Many of you know that Cathy's father was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in
March 1996. After 4 years, he lost his battle on August 23, 2000. Cathy read these words at
his memorial service:
It wasn't until college that I started describing my dad as my hero. He, more than anyone, could make me feel safe in the world. There was nothing he couldn't do. He could do more with only one hand than anybody I know. I canít think of anyone more industrious than he was, though my sister Barb is a close second. One time I called him from my dorm room at 9:00 in the morning. Sitting on my bed in my pajamas I asked him what he had been up to. He said "Well, I've washed the car, mowed the lawn, emptied the dishwasher and now I'm making a cobbler, how about you?"
My dad was incredibly capable...he could fix cars, build swimming pools, mend fences, and repair almost anything. Not only was he able, he was also confident, strong, and smart. If he wanted something done, he would simply do it. He could hike and climb for miles, knew how to fly an airplane, and could tie his own flies for fishing.
At first, I thought of my dad as a hero because he could do so much. But as I've thought about it more I realize he was a hero in a much truer and more significant way. Dad gave so much to my sister and me. He gave us a sense of security that we never questioned. Barb and I knew that while we could make Dad angry or disappoint him, we also knew that nothing we did would change his love for us. We took that feeling for granted, not knowing how few people actually get to experience it.
He was a man of integrity and honesty. We could trust him and he taught us the importance of loyalty and keeping our word. Dad stood for what he believed and was vocal about it, and he encouraged us to do the same. He trusted us and respected our opinions even when they disagreed with his own, which was often. Our parents instilled in us a deep sense of respect for others and a strong, healthy sense of self-respect, which has been invaluable.
My dad was a man of many passions...family, friendship, wilderness, hiking, hunting, fishing, and cars, to name a few. He was charming and friendly. He was an optimist. I once heard him talking to a woman who knew him as a boy. She told him that she had always felt a little guilty, because it was her family's gun that my dad was cleaning when he lost his arm. I'll never forget my dad's response. He said, "Don't feel bad. If I hadn't lost my arm, I would have stayed in Orland and taken over the farm. I never would have gone to college and I wouldn't have met Pearl and had my two girls. So, really, I should be thanking you."
Now my dad is gone, but he has left us all so much. He and my mother had a loving marriage and created a nurturing home that lasted for 36 years. I believe that both my sister and I married men who, though they may not be as handy around the house, share so many of my dad's most important qualities. It meant so much to me that my dad was able to take me down the aisle in June, and it meant a lot to all of us that he was able to meet his two beautiful grandchildren Noah and Adriana. It was hard on our family to watch dad grow weaker over the years and the last few months have been devastating. My mom has lovingly and respectfully taken amazing care of him. To watch my dad, this strong capable man, become so desperately dependent on others was cruel. Mercifully, he is not suffering any longer.