Today is the 3rd anniversary of my Dad’s memorial service. At the time, I wasn’t able to give a eulogy…I think my brother was a bit disappointed in me for that. He’d spoken at Mom’s service 3 years early, but he’s used to speaking in front of a crowd of people. I am not. Adding the stress of getting up to talk about my Dad to the sadness I felt was too much for me. My brother and our cousins, Maribeth & Melodie, got up and spoke and did it beautifully for which I am grateful.
What would I have said? I would’ve said something like this:
My father, George Daniell Spering, is gone from this earth, has been gone, in fact, since 15 minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve. It seems strange to me that he is no longer here. The physical body, I mean. His spirit is still here, the love he gave to me, to my brother, my cousins, his cousin Rosa, to other family members and friends that meant so much to him, is still here. His spirit has become part of our hearts, our memories, part of OUR spirit now.
His physical body had been failing him in the last year. He had Parkinson’s, he who jogged, rode his bike, swam when he could, walked, did his stretching exercises every morning. He who didn’t smoke, or drink or eat to excess. Somehow seems unfair, doesn’t it? We never know what is waiting for us, what God has in store for us. We have faith that things will go on as they do, day after day, month after month, year after year, until those days run out.
Dad was trapped in his failing body for a little over a month before he passed away. He said to me one day, while he was hooked up to tubes, his skin punctured with needles, he said to me when he could barely speak anymore: “Please get me out of here.” He barely could whisper, I had to lean my ear down to his mouth. I felt so guilty. What did he mean? Get him out of the hospital? Get him out of his failing body? Neither of those things could I do. Until my brother and I agree to start hospice care, when we both realized he’d never get out of the hospital, not come home, not to a rehab. The body he took such good care of was failing beyond any medical help. Hospice care was how I could get him out of there. And the day we started hospice care, he was finally freed of the body and went to be with his Mom, probably his father, Susan, the daughter he and my Mother had before me who was stillborn, his grandparents whom he spent a lot of time with and loved very much and many other beloved family members…and Cocoa and Bruno, the family dogs he loved.
Dad did a lot for me (Mom, too). They helped me mentally, physically, financially, even when I was well into adulthood. No matter what, they were there for me (especially when I didn’t deserve it, which was many, many times). Dad loved me unconditionally. Even when I borrowed his car and forgot to pick him up from work, even when I didn’t come home when I was supposed to, even when I ran away from home for a few days in my teens, even when I antagonized my mother. No matter what, that love never went away.
When I was a year or so out of high school, living on a bus with my boyfriend, depressed and negative, Dad wrote me a note. I don’t know how I felt when I originally read that note, but after all these years, reading it now? It says it all. He wrote:
I would like to try and let you know my feelings about you. Not how I feel about this or that problem or action but how I feel about you.
I feel love for you, a tender warm feeling of love for you are my daughter. And I feel sadness because of how close we were when you were younger. I felt happy for you about your graduation from high school . When you are unhappy I feel unhappy too and wish I could help you. I don’t feel good when you are hurt.
I feel hope that someday you will feel free to write or talk to me as person to person or better yet as grown up daughter to father.
Dad, I know you love me, you showed it often. You did little things to make me laugh, wrote me notes & cards & drew pictures, you welcomed me home with open arms when I’d been away, and when I lived in Japan you and Mom sent me care packages, not monthly but usually once a week! Dad, I miss seeing you…but your words and actions and spirit are in my heart and mind for as long as I’m able to think. I love you and I hope you and Mom are happy and at peace.
Even though Dave doesn’t read my blog, I want to thank him for encouraging me to do this. I love him with all my heart. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Dad…he had a big heart and kind soul, too.