My brother and I spoke at our dad's memorial service today. While dad
was in hospice we shared memories and compared notes about what we
remembered about dad. As a follow-up to my roller coaster ride here are
the two speeches we gave today.
trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, (my favorite) thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
If he already knew, it was because of the type of people around him. Quality attracts quality. He respected those around him and they respected him.
Secondly, if he didn’t care it was because he was at the top of Maslows Hierarchy of needs. Physiological needs, safety and love, the first three levels, were achieved early in his adult life. I would say once he married my mom. The esteem and self-actualization, the top two levels, would slowly build as he became the great man that he is. He didn’t need anything. He was already filled with morality, creativity, lack of prejudice and acceptance.
As we look back at his youth, he delivered newspapers, was a life guard with significant responsibilities, and a scout. Each of which took a certain amount of dedication, initiative and drive.
Dad was humble about his work and accomplishments. Mom admits to not really know what dad was working on most of the time. Yet she worried about his health because he would spend long hours getting the job done.
This lunch box, to me, is a symbol of hard work. Sturdy and solid, this was used by a man with the same qualities. If he had still used it in retirement it would have, of course, been filled with Double Stuff Oreos...his favorite cookies. Don’t worry…I brought enough for everyone.
After retirement, his hard work continued for 18 more years with Habitat for Humanity. When he wasn’t out golfing with his friends, he was working at a Habitat house twice a week. His work with Habitat and golfing were the primary means of getting dad away from the house, keeping him busy and out of moms hair. It was a highlight of his retirement. A renaissance man doesn’t stop learning. Through Habitat he met many excellent people who shared their talents with him.
He also had a religious faith that carried him through to his death. Wherever he was he became so involved with the church: finance committees, usher, sound system, youth groups, ground maintenance. It seemed like he wanted to know more about the church than the guy who built it.
All of the things I have mentioned above have one common thread. And it is something that a person either has or does not. Some are born with it and some it has to develop. Leadership. Dad had it all along. How else do you get your office staff to call you Mr. Gibb, Sir. That’s like a double dose of respect. To this day one very special person still simply calls him Sir. And that is something that is earned. As we gather in the barn later you will see many awards that are a result of his leadership abilities. But the unseen reward is the love and respect of his family, co-workers and peers.
I share these words from a neighbor at Weslyan Village.
Sadly, we lost one of our wonderful neighbors this week. John seemed to live his life finding ways to help others. Despite battling a terrible disease, he maintained his good humor and helpful nature. One would never know that he bore this burden. His manner with everyone was unfailingly upbeat and pleasant.
I cannot recall any specific words of advice he offered me. Instead, everything I learned is through his character and actions. Hard work, Respect (of others / by others), compassion towards and acceptance of all people. How else could he have handled “unique” situations presented by Rob (a gay man in the early 80’s) and I (becoming a father at age 19). He never wavered. He never hesitated. He accepted the situation. He accepted his son’s for who they were. Rob was the first to thank our parents, and I wholeheartedly agree, for not (insert colorful language)
I am still learning from my dad. I am still learning how to be the man he is. But I have a pretty good blueprint to follow.
I can't say these are our final words about dad. If you ask about him we will talk and share our memories of our lives with him. With these memories he will always be with us.