Friday, 30 October 2009

My Uncle Al's Eulogy for my Grandfather

Two Eulogies were read at my Opa/Grandfather's funeral.

Here is the official one, delivered by my Uncle Al.




Dear Family and Friends,

As I sit and write this, Psalm 139 comes to mind.

Verse 13, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” These verses reflect the way Dad lived his life. IN spite of the doubts Dad had, Dad lived as an example to us his children and grandchildren. He taught us that God was his God, that, if we trusted him, God would be our God also.

Dad lived that out every day. He read his Bible faithfully. He prayed from his heart. When he sang—and he did not sing outside of church—he sang heartily. When we were younger, he talked with us individually about his faith and our faith. He showed us it wasn’t about feeling, but about trusting that God is as good as his word. The feeling would come later.

Dad encouraged us in everyday ways. When we went to college or university, he encouraged us in that. I remember well a conversation he and I had in my first year of college. He remarked about the changes he saw in me in only four months of study. He understood the value of education how it affects people and gives them a different outlook on life. He was interested in that without having the benefit of the experience himself. In our various experiences, he always had questions to ask, wisdom to offer and failing that, an ear to listen with. Because of his experience as a construction estimator, Dave, Dad and I always had something about which to talk.

Dad was also an industrious person. Witness the fact that he built two homes. The first took a few years to build, but money was short then. But, he and Mom, with some help built it all. When we were young, Saturdays were not spent sitting around like I like to do now, Dad had things to do. The garden consumed some of his time. But Dad built the canoe, made a picnic table, toy chairs for us, a swing set, a bicycle rack—not to mention the repairs on those bikes—bunk beds for Jane and Greta, a desk, more bedrooms in the basement of that house, and the list goes on. When Dad and Mom bought the lot at 312 York Road in October 1973, with tow exceptions, we spent every Saturday from the first weekend in October to Mid-March cutting and clearing trees. We chopped out about an acre of trees in that time. Except for the chainsaw, it was all bull work.

When Dad turned 65, he didn’t know what he needed or wanted to do. He opted for semi-retirement, and his employer was amenable to that. So, for the next year, Dad worked half-time. After that year, he fully retired. True to his industrious nature, Dad still couldn’t sit still. He spent time tutouring at Jarvis Christian School as well as spending time tutouring in the community. Dad also gave us something to read. He wrote a book on the Boonstra family history, starting with his grandparents up to the present (at that time). As if that wasn’t enough, Dad turned his attentions to Mom’s side. Mom had been collection recordings from her family about their history and tighter they collated the findings putting them in book form.
With the exception of bird watching, Dad never engaged in any sport or other hobby. Reading and gardening were his mainstay. Actually, the garden was Mom’s. Dad helped when needed. Dad was a voracious reader.

When we were younger Sunday afternoons were spent walking the trails of Coote’s Paradise, McMaster, or King’s Forest. We learned to identify trees, flowers, and birds. My favourite was Coote’s Paradise because there was a variety of birds, the meadow, forest, and wetlands birds. The things he taught me on these walks were life-long. He had an interest in nature that he passed on to me. Sure, there’ much I don’t know, but what I do know, I learned as much by osmosis as I did by being told. Those were times for me where I connected with Dad in a personal way because, sometimes there were times when I’d be with Dad by myself.
Dad was also a devoted husband. Yes, there was a time earlier when thong weren’t as they should have been, but Dad and Mom worked through those times. After that, they never looked back. They didn’t argue in front of us. They were an example to us of love and devotion. In later years, Mom showed us her devotion to Dad when she took care of him, and later yet, waiting on him, quite literally, hand and foot. They slept in separate bedrooms because Mom, being a light sleeper, was kept awake by Dad’s coughing at nights. When we visited overnight, they always said goodnight to each other with a kiss and an “I love you.” They were married for almost 58 years.

Dad was an integral person, that is, he had integrity. There were no two sides to Dad, no Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He didn’t play favourites with his children, and in his dealings with us, he was honest. In his dealings with others, he was just as honest. I can’t say more to describe him this way, because that is all there is to say. That’s how he was.

Dad was a generous man. The injunction in Malachi 3 is one that he and Mom took seriously and lived by to the day he died. There we are told to test God and see if the will not open the floodgates of Heaven. We cannot out give God. They taught us that concept of tithing. They, if my suspicions are correct, went beyond tithing.

That brings me back to Psalm 139. Verse 16, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Dad has come to the end of his days. His earthly remains were buried just a short time ago. We didn’t know when and how Dad would die. We all knew it would happen. I personally thought it would have happened a long time ago. Dad was not always healthy, nor was he strong. God knew, and he was always in control. After Dad’s major heart attack in 2003, Dad did not venture out much when it was cold, hot or windy. He was susceptible to pneumonia and fluid build-up around hi heart and lungs. Every time he had this he was left a little more weakened than the previous bout.

Psalm 139 Verse 3, “you discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways...You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand on me.”
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”
“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, into verse 10, “even there your right hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.”

The last month of Dad’s life was not easy. He spent two and a half weeks in the hospital on three occasions. The last week was most difficult for Dad. Yet, we read that God’s hand was on him, that Dad could not flee form his presence, that even in the depths, God was there, and that even on the far side of the sea, God’s right hand held him fast.

Verse 17, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with you.

Mom left Dad Friday afternoon to come to get some sleep. Their last words to each other were, “I love you.” When Dad drew his last breath, nobody was close by. Nobody knew he was that close to death. When he awoke, he saw that he was still with God. God had not abandoned him.

Psalm 139 Verse 23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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