Ever wonder what people will say at your funeral?
My dad did.
I had a conversation with my mom recently. She shared an exchange that took place between her & Dad. He asked her, “What would you say for my eulogy?” Now, if you know my mom, you know she doesn’t speak in public. So, she told him his children would be doing the speaking. He pressed on, “What do you think the kids would say?” She paused & told him, “I’m sure they’d say you were a great father.”
Today is my dad’s birthday and I have to say, that little exchange between my parents had a big impact on me. What would I say about my dad? What stories would I share; illustrating the impact he had and continues to have on my life? I only gave a eulogy once…it was during my great-grandmother’s funeral. However, I’ve been to many funerals where people say some of the most beautiful things about each other. And then it hit me: eulogies are an outlet for honoring the memory of someone who is no longer with us and an opportunity to share the way another person influenced us. But, are we always intentional in making sure the actual person knows what they mean to us while we’re still together on this earth?
Now, I love my dad, but criminy, he is one of the hardest people to shop for! Yeah, I can always get him a shirt (only black, grey or navy), but he already has a closet full.
So, this year, I’ve giving my dad a “living eulogy.”
Dad, if you should die, before I wake, I’d want you to know…
March 21, 2011
Growing up in the Klintworth household was a gift. My brothers, sister and I were blessed with two parents who loved God, loved each other and loved us. And they made sure we knew it. My parents provided for our needs and were involved in our lives. I’m not saying everything was roses and sunshine. We are a family who isn’t afraid to communicate. And sure enough, there were times when we didn’t always get along or days when tension filled the home because one of us was in trouble. But, our foundation was Love.
Many of you know I’m a good mix of my mom and dad. My mom is wired to respond emotionally; my dad, rationally. I get my kind spirit from my Mom. But, when it comes to reacting, I’m my dad all the way. I naturally default to a logical or rational mode of thinking with emotional responses coming later. But, this isn’t the only fingerprint my dad has left on my life.
If it wasn’t for my dad, I don’t think I’d ever truly appreciate the power of the hot dog. When dinnertime came, it didn’t matter what Mom served us; what it smelled like, looked like or even if it was still mooing. If any of us, particularly my brother Brandon, hesitated before trying a dish, my dad always said the same thing: “Just try it. It’s like a hot dog.” And then, like the flipping of an imaginary switch, any hesitation instantly dissipated and we’d have no problem inserting our forks into our mouths.
Without my dad, I would have never discovered my love for science fiction. At night, Dad would sit on the couch, with a bag of pretzels and papers sprawled all over the coffee table. I’d be finishing my homework. At the same time, as if on cue, we would take a breath and say aloud:
“Space…the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise…”.
Yep, I loved watching “Star Trek Next Generation” with my dad! To this day, I’m still a science fiction fan. In fact, I prefer a good sci-fi to a chick flick any day. I love that the “V” miniseries has reared its lizard head again. My dad and I watched the original series back when it first aired, and I have to say…I wish we were able to watch it together today.
My dad worked his rear off all through life and he’s been extremely generous with what he has gained. We looked forward to many dates growing up in our household: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays….and April 15th, the end of tax season. As a CPA, he worked crazy hours, particularly during tax season. Some may wonder why he worked so late or so hard. The answer is simple: My dad worked hard for his family. Through sacrifices both he and my mother made, they were able to send us to private schools. I am so thankful I got to grow up in a classroom where talking about God wasn’t taboo and the Bible was required reading. He knows the hard work he endured years ago has blossomed into fruits, which enable his family to continually walk through doors that would have otherwise remained closed.
High school brought new opportunities to hang with my dad: most memorably Father/Daughter dances. My dad and I entered every single dance contest. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing, but we were fast learners (Dad will tell you it’s because we’re part German). So, we watched other couples to see the basic steps, and then dived right on in. We even won the twist contest one year! Our favorite style though, was swing dancing. What began in high school continued to my wedding day. I loved my husband and couldn’t wait to dance in his arms that night. But, I knew my first dance belonged to my dad. We took dance lessons in preparation for what would become my most memorable Father/Daughter dance. We started out with a basic waltz, leading our guests to believe we were doing a traditional dance. But then, true to form, we changed music mid-dance and tore up the dance floor with a fun rendition to “Rock Around the Clock.”
My dad is so supportive! I was very nervous the day I planned telling my parents I wanted to study acting in college. At the time, all I could think was, “How do I explain to my CPA father that what I really want to do is act?” Their reaction surprised me and my dad didn’t push back at all. Not many people continually work professionally as actors, so both he and Mom encouraged me to pick a good minor. I worked professionally as an actress for a short time before being cast in the role that brought me my greatest fulfillment: Mommy.
Dad has always encouraged me to follow dreams. His stance is, you only get one time around before your life is done. He really instilled in me a determination to fight for what is important and go after what you want. If it doesn’t work out, then at least you tried, which is more than what many people do.
There is a playful side of my dad that surprises many and much of my playfulness as a parent comes directly from him. He always had a trick up his sleeve. Sometimes he would have us pretend to be asleep when Mom came home after work, or hide in a closet so she had to find us. But our giggles eventually gave us away. He is an awesome grandpa! I asked the kids what they love about him and instantly they said the fun they have with him. They love visiting his office when no one else is there. He lets them roam the various corridors while pretending to be the monster chasing them. They love when he tickles them and when he, as Grady puts it, “drives them to Cancun.” He is already having a wonderful influence on them and I’m grateful for the time they get to spend together.
I get my love for public speaking from my dad. While some classmates dreaded having to stand in front of others, I thrived. I’ve never been afraid to speak in public. I’m more intimidated by geometric theorems than a crowd. My dad helped cultivate my love for communication, expression and connection with other people. He also greatly influenced my writing ability and continually flamed this passion. He is a fantastic editor and if not for him, I’d be a prepositional phrase nut with a tendency to overuse “that.” One of the best things he did was write me questions in the margins. I started approaching writing with a more conversational tone and think about not just what I said, but how to include the reader in the process.
My dad was all about the tools. I still have the marionette we made together from a craft book template. Dad also helped us design wooden cars for Awana derbies. We never won, but I loved watching him work with the wood, talk aerodynamics and help him paint our little creations. If we didn’t know how to do something, we figured it out. And I’m wired that way to this day.
I am one determined woman and my dad taught me about perseverance. Many years ago, our van broke down in a blizzard a couple blocks from our home. I still remember trucking through the biting weather carrying my brother, while Dad carried my sister. My other brother? Well, he was in charge of carrying the Hardees bags. My siblings were crying and I had my teeth gritted together. Dad kept his voice up and encouraging as we cut through yards until we made it home. He taught me a valuable lesson that night and I take the same approach to life: there are times when circumstances whip you in the face, leaving you wondering which end is up. But you still push through, one step at a time, until you make it Home.
Dad, there is so much I admire about you: the way you balanced work with family, the time you took coaching our soccer teams, your musical influence, “Griswold” family vacations, I could go on and on.
The legacy you are leaving us is one of love. I know I am a creation designed for a purpose. Many people spend their whole life trying to figure out what that purpose is. The colors you’ve painted on the canvas of my life helped me uncover my purpose. They direct the choices I make in daily living and how I hope to impact those around me.
You’ve taught me so much, but none of it would matter if you didn’t first teach me to love. Thank you for loving my mother. Thank you for loving my siblings. Thank you for loving my husband and my children.
Thank you for loving me.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Read Full Post »