Dad passed away quietly early last Tuesday morning. Both Lisa and I were there. Lisa has been amazing as she has taken care of him over the last eight months in the hospital. I arrived Sunday evening, and although Dad was unable to speak very well, he knew who I was and conveyed all the love in the world to me through his clear, intent, blue eyes. I'll never forget being next to him on Sunday night, when he woke up and clearly told me that he loved me.
Dad is known for people able to joke and laugh even under the most challenging circumstances. On Monday morning, the doctor came in for his usual rounds, and dad perked right up enough to share a wisecrack. When he passed away on Tuesday morning, the nurses thought he was joking, which dad would have found more than amusing. He also would have laughed at the fact that it took awhile for the nurses to figure out that he wasn't here. "Can't you even figure out if a man's dead?" he would have said. And he would have forever teased them about it.
I wish I could have known him better. I miss him already, even though we didn't spend much time together. I already miss his voice and his slightly off color jokes. And I miss the twinkle in his eye when he had a good quip ready to play or when he found something funny.
At the memorial service yesterday, our branch president said that he had never been to a funeral with so many cheerful faces. Dad would have liked that. He had said that he didn't like long, serious, preachy funerals. His brother gave the eulogy, and it was full of funny dad moments. My niece, Emma, sang "Give, Said the Little Stream," which Dad insisted we sing whenever he was with us for family night It was nice that president knew dad, and he gave a beautiful, not solemn or preachy, talk. Then we all got together to eat, look at pictures, listen to dad's goofy music collection, and laugh.
My sister, Lisa, had put together a list of "Mike Lessons," and she was gracious enough to let me share them with her at the service. A few years ago, I was asked to give a talk about things I learned from dad, and the things that I came up with then are similar. Lisa has a gift for expressing them, though, and you could almost hear dad say these things. He never really gave advice or counsel, but these are things that he taught us through his example. For those of you that know dad, I'm going to print them below. They capture dad to the essence. If we can do anything to honour dad, it would be to find the joy in life, laugh off challenges, and live life to the fullest.
(lessons lived…and a few one liners)
Collected by Lisa M.
Don’t complain. While “Nobody will listen anyway” is a smarty pants reason why, complaining makes people unhappy.
If you feel disappointed, get to work to make something good happen.
Don’t let people tell you that something is too hard. What do they know anyway?
There eventually comes a time when it is better to be smart than stubborn – but don’t let on that you know that.
Talking about yesterday’s good times strengthens you for today’s hard times.
There’s a song for absolutely every situation. If you can’t think of one make one up.
If you learn something well enough it never goes away…such as Robert Service poems and Ford Parts Numbers
If you want cows to go south, chase them north.
When the going is tough, do something hard. That way you know you will be able to do it on easier days.
There is only one thing you need to know about plumbing…
True friendships never sour with absence, but there’s a comfortable-ness in friends you see often.
Everybody is basically good. If you don’t think so you just haven’t looked hard enough.
I can make your life miserable if you bad mouth someone I love.
If you haven’t got a sense of humour you’re in pretty bad shape.
Top sheets should never be tucked in. Ever!
Multitasking is rarely the best plan – one should never trim toenails and watch TV at the same time.
If you drop it…pick it up.
It’s good to take risks, but if you smear wasabi on your first ever sushi, be prepared for the consequences.
It might look like a mess to you but that is a piece of good organization.
Gas is better out than in.
Sarcasm can cut like a knife but carefully applied can smooth out rough spots in life.
Brakes are optional.
It’s a real relief to know that God understands everything about us.
If your food doesn’t make you sweat or sneeze, add more pepper.
When you are breaking a habit give yourself a chance to be happy with your progress.
There are small and large spoons for good reason. Use them both.
Roses are beautiful but pansies are the friendliest flowers around.
The more dog-eared a book, the better it feels in your hands.
There is something satisfying about an egg salad sandwich.
Needles are overrated. So is macaroni and cheese.
Being grateful makes everyone happy.
If you drink too much water it will rust out your insides.
Holding a grudge is a complete waste of energy.
Keep your favourite foods handy. The anticipation of eating will make you happy.
If something is important enough you’ll figure out a way of doing it.
Add more sugar to your cereal on bad days.
Tell your family you love them – even when you are sitting with your manly friends.
Take good care of your neighbours.
When you have friends you are rich.