Day 263 – Thankful for Dad’s Funeral

Tonight I’ve got to start off with a warning…  I’m emotionally exhausted and am not quite sure where this is going to end up.  Often times I have a somewhat preset direction that I’m going to go, but tonight I’m shooting from the hip a la Dad’s favorite football player ever, Brett Favre.   There were so many reasons I am thankful for Dad’s funeral, when I try to pinpoint a few I’m completely overwhelmed with so many thoughts and emotions.  I’m going to try to go chronologically in order to not miss anything.

At Grandpa's 4
If a picture of Dad would sum him up, this would possibly be it.  Helping others smile while staying in the background, watching with love, big smile of happiness, pride and love on his face.  Love you Dad!

I’m thankful for the huge numbers of people who came in to pay their respects to Dad.  It warmed my heart to see just a fraction of the people he’s impacted in his life.  There was constantly a line of people coming in, the church was packed, and there were even a few friends from out of town that had to listen from the basement due to the upstairs being filled.

Seeing so many people from my childhood, my past, dad’s friends, high school acquaintances, and other people from around town that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  I’m very thankful for seeing so many familiar faces.

There were so many friends from out of town, in town and all around that came in. There were some that I knew were coming and there was a handful of surprises that left me choked up.  Having that much support and love all around me was nothing short of awesome and greatly appreciated!

During the funeral I spoke for my dad.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life.  My hope was to put myself in Dad’s shoes and share what he would want to be said at his funeral.  (I’ll copy the speech down below as I had a handful of requests for it)  Knowing that I was about to address many people about a very emotional topic I was very nervous about my ability to make it through without breaking down.  During one of our car conversations Dad made it clear to me that he would give me strength.  As I spoke I felt his hand on my shoulder and it wasn’t until the last couple of sentences that I struggled.  After the dust of the funeral settled I had a moment of silence that I filled by talking with Dad.  In my head (and in my heart) I heard him tell me he was “proud of you bud!”

There were so many stories of my dad shared that I struggled to keep them all in my memory.  Most of them involved Dad cheering someone up, helping someone out, or helping others appreciate each day of their life.  It was awesome!  I always knew my dad was a super hero, but this just added to his legacy.

So many hugs, cries, and expressions of love were shared.  While my heart hurts from missing my dad, my heart was filled with all of the love today.  I could feel him jumping in on the hugs from time to time.

After the funeral Nick and I spent some quiet time with just the two of us drinking beers while sitting on the rock wall talking about the day, Dad, and life without Dad.  The bonding that was done was priceless and will always be remembered.

Becky’s been watching all over me today, taking care of me, holding me up, and making sure that I keep making it through.  I’m so thankful for having her in my life!

There were a couple of other moments that I am thankful for, but they’ll either have to wait or are a little more private.  

One last one to share, I’m thankful for this day to end.  I’m emotionally exhausted, in a weird mix of sad yet very happy…  maybe satisfied is the better description?  Regardless, I also feel an overwhelming sense of love and a great deal of pride for my dad.  There’s also some nervousness as I realize just how big of shoes he’s left for me to fill.  That said, I’m ready for bed.  I’m ready to start a new day.  I’ll hold this one in my head and heart for eternity, and am very thankful for it, but it is time to rest.

Thank you again to everyone for the hugs well wishes, prayers, and so on.  Whether you were here or not I know so many were with us in spirit today to celebrate my dad.  Thank you all for the love, it is greatly appreciated!!!

Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

Reflection of Dad at His Funeral:

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who had met him, and his name was Pete.  

That’s really it, isn’t it?  The whole story of my dad in a nutshell.  In just one sentence you probably have a flood of fond memories of him.  Let me re-read that sentence…  Take time to smile about the memories that come to mind…

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who had met him, and his name was Pete.  

For me this brings back memories of building a treehouse with Dad and his grandsons.  It reminds me of putting in a ceiling light with Dad and my brother.  I remember the smile and giddiness of my dad as we happened to drive past his old bible camp on a trip into the UP.

Those memories are the ones that will bring us happiness in this time of sadness.  Dad gave us all a great gift, those memories and we need to hold on to them tightly.

We also owe it to Dad to not only keep those memories alive in our hearts, but also to create more memories like them for others.  If Dad had one wish it wasn’t for a huge crowd or a fancy funeral, it was for all of us to help each other.  To create more happiness for each of us. 

Each and every day of his life Dad lived to his set of core values.  As we continue to live our lives we may think of him and smile as we live those values.  For instance, when you start a conversation with a stranger and they walk away smiling, Dad was with you.  

Dad was a family man.  Living his Christian ideals this meant that the word family wasn’t limited to just blood, it was inclusive of everyone.  Whether son, spouse, brother, friend, or stranger he loved you and you could feel it.  

There was an appreciation for life Dad Pete had that inspired each of us.  He was present in each moment and every conversation.  Always playful, he could always find the way to bring a smile to anyone at any time.

The harder the work the greater the reward for Dad.  In the woods, in his workshop, at a friend’s house, or wherever his help was needed he enjoyed the pleasure that comes from hard work.

Most importantly, Dad’s focus was on helping anyone who needed help.  He was always giving of his time, skills, and anything that was ever needed.  Whether taking time to sit with a friend, help with his church, listen to a friend, coach a little league team, bring a smile to someone who’s hurting or answer one of about a thousand home improvement questions for his sons, he was always there to help.  His generosity and love of helping others will continue through all of us.

If we wish to honor Dad’s legacy and help it continue here are three ways he would like us to do that.

1. Start a conversation with a stranger and leave them smiling, maybe buy lunch for someone you don’t know in a diner, but help a stranger smile

2. Be willing to make a gift of ourselves and help someone who needs it, there’s always a way if you are willing

3. Appreciate every day God grants us.  Love your family (& all of mankind) and share that love with them.  Stay positive, smile, and be thankful for what you have.  Be present.  That’s how we show appreciation for each day.

The biggest tribute we can give him is to live those values and help others smile.  Dad may have passed away, but his legacy will live on through many for generations.

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who’d met him, and his name was Pete.  We’re all better having known him…  and I incredibly fortunate and proud to have been able to call him Dad. 

I love you Dad.

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