It's been a month today since my Dad passed away. In some aspects it feels like it was just yesterday that we were called early in the morning to come to the nursing home but on the other hand it feels like an eternity. There have been some things to take care of, thank you notes to write, friends to touch base with...all things that need to be done. We have settled my Mom at our house for the time being and are trying to find the right balance with that.
My brother and I both spoke at my Dad's funeral. It was a tough thing to do, but I am so proud of what both of us had to say. I thought I would share what I said, especially for my friends that weren't able to be there.
Thank you very much for coming this morning to celebrate the life of my Dad, Al Hall. When Pastor Don said his typical service lasts about 45 minutes, I thought to myself, how do we condense the life of a man who never, ever met a stranger. But, we will do our best.
There are 3 main things I want to share that my Dad taught me. The first is, do something in life that you enjoy. On July 17, 1939, when my Dad was 10 years old, about the age of my son Cameron, he attended his first baseball game. It was in Cleveland, the Indians lost to the New York Yankees. To hear my Dad tell the story it was magical. The grass was the greenest he had ever seen, he rode the train from Akron to Cleveland, he saw Bob Feller pitch, there were at least 5 future Hall of Famers in the game. That day probably help to cultivate my Dad's love of baseball, his love of trains and his love of sports. In doing something that he loved, he worked for many years in college athletics. I remember thinking for many years that my Dad had the coolest job ever. When Dale and I were young he often took us early before a game started. We would roller skate in the basement hallways of the field house, collect tickets, sell programs, pop popcorn, we did many odd jobs. We got to travel all over the Midwest to football and basketball games. We always did it as a family and I probably thought for a long time that every kid got to go to work with their Dad. I love watching many different kind of sports to this day and sports is kind of the love language of our family. My Dad had a job he thoroughly enjoyed and I loved that about him.
The second thing I learned from my Dad was devotion. Devotion to things he believed in: never wear a hat inside and especially not at the table eating. Never end a sentence with a preposition. Never chew gum with your mouth open. No t-shirts to school. Learn how to drive a stick shift. But the devotion that I witnessed myself was his devotion to our family. My Dad had pretty high expectations for us. He always wanted us to try our best. Dale has certainly lived up to this, I am still "working" on myself. My husband Mike loves the story I mistakenly told him many years ago about my dad having me register for an arraigned class at Ashland that he could offer me to help boost my GPA. I did actually do work for the grade, Mike, but it also might have helped pad my GPA a bit. It might have been only slightly unethical, but I really needed the A. My Dad was always helping me to succeed and was my cheerleader for life. He always told me that I was a great Mom. I had the best examples in him and my Mom. If we need to define devotion my parents picture would be in the dictionary. My Dad treated my Mom better than anyone in the world. He was her eyes and ears, he was always patient and he loved my Mom very much. Saturday would have been their 46th wedding anniversary and we can all consider ourselves blessed for their example in our lives. Mom, everyone knows how much Dad loved you. And they know how much you loved him.
The last thing I learned from my Dad was a love for our Lord, Jesus Christ. He had a faith that stretched very deep. He had a love of sharing his faith with anyone who would listen. He had a way of mentoring those who were in need. He rolled his sleeves up and was a worker around this church whether it was teaching Sunday School, driving us to a youth event, representing the church as a Lay Leader at Lakeside, helping to write the church's history, my Dad did a lot of service here. And he loved every minute of it and felt it was his service an an honor to our God. I'm not sure as a a teenager I fully appreciated my Dad as my high school Sunday School teacher, but looking back it really was an instrumental part of my faith journey. This church and it's people in it helped me to become the person I am today. And I thank you for that.
I can't help but think of a familiar bible verse that I have been using quite a bit lately. It is from Proverbs 3:5-6. It says, Trust in The Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. This last year has been pretty challenging for our family. But when we needed it, we leaned hard. People prayed for my Dad and I know he fly the presence of the prayers and the Holy Spirit. And because of my Dad's faith, his strength and his convictions I know that he has met the ultimate victory. I know that he is whole again.
If you knew my Dad you know that he loved history. He loved to learn about it and share what he knew about it. My Dad passed away last Friday on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy during Operation Overlord. It started on June 6, 1944. General Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in their courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory." And on Friday my Dad met his full victory with Jesus Christ.
You will be truly missed, Dad, but I will do my best to honor your memory. Your grandchildren have great memories of fun times with you and they will always remember you with love.
And I will always be your Bether.