Monday, October 23, 2006

Have You Heard The One About...?

I don't have the time or energy to post much in the way of an entry, but I thought I would share this with all of you.
My dad's memorial service was this past Saturday. For various reasons, none of the people speaking at it were people who really knew my dad, and we felt that it was important that something be said about him that came from people he did know him, but at the same time, no one in the family felt up to the task of getting through any sort of eulogy without breaking down.
Instead it was decided that the writer in the family would write something up that could be read.
Here it is.

Have you heard the one about…?
Those words, or words very much like them, served as the starting point for so many of our dad’s conversations in life. He had a joke for every occasion; most of which propriety demands we not repeat here and which were as likely to elicit a groan as a laugh.
But we did laugh. A lot.
Out of all of the lessons our dad taught us – and he taught us a lot – the most important lesson was how to laugh.
Sure, we learned that hard work was important. How could we not with him as our example? Sometimes it seemed like he never stopped working; he was working right until the end.
But he was always laughing, too.
One of the things he loved most was for all of us to get together and just sit around telling jokes and stories and cracking wise, each one of us trying to outdo the other.
That may have been why he held on as long as he did at the end. He was lying there waiting to hear what joke we were going to tell next.
Now that he’s gone the world doesn’t seem quite so funny anymore, but we would be doing him and his memory a disservice if we closed our eyes to the humor all around us and if we forgot how to laugh.
And so, even through our tears we remember his smile, his laugh, his unerring ability to find the humor in anything, and we can’t help but chuckle a little ourselves.
Have you heard the one about our dad?
He was a man who bragged that he graduated fifth in his class – neglecting to mention that there were only five students in his class.
He was a man who boasted that he was his uncle’s favorite nephew, which was good considering he was his only nephew.
He was a man who could work a sixteen hour day and still find the time to laugh.
He was a man who, with enough leverage, could do anything with a two-by-four.
He was the hardest-working, most giving man any of us will ever know.
Throughout these dark days it has been the memory of his laughter that has sustained us. Our mother keeps mentioning people who knew him and saying, “He liked dad,” or, “She really liked dad.” It goes without saying. That was the kind of man he was; if you knew him, you liked him.
Have you heard the one about our dad?
We loved him with all of our hearts and we will always miss him, but he’ll be with us every time we tell a joke or find some other reason to laugh.
As we say goodbye to him – dad, grandpa, Sherwood, Muck – we could all certainly use a good laugh.

As a bit of a follow-up, most everyone there - and there were a lot of people there, with even more at the visitation - thought it was a fitting tribute to him.
My dad's nickname from childhood and throughout his life was "Muck," for reasons that I don't feel like explaining right now, but will in a future post. Nothing sordid, just kind of complicated, and involving a foreign language.
My dad was cremated and on Sunday we poured his ashes into the Misery River, which runs behind my parents' house. Over the summer my dad had worked hard at clearing out the trees and brush and making a sort of park down by the river, which he was extremely proud of, so it seemed like a fitting place.
My niece Jourdan - who adored and was adored by her grandpa - kept a portion of the ashes as well as the wooden urn that had held them.
Anyway, I just thought I'd crank out a quick entry. I'll be back with more somewhere along the line.

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