What a difference a week makes. Just a few hours after I wrote my last blog post, my Dad passed away. We knew this day was coming but I guess we had hoped that we would be able to put it off as long as possible. I don't think anyone can ever be truly ready for something like this.
Norm and I flew to Chicago that very same night (just 5 days before we were originally scheduled to go for his birthday luau) I was glad that we could be there to help with the planning and everything came along as smooth as we could have hoped for.
When my Mom asked me if I could give the eulogy, I wasn't sure that I would be able to do it. I just tried to remember that I wanted to everyone to hear what I had to say about my dad (not just my sniffles and sobbing :) Here is what I said:
Raymond Carter Anderson was born in Franklin Park, IL on June 23, 1938 and passed away at home on Friday, June 15, 2012. Ray served his country in the Marine Corps from 1961 to 1967. Ray also spent 49 years working in road construction as a superintendent for the RW Dunteman Co, Frandsen & Peters and Plote Inc. He retired in October 2010. Ray's love of gardening, hunting and car racing came second only to his love for his family. Ray is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Jacqueline, nee Arhan; his three children, Laura (Nofoa) Tevaga, Cynthia (Ken) Logsdon and Raymond (Kelly); and his four grandchildren Kobe, Tehani, Charlotte and Ronan; he was preceded in death by his mother Laura Finke, his infant daughter Julie and his sister Laurnelle Wegrzyn. He will be greatly missed.
I'd be crazy if I thought that I could sum up my dad's entire life in just a few short sentences. How do I cover all of the things he did, all of the lives he's touched, and the difference that he has made in this world. I also know that don't have enough time to tell you all of the wonderful memories I have of him--like the time that he bagged up all of my clothes and threw them out of the window when I wouldn't clean my room. Or there's the one (and only) time that I have ever seen my Dad speechless when we threw him a surprise retirement party.
I would, however, like to share with you just a few of the lessons that I've learned from my Daddy (because yes--my sister, brother and I still call our Dad Daddy :)
Ray Rule #1--No Excuses My Dad didn't have what others might consider an easy childhood. He was raised on the family's farm with my grandmother, who was a single mother, his sister Laurnelle, and his Uncles Ray, Hank and Tony. When my dad was only 15 years old, he dropped out of high school so he could get a job and help out. It would've been easy for my Dad to make excuses about all of the reasons why he shouldn’t succeed. Instead, he went to work and got his first job as a pinsetter at the bowling alley. After that he became a brick mason and then became the youngest truck driver for Standard Oil. And at the ripe old age of 22, my Dad started working in road construction. Which bring us to Ray Rule #2...
Find Something You Are Good At And Stick With ItMy Dad was meant to build roads. He loved what he did and he was good at it too. I know it sounds strange to say that road construction was his passion, but I think all of you that have worked with him, know that this is true. He was very proud of the work that he did. In fact, we spent many a Sunday riding around to different job sites that he was working on. I would even venture to guess that there is not a single person here right now that was able to get here this morning without driving on a road that was built by my Dad and one of his crews. Thats a lot of road.
Ray Rule #3 is The Early Bird Gets the WormIf I had a nickel for every time I heard him say this, I would be a rich, rich girl. To say that my Dad was a morning person would be the understatement of the year. Growing up, none of my friends ever wanted to sleep at my house because they knew that there was a very good chance that we could be awakened before 5am. I know there are people that sometimes wish they could have more hours in the day—Well, my Dad basically MADE more hours in the day by getting up (and getting us up) while it was still dark out. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in high school that I finally realized that not all people get up before the sun comes up. I know there are some of you here that know what I am talking about because I actually had TWO different people tell me yesterday that they used to go and hide out in the morning before they were supposed to start working. Othewise my Dad would pull up and tell them “Let’s go to work!”
I wanted to finish by sharing one of the most important things that I think I have learned from my Dad and that’s thatThere Is Nothing More Important Than Family. I’m not sure if this was because of his upbringing—growing up without a father—but my Dad always put our family first. I’d like to share a blog post that I wrote recently that really sums this up for me:
I've heard and read stories from people about the awful childhoods they had to endure. I, on the other hand, had a wonderful childhood. Although I wasn't spoiled (ok, I wasn't spoiled that much :) I don't think I ever wanted for anything. More important than that, I've always know that my father loved our family. Period. He's been a wonderful Dad, mentor, friend and example. I like to think this is part of the reason that I turned out the way I did (you know, only slightly dysfunctional :) And part of the reason that I am going to miss my Dad so much when he is no longer here. What if I still have questions for him? Or need to ask him investing advice? Or talk to him about my next home remodeling project? I KNOW that our family will be together again one day. And I KNOW that I will be OK after my Dad is gone. Because of all the things that he has taught me. And shown me. And everything you've done for me and Cynthia and Raymond. Thank you. For everything.
I wrote this for my Dad late on Friday afternoon. Just a few short hours before he passed away. As his health declined these last few months he had told me several times “Laura, I’ve lived a great life. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do.” My Dad had no regrets. I hope that I can live my life like he did. That I can be the type of person that he raised me to be. I hope that I can make a difference in this world like he did. I know it’s made all of the difference in my life having HIM as my Dad.
I have a card for my Dad that he never got to open. It's his fathers Day card. Id like to read it to him now...
I hope you know how much I love you and what a great example you have been to me. You have pushed me to become the person I am today. Thank you for always believing in me. I love you--now and forever!
I love you Daddy. I’m going to miss you.