Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Miss you Daddy

One year ago today I received a heart-wrenching phone call at 5 a.m. It was my sister calling to tell me that my father had just passed away. He had been suffering for a few years with a degenerative disease called Lewy Body Dementia. Watching him deteriorate was difficult for everyone, all of his friends and especially his family. We watched him go from being a very athletic, intelligent, funny, artistic man to a shell of what he once used to be.

(The photo below is of my parents in China 3.5 years ago when we went to bring the Ladybug home.)

But, I am not writing today to dwell on the loss of this amazing man. Instead I am writing to remember him and keep him alive in the memory of others. He brought such joy and laughter to everybody he met, and that is what I want to remember and keep alive. He was so talented in everything he did... he was a pilot, an artist, a singer, a dancer, a gymnast, a comedian, a husband, a grandfather, and my daddy.

At his memorial, I was asked to share my memories of my father. One year ago I posted the eulogy that I gave, and I wish to post it again today. For his memorial I created a movie of his life. During the first part, I provide the background song of Blue Skies. The rest of the music is by Isreal Iz Kamakawiwo'ole. Below are parts one and two of his movie. Included in the movie are scenes from our visit to China to bring home our little Ladybug.

For all of my blogger friends out there who never had the opportunity to meet my father, I hope that you will take the time to "meet" him today. His life, positive attitude, and outgoing personality blessed so many people whom he encountered throughout his life, and that is why I am honoring today.

It is a difficult thing for a daughter to eulogize her father, especially when I feel that his life was cut far too short by a disease that robbed him of so many beautiful memories yet to be made. And yet, as I have spent the last week looking through numerous photo albums and memories from his life, I am left with one realization… Jerry was a man wealthy in adventure, and the love of family and friends. He was a man whom people adored, whom they felt honored to call a friend.

One day while he was in the home, I paid him a surprise visit with “treats” in tow. I felt like a teenager, sneaking out of my parents’ home to go drink some beer with friends (by the way mom, I never did that). Hi face lit up excitedly as soon as I walked into his room with the hoppy libations slightly hidden in a brown bag, under my arm. I felt so naughty to be bringing him the beer. He eagerly sat down in his lounge chair awaiting that Bavarian beverage, something he had not had the pleasure of enjoying since he entered the home. As we tasted our first sip, he licked his lips and breathed a sigh of relief… just the taste he needed to quench his thirst.

While enjoying the beer, we talked about the brewing process (he informed me of a lot of things that he recalled from many years ago). He also recalled a story about the fact that he wasn’t sure if he liked this particular beer. He pondered this for a moment and then concluded with, “I guess I do like this…now I know.”

As I look back on this conversation, I keep hearing those words resonating in my mind. Now he knows. Now he knows. There is so much that many of us ask about what will happen to us after our lives are finished here on earth. We here believe in the glories of heaven that await us all. Yet now, I can hear him again saying from the heavens above, “Now I know.” I am very comforted by this fact… now he does know.

During this special visit, I asked dad some questions, sort of like James Lipton on his show, In the Actor’s Studio. Below are some of his funny and heartarming responses.

Favorite food is Mexican food.
Least favorite food = “Liver and bubblegum.”
His favorite activity was singing.
His favorite job (career) was singing at Disneyland.
“If you could say anything to mom right now, what would you tell her?” “I love you.”
“If you could say anything to Heidi right now, what would you tell her?” “I love you.”
“If you could say anything to Kristin right now, what would you tell her?” “I love you.”
Favorite thing to hear is “I Love You.”

Dad did have his funny side, as many of you know. As my husband commented recently, “Jerry was a prankster with a sharp wit and a straight face. One popular Jerryism goes,
If’n you ain’t out by sundown, it’ll be curtains fer you. And if’n it weren’t for Venetian blinds, it’d be curtains fer all of us.
You could never really tell if he was joking until the joke was clearly on you, and even then, you could never be 100% sure the joke was over.” As I was putting together the memory video for my father, I came across so many wonderful memories. One, a video was taken in the Forbidden City in China (from where we brought home our beautiful daughter). This vast imperial palace is located in the middle of Beijing and served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as being the ceremonial and political center of Chinese Government. The complex covers 867,000 square yards with vast interior spaces. While viewing the open courtyards, Jerry gazed from one side slowly to the other and finally he said, “I think this would be a great place for a rodeo.” Ever the jokester, he always had a way to make us laugh.

Last night I was speaking with my daughter.
I asked her, “You miss Papa Franz?”
She replied, “Yes, I miss him very much. Momma, well where is Papa Franz… he not here anymore?”
“No honey, he isn’t.”
“Well, what happened to him, did he fall down? I think he fell down,” she pondered a little more.
“Papa is in heaven. He is there with the angels and with God. We won’t see him again until we go to heaven,” I said.
Her reply was this, “God lives up in the sky, so if God lives up in the sky, then Papa Franz went up to the sky to be with God. That’s nice.”

He did go up to the sky, into heaven to be with God. I can see him now, flying around freely… singing once again with an amazing barbershop quartet. That is what always made him happy.

This vision reminds me of a song that was very dear to the two of us… Blue skies, smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies do I see.

I hear him in heaven now singing these beautiful words. That is all he has now is gorgeous blue skies.

I would like to conclude with a poem that dad had hanging in his den. I looked at it often, yet never really read it until last night.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings,
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds… and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of… wheeled, and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence.
Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long delirious, buring blue
I’ve topped the wind swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew…
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer John G. Magee, Jr.

I Love You Daddy…
Enjoy those blue skies and
Keep on singing and flying.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing



Anonymous said...

That's lovely, Kristin. Thank you for sharing.


Anonymous said...

Awwww that was beautiful. It made me want to cry.

ALex Fallon

Amy, Patrick & Quinn said...

Bailey, what a beautiful way to honor your Dad. Have a beautiful trip!! Can't wait to hear about journey #2!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, beautiful remembrance. And what a way to honor your dad--he obviously was and is very proud of you and the rest of your family.

Love and our very best wishes as you begin your second trip of a lifetime! Your dad's spirit goes with you.

Lynne and Ed
Proud parents of Amelia MeiYun, age 4
Born PRC