Thank You, Dad

My dear father left his physical body December 10. These are the words I spoke at his funeral a week later:

Thank you, Dad.

Thank you for your commitment to excellence in service—from showing up with a water delivery at the promised time to continually studying and striving to be a better person.

Thank you for your independent spirit and determination—for setting goals and working tirelessly to reach them.

Thank you for showing us how to be a true friend—always listening and wanting to help others, even when it wasn’t convenient or easy.

Thank you for all the laughter—for the silly stories you could hardly finish because you would start laughing at what was in your head before you could get the words out. As my younger nephew Shane observed once, “You crack yourself up, don’t you, Pop-pop?”

Thank you for your sly smile when you were spinning tales and for that huge welcoming smile when we walked in the door to spend time with you.

Thank you for an appreciation of all kinds of artistry. You got so tickled by fine craftsmanship, whether it was of cars, scones, or shoes. (After all, when you buy high quality shoes, you get to wear them for 50 years. And he did.) You shared your passion for photography and music with us. Thank you for all those memories, including me long ago playing the clarinet here in this front church pew while you played your saxophone and Mom played the organ.

Thank you for your excitement about the simple things: books, coffee and ice cream, road trips. You knew well the joyful freedom of being in the driver’s seat—a life lesson for sure, as we always have a choice in where we go and what direction we take to reach our destinations.

Thank you for taking me to work with you when I was little. I remember the thrill of sitting in the Peterbilt’s passenger seat high above the traffic and of climbing up the ladder to walk across the top of the trailer, excitedly peering into the hatches to watch the water level rise. I remember how much we both loved the tuna salad sandwich at the natural foods store and how we could never quite replicate it at home. I also remember sharing my first Dr. Pepper with you at the station and how you drank more than half of it when you “tasted” it.

Thank you for the one-on-one conversations, especially these last few years as both you and Mom faced medical scares. Thank you for being vulnerable with me, for allowing me to see even more of your beautiful spirit.

Thank you for showing us what boundless unconditional love looks like, especially in your relationship with Mom. I have never seen two people love each other more.

Thank you for your heart, for my heart. At times I have cursed you for these active Walsh tear ducts, but truthfully I am grateful for the ability to feel so deeply and passionately about life. You recognized this life as a gift and made the most of it.

A few weeks ago, Dad and I were talking about one of his health concerns that was troubling him, and I was encouraging him to seek another doctor’s opinion so he could hopefully get relief from the pain. I told him, “You were not put here to be in pain.” And he replied, “No, I should be out inspiring others.” He always wanted to be of service. I hope his life has inspired you as it has me, to embrace life fully and to live according to our values with excitement, laughter, gratitude, and love.

Thank you for being here and for loving us.

The grief is fresh and sometimes overwhelming, but my overall feeling is gratitude: for a long life well lived, for the end of his pain and frustration, for the gift of him being my father, for quality time spent with him, for no regrets.

Take a few minutes to think about this question: What’s important to you? Does your answer match how you spend your time? If not, you may want to refocus so that you don’t have regrets later on.

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