Well, friends, I’m just about back in action here at Marriage Confessions. I had a rough time this past week as we formally said goodbye to my dad with his family and friends at a wonderful memorial service that truly did celebrate his life. It was wonderful to see friends of our family that I hadn’t seen in ages and to hear them tell funny stories about my dad. And it was really nice to meet some of his golfing friends that I hadn’t ever met before, but had heard endless stories about. We planned for a small celebration of about 40-50 people, but at the last minute we bumped the count with the caterer up to 75. We ended up having well over 100-120 people there from all parts of my dad’s past and present. It was literally standing room only. It was really heart warming. I know my dad would have been so proud.
My sister and I both spoke at the memorial service. Ginny read a beautiful poem, and she was great. Strong, clear, and genuine in her voice. It choked me all up. I wrote a tribute to Dad on behalf of our whole family. I really thought I could speak. I had written it without shedding a tear, and had read it to a ton of family and friends countless times, all without crying. But there was something about being up in front of people that made it really hard. I did the best I could, but I’m not sure about half of it was understandable through my tears. Oh, well. My dad knew what I was saying.
I’m going to share this tonight, and then tomorrow I’m going to blog about something else. I will continue to mourn the loss of my dad and my family will continue to learn how to move forward carrying his spirit with us, but I’m finding it harder to move forward while I’m still thinking so much about the past. I’m sure I’ll share things with you periodically about my dad or about how my family and I are doing, but right now I need to let go of what has happened, and learn how to live in this new day. I’m ready for that. I think my family is ready for that because it’s what my dad would want.
A TRIBUTE TO MY DAD
August 25, 2012
There is nothing my dad would have loved more than a room full of friends, standing around talking about HIM. So, on behalf of my dad’s ever present ego, thank you for being here today. And on behalf of my mom, my sister, Ginny, our husbands, Chris and John Michael, thank you for being there for us not only today, but in the past two weeks. It has been a whirlwind of emotions as we find peace with the passing of our dad and at the same time celebrate the living legacy of a tiny new Tillman. My mom, sister and I have had conversations over the past two weeks about how difficult it has been to pray right now. We feel God’s presence all around us, and we are comforted in his peace which passes all understanding, but the act of offering a prayer has been difficult for each of us. And we know that it is, therefore, YOUR prayers in which we are finding comfort in each day. And we are forever grateful to you for that.
You only had to meet Dad for two minutes before you knew that he was quite a presence. His laughter could fill a room and most fairways, and the twinkle in his eyes could warm any heart. He was a great, big man, standing taller and broader than most. When my dad walked in, people knew. My mom has said that people had no choice other than to be friends with Dad. If he liked you, you were his buddy – whether you wanted to be or not. He used to tell us about interesting people he met playing golf with threesomes of folks he’d never met before.
“Dad,” I would ask. “Isn’t that awkward to meet all those new people?”
“Why would that be awkward?” he would ask.
“Well, I don’t know. What if they don’t like you?”
“What do you mean? How could they not like me?”
That was my dad. Never knew a stranger. It was a trait that my sister, Ginny, has inherited. Always at home, wherever she is. It’s so very Dave of her.
I remember one time, a family friend asked my dad how he handled living in a house with all us women. Dad didn’t miss a beat. “Never show any fear,” he said.
My mom, sister, and I are taking a page out of my dad’s book right now. As heartbroken as we are, as sad as we feel, as much as we miss him, we are not AFRAID. We are not afraid of life without my dad – because his great, big, warm personality is living on here through each of us and through each of you. We are not afraid of things we left unsaid or unfinished – because with my dad, nothing was ever left unsaid or unfinished. We are not afraid of what happens after death – because our family believes that Dad is resting in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
And whom then shall we fear?
The thing about loving such a powerful presence of a man is that even when he isn’t there anymore, he still lingers. We see him in the faces of our family. We see him in his three grandchildren, Michael, Gracie and Tillman. We see him in the gentle and caring fathers that Chris and John Michael have become. We’ll see him in every fairway we play. And today we see him in each of you.
I’ve been told that it does get easier. That months and years from now, I’ll be able to think and speak about my dad without that incredible weight of finality and panic filling my chest. I hope that they are right. But even when that day comes, when the weight of his passing has lifted from my chest, I will still feel the presence of the man who loved his wife more than any other man I’ve ever known. Ginny and I will still know the feeling of being loved by a father whose world revolved around us.
Even when that day of peace and renewed spirit comes, my mom, sister, and I will walk forward in our lives carrying my dad’s spirit with us. And I hope you do the same. Because once you have been loved by David Tillman, you are always and forever loved by David Tillman.