This is my first father’s day since my dad died. I miss him, but I am not devastated. I was blessed to see my dad live to a ‘reasonable’ age. The end was hard enough on him that I had begun to pray that God would take him home. I honor him today by posting the remarks I spoke at his memorial service in January:
I know this will come as a great shock to those of you who worked with my dad in any capacity, because he hid it so well, but he was somewhat of a perfectionist. He had a tendency to look at any situation in terms of what needed to be fixed, and he wasn’t too shy about telling you what you could do to improve. As his children, we knew that he loved us, and that he was proud of us, but we also got the message that whatever we were doing needed to be tweaked a bit one way or another.
This perfectionism is what caused him to become quite the wood worker. The first coffee table he made fell apart after a few months. He figured out what had gone wrong, and the next one didn’t fall apart. He would do his research, he would learn from his mistakes, and he would improve his results.
This perfectionism contributed to his high school quartet being good enough to gain him a scholarship to Hardin Simmons University, and it helped him graduate from high school early so that he could take advantage of that scholarship.
This perfectionism is what made him adept at foreign languages. When he graduated from seminary, he thought that the whole point of learning Greek was so that he could use his Greek New Testament to prepare his sermons. Not just as a reference to clarify a word or two. He used it as his text. He became known for his Swahili proficiency in East Africa; to the point that he spent his last years, there, teaching other people the language. Later on, he learned Spanish for the purpose of being able to communicate with my brother’s family.
Dad’s perfectionism meant that for whatever job he was assigned at any given time, he would be the first to arrive, the last to leave, and he would give the task his full attention. It made him dependable. You knew that if Eucled Moore was on the job, it would get done. And he would find ways to get it done more efficiently and with better results than it was done yesterday. He pursued the ideal.
My dad’s pursuit of excellence is what made his sermons well thought out, well planned, and polished so that he got the message across in understandable, applicable detail, that was exactly the right length. He had little patience for preachers who ran over their allotted preaching time, no matter how good their message.
Dad was not an adventurer. We as his children joke about the number of places we have been in the world – without seeing anything. We spent hours in airports all over Europe. This is something I understood a bit more clearly when I had five children of my own. It was just too overwhelming to think about navigating a foreign country with five littles in tow. And feeding all those mouths in a restaurant could break you. But his lack of adventurous spirit did not keep him from doing what he believed was his calling. He did leave his home in Crosby, Texas, and travel to the other side of Texas to be the first in his family to go to college. He did leave Texas to follow his call to the ministry, traveling further and further away from home and family until finally he was on the other side of the world. This made him a sort of reluctant pioneer, or trailblazer for his family. But I don’t know that he was really cognitive of that at the time. He was just putting one foot in front of the other as he followed the path God had laid out for him. The result of this has been that we as his children have come to be adventurers. (Well, most of us have.)
My dad was a man who looked for ways to serve wherever he was. And he did what he thought was right no matter what the personal price. I never saw him waver in his faith.
He was a man who valued family. We sat around the table for every meal at his house. We have many fond memories from our youth of meals where tears of laughter rolled down both cheeks as we competed to come up with one more pun. This bent for corny humor that you see in us originated with him. He was known for saying things like, “That makes my happy pooch out all over” Or on a hot day, “I wish I had a tall glass of ice tea, a neck a foot long, with a taster ever half inch!” This love of family extended to his parents and sisters. He did what he could to help care for his elderly parents in their last days, even though he was already struggling with Parkinson’s during that time. And there was never a doubt in our minds that my parents loved each other.
My dad loved music. He loved to sing, he love to hear us sing. He exposed us to all sorts of music: Sons of the Pioneers, Jim Reeves, Mozart, John Denver, Folk music, pop music, easy listening. Every furlough he would upgrade his equipment, from turntable, to cassette, to reel to reel. He was going to have music. No matter how large the crowd on a Sunday morning, I could pick his tenor voice out over the rest of the congregation. In the past 5 or so years, he became enamored with the Polka shows on TV, watching them over and over (and over, and over). I am sad to say I was not around the day he talked mom into trying to learn a few polka steps from one of those shows. But alas, the Parkinson’s was too advanced at that stage to give him much success.
The last few years were very hard for dad. He lived to see his disease take away his ability to speak or sing, his ability to work in his shop, his ability to drive, his ability to read or write, his ability to think clearly. He fought hard to hang on to the things that defined him, and was grieved with each new limitation. But in a moment of clarity a few weeks before his passing, he looked me in the eye and said, “I know I am coming to the end of my life, and that’s ok. I am not afraid.” In the last few moments of consciousness, he raised his arms and looked beyond this world to the next as if to say, “I am ready to come home.” So we grieve our loss, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We know that dad has finally achieved the ideal. He has found the perfection. He can finally rest from his life long pursuit of the excellent, because he has found it. And I think I can hear his voice singing above the heavenly congregation.