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Eulogy: My Father-in-Law September 18, 2007

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Family.
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Ed, my father-in-law, passed away at 5:21 AM on 9/18/2007. My wife suggested that it was his daughters’ singing that did it, but I’m convinced that hearing them sing would have given him the greatest joy. Saturday evening, he supposedly started singing suddenly, though none of the children were able to figure out exactly what the song was. He was a strong Christian father, served as a deacon at their home church in Texas, and demonstrated more of humility of Christ than perhaps any man I’ve ever known.

Ed was a man of few words, but was never reluctant to tell his family (including his son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws) that he loved them. If asked how he was going, he would simply reply “fat and sassy.” Although he’d been heavy in the earlier part of his life and had a strong frame, I’ve never known the man to be fat. Likewise, “sassy” is something that could be said of him only with a sense of the ridiculous.

Then again…

If you bumped your head, stubbed your toe, or otherwise did something not-terribly serious that resulted in pain, Ed’s immediate observation would be a deadpan: “It looks like that would hurt.” From any other man, those words might come across as uncaring, sarcastic, or harsh. From Ed, it always generated laughter and a break in the tension of the injury.

His parenting advice was simple and straightforward: “I’d rather pay grocery bills than doctor bills” (suggesting that the most important thing a parent could do was to feed the children when they’re hungry, advice that I have clearly heeded), and “don’t send ’em, go with ’em” (which was his admonishment toward a life journey where parents and children experience things together). Those two things made up the sum of his parenting advice to anyone who would ask.

He lived a long life (married for 55 years to my mother-in-law Erma), had four children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. The family moved here from Garland, Texas in 1970, having been transferred by Ford to work at the Light Truck Plant on Fern Valley road. Ed worked for Ford for a total of 42 years, many of those years consisting of 10-hour days, seven days a week.

He was a veteran of WWII, often telling my sons to make sure they could type, because that skill (unusual for a draft-age man at that time) was what earned him the job of Medical Transcriptionist at a London hospital, and not in combat. In his later years he spoke about his service, but the story he told most often was of the long ride home from Europe on the deck of The Queen Mary, and his joy at seeing the Statue of Liberty as they neared New York City. (I never bothered to check the facts of his story, but have never heard anything to contradict it.)

Stories told by the family of various life events almost always contain a component of Ed’s long suffering temperament and his quiet demeanor. Whether it was his ability to drive (without relief) the virtually endless miles between Kentucky and Texas on their many trips “home” (he was a resident of Kentucky, but Ed would always be a Texan), his tolerance of family members and luggage being jammed into a much-too-small rental car (Jerry Seinfeld’s rental car experience pales in comparison), or his unwillingness to tolerate teenage temper tantrums by simply walking away (I’ll spare my brother-in-law the embarrassment of explaining this one), Ed was always the picture of quiet strength and patience.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers as the family (including the associated in-laws and out-laws) have walked this path.

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