Update: Here is the audio of my eulogy
I have a lot of great memories with my dad. Great trips all over the world, more good meals then I can remember, and at the end of the day a man who was there for me. When my brothers and I were little kids he was teaching us how to swim on Saturday mornings – also known as mom’s time off.
As we got older it was bike trips all over the Midwest with my brothers. As we continued to get older we got introduced to the game of Golf. It took years but I still remember the first time I ever beat my dad, and while the details are fuzzy now I know that there was a great excuse as to how that was possible.
We also took several Spring Break ski trips out west with my cousins. They were weeks with five boys and my dad for skiing and shenanigans. There was one time when the five of us boys were exiting the plane a woman stopped my dad and asked if all five of us came from one woman. He turned around to her, smiled, and told here it was two women. He just left it at that, being in Utah and all.
Another night after dinner at a local Park City BBQ joint my older brother Ryan did what older brothers do best, and started punching me in the street – completely unprovoked I promise – and I called out to my dad for helping saying, “He’s beating me in the street”. My dad responded to this situation by telling me I was grounded.
It took over a decade for my dad to later admit that this was in his top 5 parenting mistakes. But it was OK because it made for a great story. Just like the time when I was 15 and I drove the golf cart we were sharing into a pond. My dad was an extremely gracious man.
This is really where I wanted to get to, my dads graciousness. Most of you would have no reason to know that I struggled with depression and suicide. Along with this I struggled to understand the decisions my parents made that caused my dad to travel as much as he did when I was growing up. At the time I could not really understand it – so I placed a lot of blame on my dad. For a few years I couldn’t even call him dad because it was to hard for me, so he became Mike to me.
As I grew in my faith with Christ there became a day when I knew that I needed to forgive my dad for what I hurt I believed he had caused me, and to take steps to reconcile my relationship with him. This was in 2005. To my great pleasure the man who I had avoided and the relationship I had abandoned was there waiting for me. In the same way the prodigal son returned to his dad, I returned to mine. Granted I knew just how to get on his schedule, ask to meet him on the golf course. Ever since that summer our relationship has grown deeper, and for me it was a second chance I knew I didn’t deserve.
Many people wonder what faith is, people study and search their whole lives for it. They want it to be mystical, incomprehensible, unobtainable, and beyond the grasp of all but a few. As a seminary student I can attest to the number of books written on the subject. Yet in Mikes gracefulness, in my dads gracefulness he made real one of the key characteristics of God Himself. My dad was a man with a deep, yet reserved and quiet, faith. It was this faith that made him the man we all loved.
In the time since that summer my life has change quite a bit. I fell in love with the love of my life – Jordan, and got to witness the excitement that adding her to our family brought him. My dad has been a long time advocate of my different business ventures, and was a mentor and supporter of mine as we launched our software development company – Fresh Vine. And most of all, seeing him gain a passion for the French people to come to know and love Jesus – whom Jordan and I feel called to live with and minister too – gives me a joy that I cannot begin to describe.
There are many things that my dad will miss out on – us buying our first place, the birth of our children, spoiling those children and ruining many dinners with candy, seeing us move to Paris, start our life there, and starting the first of many churches there. Yet for me, I got a second chance with my dad that exceeded my every hope and prayer. A second chance that was far better than the first chances most people have with their fathers.
And now, for my dad, his faith is now his reality. And someday when we are all raised from the dead, I know he’ll want to play a round of golf and grab a beer. I only hope that he doesn’t get too much practice in before we meet again. I really liked beating him.