As my family and I prepare to participate in this Saturday’s Walk to END Alzheimer’s, I reflect back on the eulogy I gave at his service just one month ago. In loving tribute, I share it with you today.
So many people have amazing memories of my dad. He touched a lot of people’s lives. He was indeed the most generous person I ever knew…always helping his family, helping his community – even helping strangers. I remember the time he loaned his car to a complete stranger who had docked his boat at the Waterfront and wanted to go to the Supper Club for dinner. Dad definitely had a servant’s heart.
He was a wonderful dad and a tremendous grandpa! I am glad we captured so many memories through pictures and video. Looking at them, you can literally feel the love that we had for this man we called Dad, Grandpa or Great-Grandpa.
When Jim and I were stationed in Germany, Dad called just to let me know that he had bought a high chair at an auction. He let me know that he would just keep a doll in it until he could get the “real thing.” I will never forget calling him later to tell him, “It’s time to take the doll out of the high chair!” Mom said she thought the whole town knew in a matter of minutes that he was going to be a Grandpa…and what a Grandpa he was!
Dad also had a love for animals and we have a lot of memories of him and his animals…another colt or calf being born…us kids getting woke up at the crack of dawn…in the rain…to chase cows that had escaped again. It was amazing to see how his heart grew softer as he aged too. He no longer liked to hunt anything, but rather just marveled at their beauty, and we were all in awe of how his dogs got the run of the house. We never saw that growing up! And when we tell stories about his horses and the stories happen to involve Mom…well, we are usually laughing then!
So many wonderful memories of an honest, talented, hard-working, loving, generous man who was always building or buying something to give to someone else.
But I think it’s important to hold on to the recent memories too. I read a devotional last year that I always kept in my Bible. It is called “Grandpa’s Memory” by Sarah Kidd. She talks of how she had no memories of her grandpa before Alzheimer’s claimed his mind and personality. At his funeral, many people told stories of a healthy man that she didn’t remember. No one wanted to tell memories of the man with Alzheimer’s. But that’s the man she didn’t want to forget – the man who held on to God when he had forgotten everything else.
Kidd reminded us that Ecclesiastes says that those who are wise remember God in their youth and build lifelong memories of God’s faithfulness. She said trouble and failing physical bodies come sooner than we would like, and the habit of meditating on God prepares us for the “days of trouble” that will inevitably come.
I know that I have a treasure-trove of memories of this man with Alzheimer’s – things I shared with Dad that I would never have had the chance to do otherwise. We had so many talks and walks. We played games and baked cookies. We colored pictures together and we just spent time together. To me, he gave me a wonderful gift…like I said, always the giver.
Although he was always helping and giving to others, he had a hard time accepting help from others. Because of this, I often thought of his Alzheimer’s disease as a blessing. If in his old age, his body had declined rather than his mind, he would have been so unhappy. So in this way, I found mercy in his disease.
Dad was baptized on his 65th birthday at the Christian church in our hometown. Although he seldom went to church, in our conversations over the past year, if nothing else made sense, which it seldom did, I could tell he had his faith.
He loved his music and would often sing along to those old hymns. He also talked so much about his family – many times of those who had gone before him. Knowing he is with them now and no longer wondering where they are just makes me happy for him.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
The Lieurance family was scheduled to have a reunion the following week, but we can be sure that Dad had a heavenly family reunion, and we can be certain that we will see him again someday. I love you, Dad.
If you would like to make a donation to the Walk to END Alzheimer’s, you may do so here.
Thank you for your generous support.