But there was something in me that knew I needed to speak at dad's funeral. I dont know what it was. I think because dad told me one time that he was so proud of me for speaking God's word to others & he felt like it would make his own Papaw proud (who was a Methodist minster himself)... so I just knew I had to say something.
What to say though? ... yeah....
I literally started writing ideas on what to say after we left the funeral home & made arrangements.
But I ended up writing & tearing up... writing & then shredding. I know I wrote about 10 different things. Nothing felt good enough. Nothing felt right.
I woke up the morning of the funeral at my mom's house & when she woke up, I said, "I'm sorry - I can't do it - I cant come up with anything"... my mom never expected me to be able to do it anyways & told me not to worry about it. & so I drove to the funeral home feeling like I was just going to sit back & hear words spoken about my daddy.
& then I walked in the funeral home with 3 hours to the service... & I just grabbed a notebook & a pen & went into a room alone... & wrote...
& this is what I spoke at daddy's funeral. Or at least what I THINK I said. ... I'm sure I added some things when I spoke - & reading back over this in the messy handwriting I was jotting down in emotional moments - I noticed a whole section I left out (I'll put that in red in case you were at the funeral & you think, "wait, did I blank out at that point" )...
I'm putting this here because I want it for memory sake... & I want to share a little bit about my daddy from my point of view - what the day felt like to me... to honor my dad. I told everyone afterwards that I just did this to make my daddy proud. It's all I've ever wanted in life.... so here we go....
Thank you for coming today to honor my dad. I know if you are here, you have loved my dad. & if you are here in support of myself or my brother, that is a result of who our father made us, so you also are here because you love my dad.
Please allow me some grace as I stand here & speak of him & know I'm going to stumble across some words & thoughts.
It's a strange & odd thing speaking at the funeral of the man who has loved me from the beginning of my life & helped shaped the person you are & have become. In the hours & days that have passed since dad unexpectedly left us, I have felt at such a loss of words. I suppose its because with dad in our lives, there was always something to talk about - laugh about - something to learn from him. In all of this hurt & pain over the days, its moments like this where you want to call your father to help you make it through.
He was good with that - making me feel safe & protected. When I was 6 years old, we took a family vacation to Florida & stopped in Sea World. We went to watch a 3D movie - when 3D movies just started coming out & didnt know what to expect. I sat in the chair & watched it, when all of a sudden, a huge snake leaped from the screen & scared me so much. I started crying, truly feeling like I was being attacked by this snake. But dad took my glasses off of me & put his arms around me & held me in his lap. He told me when it was safe to put the glasses back on. I trusted him & his guidance in that & put the glasses back on, to finish watching the movie with all the fun scenes, full of smiles. Today, I wish I could feel my dad's arms around me & he would take these glasses off of my face that is reflecting a view that I never wanted to see in my life.
Dad never hid death from us. All his years serving as a Baptist deacon in the church, I remember going with him to many funeral homes as he comforted others, or going to hospitals or people's homes, dad would always be there just being an ear for others or a shoulder to lean on. Dad raised us in church - on a faith of who our Heavenly Father is & he has always assured us what it to come for those who accept Jesus as their Savior - & for that, I know where he is right now.
When I think of my father - so much comes to mind right now. I know it will always be that way. Sights & smells of things. But for now, what I think of when I think of my dad:
He is all things cowboy... cowboy hats, boots, horses, westerns.
He is every trip to Tractor Supply & everything inside of the store.
He is Hershey bars & cashews & peanut shells laying on newspapers.
He is root beer or Big Red floats.
Dad is back road driving... Oh, how he was back road driving. He'd leave me car sick & green faced with every trip & he'd laugh about it every time.
Dad is trips to Dale (Indiana) to hear the same stories over & over & over & over again of his childhood. Stories of his Papaw Beanblossom & his Nanya & Uncle Bill
He is Willie Nelson songs & Johnny Cash & every country song playing in the 70's.
Dad is every YouTube video of funny things & old gospel music. You know dad loved you if you got emails full of videos to watch that made no sense but knew it made him laugh.
He is phone calls asking me "Why dont you have a blog post up yet? Are you OK?"
He is a cheerleader on sidelines of basketball games & tennis matches rooting on his girls.
He is every horse you will see in a pasture.
He is wood making & the smell of hardware stores & the smell of lumber yards.
He is Mason fish on Saturday & the smell of onions the rest of the day.
He is the example of what makes a marriage work through all the good & bad times.
I dont know what dad is to you - you may know him from Henry Vogt working on machines - you may know him from installing windows - you may know him as a cowboy or through his love of horses - you may know him from serving or worshiping with him in church through the years. You may have been blessed to call him cousin, uncle, brother, family, friend. For our family, we had the honor of calling him dad, Papaw, husband. But I know if you knew my dad, he touched you in some form of love. That's how he did life after all - loving & serving others the best he could. Always.
I keep thinking of my dad & what he would be telling us today. He always had an attitude of just not worrying about things. I have had some trials I've gone through recently with a surgery & my dad's response to every thing I worried about was, "it will work out - it will all be OK'. That was how my dad viewed life. He really did use the Bible's scriptures of not worrying about tomorrow because today has enough worries of its own. Dad always reminded us that worrying wouldn't change anything that was happening. We'd make it through & it would all be just fine. & I know that dad wouldn't want us to worry or be sad for what he is experiencing in this moment. He would understand us being sad for this moment but he would not want us to be sad for him.
My dad's body is here... his spirit & soul is gone. But I am reassured of all that life has shown me in lessons from dad & know he will be standing next to Jesus when I get there.
I just ask you to continue to lift up my family in your own prayers as we tackle this world without the firm foundation of my dad. Pray for my brother - who became my dad's best friend these past few years - going on car rides wherever dad wanted to go, taking care of appointments together, piddling in barns with horses or garages with cars or working in yards & pastures. I know my dad is so proud of the man & father my brother has become himself.
Pray for the twins, who totally completed my dad's world. Dad's biggest fear in life was that he would pass away before they would really be able to remember him. I truly believe he is so imprinted in their lives & on their heart now, it will be impossible for them to not remember who their Papaw is. He will, after all, live on through them - through every tennis swing Sophia takes in her matches & in every visit to the barn or every grass cutting job Madi does.
Pray for my mom who has literally grown up with dad by her side. They have tackled life together - everything thrown in their way - & life is not always kind. It's full of joys & heartache - but they survived everything together. Please continue to pray hard for my mom & to help her out anyway you possibly can. She's going to need everyone she can lean on in the time ahead.
& pray for me as I learn to face life without the unconditional love & support I always knew was there at any phone call or visit down the road from my daddy.
Today, we say goodbye to the most incredible man I've ever known.
Dad, we have been so blessed to have you for all the time we did. We are grateful for all you have taught us & will cling desperately to all the amazing memories you leave in our hearts & our mind. Our lives are FOREVER changed because of you.
Dad left a note to mom that we found on Thursday (2 days before the funeral) He wrote: "Life has been a trip & we have been through a lot. I still love you. Take care of yourself & keep an eye on my girls. I will miss you all. Every time you see a white horse or see the numbers 444, you will know I got my eyes on you"
Dad, we love you... Tony & I will continue to take the values you have instilled in us & will continue on our own trip, trying to make you proud with every step we take... until we see you again.