Everyone in our family can sing or play an instrument, except for dad, who could carry a tune, but often wished aloud that he had a better voice. Yet, whether on the boat or in the car, traveling across country, nobody enjoyed a rousing chorus of a sea shanty—or a sentimental ballad—more than my dad. He was a lot of fun.
I'd like to take a moment to thank my father personally for a few things.
Dad, thank you for teaching us all so much: like map-reading and navigating, standing night watches on deck alone at sea with our harnesses on, or prudently setting two anchors in a storm. For teaching us to pitch a tent and set up camp in a few short minutes—other campers gasped in amazement! How to pace ourselves on those long, hot climbs up all those mountains—and to stop, at last, and spend time just appreciating the view from the top.
Thank you for the example of your life of service to Church and country, for your fidelity to Mom and our family, for teaching us to love history, to revel in a good book or a classic movie, to absorb the subtle music of a quiet forest, to share the countless wordless moments of family life that have laid a sacred foundation to all our lives.
Thank you for encouraging me to write, by giving me my first typewriter and my first collection of Shakespeare's plays. For sharing your French story books with me, teaching me to drive a stick-shift; for confiding that you'd never felt a consolation in prayer, for not getting angry the only time I let fly with a bad word in front of you. I think your exact response was, "Something you learned in college, dear?"
Dad, we won't know the precise moment you enter God's presence, but sometime soon, you'll be with your beautiful mother and sisters, other relatives and friends. I hope they've got sailboats in heaven, that God finally gives you the voice you always wanted, and that you're singing in the heavenly choir.
Your final years were hard ones, but you had Mom at your side, helping you climb that last mountain, and praying you to the top. The view must be incredible from where you are.
The rest of us have yet to climb it, but we will before too long, and then you'll be praying us to the top. And we'll look out over the view from the summit at your side. Just like we did before.
We'll see you when we get there, Dad. I love you.
Thank you, and God bless you all.