“I’m who I am because of you.”
Meghan McCain gives a heartfelt, emotional eulogy for her late father, Senator John McCain. Through her tears she shares his tragedies and triumphs, and his success as a father to whom she was extremely close. And I think, well, we all loved our fathers.
When mine died, I felt no compunction to eulogize him. If you knew my father, as I assume those who attended his funeral did, there was nothing I could have said that they didn’t already know about him. If I had eulogized him, I’d have told a brief story about him that would have told anyone who didn’t know exactly who he was.
Dad had a work friend whom everyone called Shorty. But my dad always called him by his given name of Earl. I once asked Dad why he didn’t call him Shorty. Dad said, “Because I know how it feels to be called Shorty.”
Dad was a man of few words, but he knew a lot of them. He read a lot. Newspapers. Magazines. Books. Anything he could get his hands on, I guess. Even though I don’t remember seeing him read during my childhood, we always seemed to have books around. We had a subscription to Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. After he retired Dad read every book. W.E.B. Griffith published.
Also after he retired and moved back to his hometown, Dad was always available by phone for long conversations about everything and anything. Work. Parenting. Politics. World events. That is one of the things I miss about him the most. He was always there.
Dad wasn’t perfect even though my brothers and I tended to idolize him. He understood commitment and loyalty and tradition. He never walked away when the going got tough. He never, in my recollection, offered an opinion unless it was asked for.
He had a pithy saying, something he’d read or heard somewhere, that he’d pull out and repeat for just about any situation. If I asked “Why?” his reply was often, “I hesitate to say for fear of plunging headlong into the depths of the unknown.”
His advice on marriage went like this: “You put in your nickel and take your chances.” “There’s a fool born every minute and they get married two at a time.”
Or my favorite: “Don’t grab. Look what your mother got.”
On money: “You can marry it faster than you can make it.”
My brothers and I often hear our father’s pithy sayings coming out of our mouths. Perhaps because they were simple yet appropriate and they stand the test of time.
A good father is a child’s hero. My dad believed in those old-fashioned values like honor and loyalty. He served in the navy in WWII. His ship was hit by a kamikaze. He never warmed to the idea of German or Japanese cars. He drove Fords.
I never felt the need to explain to others who my father was or what he stood for. Those who knew him were aware and those who didn’t wouldn’t care.
He was my dad and we knew we loved each other. Before he died he said, “Thanks for being you.”
My reply? “I’m who I am because of you.”