My father passed away this week. I gave a eulogy:
I’ve never known my father as a whole man.
While my mother was pregnant with me, my father was in a terrible accident in the North Carolina woods, and he lost many pieces of himself.
In that accident he lost his dominate hand - the hand he used to play semi-pro golf and the hand he used to play guitar. He also lost his eyesight in the accident - the eyesight he used to write sermons and read voraciously.
To be candid, it wasn’t long after that accident his family was blown apart, too, and he lost the future he had seen for himself.
But my dad was resourceful, and of course he found a way to compensate for all of those those missing pieces- like how he used a hook to pick his guitar and learn to play golf again, or using speech-enabled software for writing and reading.
But there’s one thing that my father relied on the most to compensate for those missing pieces - his heart.
After the accident, my father relied on his heart to create music, strumming his guitar with a hook and a pick.
He used his heart to minister to his communities, caring for the elderly and sick, the imprisoned and the marginalized.
He used his heart to create and build his newspaper business, bringing good news and hope to his community in a world wrought with very, very bad news. He used his heart in performing his magic shows, desperately wanting to make people laugh, often times at his own expense, anything to bring people joy.
He used his heart to find and marry the love of his life, Cathy, the best, kindest person alive to help raise his daughters and give us Clayton - something that I believe is his greatest gift to our family, and something that I cherish more than anything else he’s done.
Since my father relied on his heart so very much, he also suffered greatly through his heart. He felt pain in a way that many people don’t. He felt injustices of the world and regret deeper than most people.
He felt profound hopelessness and terror through his heart.
My father’s death is shocking to me, not just because it happened two days ago, but because it was heart attack. He wasn’t healthy, but I hadn’t heard about his heart being in jeopardy of giving out.
I don’t understand what’s happened this week, and I’m still trying to come to terms with all of it. But for me, I can think of no more fitting way for my father to leave this world than from too much pressure on his heart.
Because besides living through his heart and suffering through his heart, I do believe my father loved fiercely through his heart.
It’s my father’s heart that I’ll miss the most.