As many of you know, my Pa passed away on Valentines Day after experiencing head injuries from multiple falls. He had Alzheimer's Disease as well and was 82 years old. I post the below eulogy not to receive any accolades but to share with you all what my Pa meant to me and others and more importantly what the power of God's grace can do in a person's life... To God Be the Glory~
Good morning,It is an honor to be able to speak to you all today. For many of you, Giles was a trusted friend, a neighbor, a fellow church member and to others he was a beloved brother, father, husband and to us grand kids he was simply our “Pa.” So today it is pleasure to talk to you about my Pa. One of the things we loved most and will also miss the most about our Pa was his eccentric behavior – whether it was having a jumping contest with us at the age of 80, brushing cat hair off an unsuspecting boyfriend’s jeans with a cat hair brush the very first time they had ever met, having my law student husband literally swear us in on an oath of secrecy about his latest invention, riding his bike so far with my then high-school aged brother that the younger of the two had to ask to turn around and go back, or trying to break in a horse all on his own and leaving our dad as the guinea pig for seeing how good of a job he had done – our visits with our Pa were never without entertainment and certainly not without laughter. One of the things we dreaded most was the “Pa talk” – these were times when Pa would feel very strongly the need to pull one of us aside (or again that unsuspecting boyfriend aside) to lay out his thoughts and feelings about our life. So when my Pa invited me to dinner alone with him almost 9 years ago in May of 2001, I was prepared for my long awaited “Pa talk” about my upcoming marriage. What I was not prepared for was for this conversation to be about was his final wishes and how he wanted this very service to unfold today. So over pizza at Mr. Gattis off of Lakeshore Drive, my Pa talked to me for over 2 hours about his childhood, his testimony, regrets, proudest moments and some stuff I going to use editorial discretion and not share with all of you. My Pa grew up in a large family with 3 brothers and 3 sisters – with Pa right there in the middle. He shared with me all about growing on the farm in Tennessee. He shared that his childhood was not always easy but spoke with great admiration for his mother who was fittingly named Grace. He spoke of good friends growing up and how he loved to play football with those friends. He also spoke with great sadness about the death of his older brother Winfred. But the main thing my Pa wanted to share with me was his journey with Lord. He remembered having his first “salvation” experience at the age of 13 in a little church on top of the hill in Tennessee. But he also remembered receiving no counseling and being too ashamed to go through with a baptism in the river worried about what his friends would think. It was not until 1978 much later in life that my Pa truly believed he was saved – 2 years in fact after he and Glenda were married. Oh and Glenda – how he spoke of you was so full of love. He told me how his proposal to you consisted of a contract to take care of you, Julie and Jeff. He told me you had but one demand and that was to get married in a church and to also have a red rose. So y’all walked into a church in LOVE County Oklahoma on a weekday, wrote your vows on a brown paper bag and the rest is history. And while that day was of huge importance to him, I think he was even prouder of the day walked into the United Methodist Church on Cobbs street here in Waco in 1978 and fully surrendered his life to the Lord. You see, he said how much he wanted his kids to know the Lord but knew he himself had no right to talk since his own relationship with Christ was not where it should be. He referred to the verse in Matthew 10:22 which says “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” He spoke highly a man named Dick Leaper who discipled him and taught him how to share Jesus with others. My Pa began to read God’s Word daily and learned the discipline of memorizing scripture – and praise God he did. He remembered clearly a time after this change when he saw an old Tennessee friend named Jimmie Sutton at Browder’s one day who asked him, “Do you know the Lord Jesus?” and Pa was able to eagerly respond “I do!” My thoughts after Pa shared so many different things with me that night centered around grace. Here was a man who very openly admitted he had made his share of mistakes – in fact he got choked up several times as he thought of his past transgressions and pain that they had caused others. He spoke with great joy, love and compassion for his children. I think the difference between my Pa and many sinners (of which we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God) is that my Pa freely accepted God’s gift of forgiveness and lived his life differently from that point on because of that gift. He referenced the passage is Psalms 51 which I think spoke straight to his heart – it reads in part: “Have mercy on me, O God according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… Surely your desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice…Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth with declare your praise.”One his memories he shared with me that really blessed him was when Julie told him something Caitlin had told her. Apparently when Julie asked Caitlin at a young age if she knew about Jesus, she matter of factly said, “Yes, Grandpa talked to me about Jesus.” Not everyone has as grandfather who will boldly proclaim the love of Jesus to anyone he meets – but I did. Praise God I did. Praise God we did. It was such a joy to be able to spend the last days of his life here on earth sitting by his bed reading Scriptures to him. His personal Bible was there with him so one night I just read the parts he had underlined – when I got to the verse in Jeremiah which says “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” my Pa who had not moved a muscle in hours or even acknowledged my presence in the room shot his hands straight up into the air in his very familiar and recognizable prayer stance. I believe with all my heart that in that in the midst of his final days, in the midst of years of mental decline and confusion and in the midst of anxiously awaiting to be fully healed and made whole in presence of the Lord, God’s Word rang loud and clear in my Pa’s heart and mind. That is the power of God’s Word and power of God in my Pa’s life. It is a power available to each of you today and I can think of no better way to honor my Pa’s memory than for me to share with you plainly today that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And “that it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” The same God that radically changed my Pa’s life and took him from that 13 year old boy who was too afraid to be baptized in the river scared of what others would think to the unashamed man of God he became is anxiously waiting to do the same for you - all you have to do is ask Him to. My Pa was a great man of faith, not afraid to admit that he made mistakes in life, but also was not afraid to change his ways and spend the rest of his life earnestly seeking to bring glory and people to God’s kingdom. To God be the Glory. Thank you.