My Dad’s memorial was last weekend. It was difficult. But it was very nice as well. It was a lovely service and very well attended. I think there were maybe 300 people there, which showed how many people’s lives he touched. There were people there from the alternative newspapers that he started way back when, from his time managing (and more recently as a board member) an alternative, non profit radio station, from his many years working in grant writing, from mentoring others to writing books, to teaching classes. People from Meals on Wheels, where he volunteered as a delivery person for over 20 years. People from my step-mom’s life as a top tier yoga instructor in Oregon. People from the neighborhood. Friends and family. Lots of family.
It was lovely to see my step-mom, Julie, and to spend some time with her. We went to the beautiful Japanese Garden in Portland, hiked in Forest Park, and ate delicious dinners. It was lovely to spend some time with my sister Melissa, shopping for birthday gifts for my niece and nephew, buying a thank you gift for the kind neighbor who took us in when Ted and Maya joined me a few days in (I went up on Thursday morning, and stayed at the house with Julie, who has two big cats. Ted is VERY allergic, so once he and Maya came up on Saturday, we stayed the next couple of nights at the neighbor’s house.) We went up to Lewis and Clark to see the chapel for the memorial. It was so nice to have some time, sad as it was, just with my sisters and step mom, where she gave us a copy of Dad’s arrest documents from Georgia in 1963, where he was arrested for being part of a march for civil rights, as well as copies of his books, etc. Once Ted and Maya joined me on Saturday morning, we spent a bit of time just the three of us. We went downtown and bought a new shirt for Ted, and had a very nice brunch. We then went to my sister’s house to arrange the flowers that my sisters had picked at a U Pick farm while I was picking Ted and Maya up from the airport. Saturday night we went to dinner as a large group, maybe 25 or 30 of us, close friends and family who were in town for the memorial. Sunday was the memorial, which was hard. Monday we went for a hike in Forest Park, then lunch at the house with Julie, then flew home. It was very nice to be home.
The memorial service itself was very nice. In addition to the officiant, Dad’s three daughters each spoke, as did his two best friends. It was hard to get up in front of that many people, but more sad than scary. I started crying pretty much right away, but managed to get through it all. I had ideas of using inflection in my voice and so on, but that did not happen. I just read it and barely got through. I looked down at my hands at one point and saw that my hand was shaking, so I guess I was nervous. Here is what I said.
My dad has been my stalwart, supporting me through tragedy and triumph. There to cheer me on through life’s events, big and small. Life in college. Falling in love with my beloved husband, Ted. Moving across the country. Giving birth to my darling daughter, Maya. Supporting me through the pain of my mother’s death in 2008. Buying a house. Getting a job. Losing a job.
I didn’t know my dad growing up, we have never lived in the same city, or even the same state. We met when I was 21, and he was 44, when he drove from Portland to San Francisco to meet me. Since the day we met in October of 1987, he has been there for me, loving me, being my dad.
If you are here today, celebrating his life, you know the kind of man he was. You know that he has always had a deep sense of justice. You know that he is kind. You know that he worked hard his entire life in support of both justice and kindness. You know that he wanted to have adventures, and enjoy the successes in life. You know that he was grateful for all of the gifts afforded him. You know that he loved his family deeply, and was a devoted father, husband, and friend.
My inheritance, then, is to live my life following his example, in my own ways. To care deeply about issues that are important, and for those that I love. To find ways to work for justice. To be kind whenever possible. (And it is nearly always possible.) To live my life with integrity, to listen to my inner voice, and trust that voice. To give of my heart, my time, and my effort. Most of all, to be grateful for the gifts afforded me, and that he was my much loved Dad.