Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Phil's Eulogy

***Poster's note:) The following is the eulogy that Derek gave at his Dad's funeral. I am so proud of who Derek is...and I know his dad was too. Lydia

When Pastor Randy asked me if I wanted give a eulogy or have someone else give a eulogy I didn’t have an answer for him.

My Dad wasn’t a eulogy type of guy and to be honest I’m not much of a eulogy guy either. But after thinking about it I’m certain that we both needed to be more like eulogy guy. For me Pastor Randy’s question really wasn’t about a eulogy at all, it was about me having the courage to be vulnerable and express my emotions and say what needed to be said about my Dad’s story. Because that’s what a eulogy is. It’s your story and while it may not be read after you die, it is still written.

First, I want you guys to know who my Dad was to me. My Dad was as cool as they come. The first apartment I remember him living in had an actual bear skin rug and a bonsai tree. His hair was always perfect. As a young boy I saw this Herculean type outdoorsman. He always seemed to have a big fish on the line. The stories and photos of the back packing trips across Canada still seem epic to me. I wanted to be just like him. Even after deteriorating in the hospital for four months his hands still seemed thicker and stronger than mine. He was also a goof ball. Every night I stayed at his place he would wake me up in the morning brushing his teeth stark naked singing elvis songs. He loved to tease me but had the ability to do it with out cutting down my confidence. I think above all else my Dad was a master at building relationships. And while he was a gifted barber his ability to make friends and build relationships are what set him apart. As a young boy I was never very confident. But after I got a fresh cut and left the shop not only did I feel better about myself but my outlook on life always went up a notch. I think there are a lot of folks out there who have experienced this.

The following is an email my step-mom received from one of Dad’s customers responding to the news of Dad’s passing.

There’s no way to adequately prepare for moments like this. Words escape me. I tried to share the news with my daughter Annie last night, but couldn’t because every time I tried, my emotions overwhelmed me.

As you know, Phil and I go back to the early ‘70s. He became an important part of my Homecoming tradition when I moved to California in 1989. I’d begin mapping out my haircut schedule as early as April/May so that I would be due for one on Homecoming Friday. When he was cutting my hair in October of 2010 and told me he was on the transplant list, something told me to savor that moment because it might be the last time we see each other. I remember holding back tears because I was afraid this was our last haircut.

It always touched my heart how Phil would be sure to send me home with a Tootsie Roll Pop for my daughter if she wasn’t with me. Annie came to Homecoming every year till high school, then sporadically after that. We always updated each other on our kids. He always remembered Annie and said to be sure to say hello to her for him.

Lou and I will keep Phil’s and my Homecoming tradition going for as long as possible. If you’re around next Homecoming (October), I’d like to stop by and meet you.

Please accept Annie and my condolences. Every time I get a haircut, I’ll be thinking of Phil.

Deepest sympathies,

Bob & Annie

Of all the things my Dad was this is the one thing I hope to be. A man able to make other folks feel loved and special. It’s a legacy I want to teach his three grandsons.

No matter what my failures were, and there were lots of them (like getting fired from three jobs two of which I got because I was Phil’s son or getting my high school sweetheart pregnant or being ineligible to play football and basketball or losing my drivers license after crashing two cars) he was still the same Dad. When I sat in his chair to get a cut it was like a time machine. I was transported back to being 11 years old and the guy who didn’t get mad because I broke his favorite fishing rod was still there and in anticipation of me catching the next big one.

Through all my failures and shortcomings he still believed in me and that I could do and be something great. I think it’s very easy for me to see a God that believes in me because my Dad did that. As a man I have come to rely on my love and faith in Jesus so much that I know that no matter how much I fail and fall short God is constantly pursuing me to redeem my failures and sins for His glory. You see what I didn’t realize was that my Dad was too.

I’m not telling all this to you guys so we can grieve or as a tribute to my father. I want Dad’s death to be a tribute not to him but for two very important things. The first is Fathers, pursue your sons and sons pursue your Dads. Have an adventure together. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or extravagant. It can be as simple as feeding fish at a pond or tracking down that elusive Andre Dawson Rookie card (that’s really worth nothing). But above all, be two guys who love a good eulogy. Have the courage to express your feelings and the grace to forgive your hurts. I know its not possible to be a father who causes no pain in the life of his son and it’s equally impossible for a son not to wound his father. But, it is possible to have a love that is unconditional and surpasses understanding. It is possible to learn about life and each other through adventure and shared experiences.

The second is that in the same way we should pursue our sons and fathers, God pursues us. I’m convinced the reason God gives us children is so that we have a glimpse into the love he has for us. My Dad shared with Sandy a few weeks before passing that he had asked God into his heart and asked he be allowed into his kingdom. And that is fantastic news. The sad part is that God’s love and promise for us is not just a key to heaven. He wants for us to have life to the full here and now. He wants us to give everything over to him so that we can live life here as he desires for us. I wish my Dad could have experienced that 30 years ago.

Fathers and Sons your life is a story. God is desperately chasing after you and wants to be the author. What will the next chapter hold? Is it the last one or is it the beginning of a new plot twist? My prayer and desire for you is that your story is an adventure together and penned by our heavenly Father. May your eulogy be a story full of laughter, tears, fear, courage and incomprehensible love.