Ode To Doug.
Exactly 4 months and 2 days ago (January 16, 2010), I lost my father. I know that outliving your parents is something that we are warned of since childhood. But that certainly doesn’t make saying goodbye to them any easier.
Almost 6 years prior to my father’s death exactly, my grandfather passed away, and I somehow worked up the courage to speak at his memorial service. I remember being beyond nervous and overwhelmed with emotions. I’m not exactly the strongest, most confident public speaker and this type of speaking was harder than most. But, I had an extremely close relationship with my grandfather and I figured that this was the least I could do for such an amazing person. Miracurously, about a sentence or two into my grandfather’s speech, an overwhelming calmness came over me and I was able to gracefully get through it. To this day, I swear he was there with me helping me through.
Over the past 6 years, my dad had reminded me of that day and would go on and on about how proud he was of me and how beautiful and real what I said about my grandfather was. And then he would say that he hoped I could do the same for him one day. Of course I would get mad at him for even suggesting such a thing. For, in my mind, there were many years to go before I’d have to even think of saying goodbye to him.
It turns out, that day came a little sooner than I had envisioned and unfortunately I’m not the type of person who likes to disappoint people if I can help it. So despite the fear and anxiety that led up to the moment - I did the best I could to commemorate my father. I decided to attempt to celebrate my dad’s twisted humor and unique personality, which was what most people loved most about him. Myself included. I figured if it was appropriate to use the word ‘testiclees’ at anyone’s funeral - it would definitely be his.
Ode To Doug (below is what I wrote and read at my father’s funeral)
I think its safe to say that growing up as one of Doug’s daughters wasn’t your typical childhood experience. It was much weirder. And I’m so grateful for that.
For most people, a routine errand like a trip to the grocery store with dad is certainly not newsworthy. Well, when my sisters and I were much younger, it wasn’t uncommon for my dad to strike up a conversation with the cashier as were checking out. More often than not, upon noticing my dad’s gray hair, the lady behind the register would ask: ‘Sir, are these your granddaughters, they’re beautiful!’ My dad would respond, with a proud grin on his face: ‘No mam, why this is my second litter.’
As the majority of this room already knows, my dad was rarely serious. Which I think we can all agree was part of his charm. In an attempt to appear so at times, he’d sit us down, as if he were about to share some very insightful life views and begin, ‘In the famous words of testiclees….’ For a long time, I failed to find the humor in this, and whole-heartedly believed that this Testiclees character must be a very wise Greek philosopher or something.
One of my dad’s favorite things to do in life, was to eat. Most days, he would ask my mom what we were going to have for dinner while he was still eating breakfast. So, at the dinner table, he had a few tactics to ensure that my sisters and I would clean our plates. If telling us to ‘eat this, it’ll put hair on your chest’ or chanting ‘yum, yum, eat em up!’ didn’t work, he would go on and on about the poor, starving children in Potomac, Maryland that would love to be eating our dinner. And for many years this worked on us. I was convinced that Potomac was a sad, povern stricken place. And I’d feel awful wasting my food. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the irony in all of this.
My dad had a great gift of making the ordinary things in life, exciting. Being allowed to sit on the kitchen counter, for example, meant becoming ‘a counter cricket.’ And don’t ask me why, but this was a big deal.
I learned many valuable life lessons from my dad. One that I’ll share with you today is the proper way to count your knees. On a family vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina many years ago, my sisters and I spent an afternoon with my dad in the pool. It was at this time that he decided to sit the three of us on the edge of the pool as he stayed in it, to count our knees. ‘One knee, two knees, three knees,’ he began until he ended at 9 knees. We may have been young, but my sisters and I all understood that we each only had two knees and there was no possible way that three sets of knees could add up to 9. We kept voicing our argument to Dad, who each time would listen, but then count our knees again and end at 9. Everytime. We were completely confused, and after several minutes of arguing and recounting, my dad finally revealed his secret. My sisters and I had of course forgotten about our ‘Hi-neys.’
I could easily stand here all day if I were to recall even half of the wonderful memories I shared with my dad over the past 28 years. But don’t worry, I’m not going to do that.
For as long as I can remember…whether I was leaving a room or leaving town, my dad would call to me, ‘Hey Maureen, would you turn your hat around so it looks like you’re coming back?’ And more importantly he’d always remind me to ‘Be brave’ in any situation. So today, I’d like to ask him to do the same. I love you Dad. So much. And I promise I’ll ‘be brave.’