"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

22 October 2010

Eulogy

What I read at Daddy's memorial service: some of you have asked for this, and I've finally had time to get the changes completed. Thanks for caring!

Harold Eugene Blitch

3 August 1919 – 19 September 2010

“Dad has always been the strongest man I’ve ever known,” my brother remarked one day, and it was so hard to see him physically decline, after a lifetime of never slowing down.

Yet even now, Daddy’s strength is not really gone, not the important strength that has shaped, and will continue to shape, our lives. This strength cannot ever change, because it is the strength of love: love that derives from the love of God and has sustained his family and flowed out to friends and to innumerable people known and unknown.

Love of country led Daddy into the Air Force during World War II, and around the world flying transport. I grew up on stories of his flying “the Hump,” buying sapphires in India for Mother, dropping a monkey he’d adopted over the ocean because it insisted on trying to fly the plane, and the forced landing in a Brazilian jungle, where he spent his wedding day being paddled down the Amazon to a rescue ship . . . “It’s just what one does,” he said – serve your country in time of need.

That same sense of responsibility in his love of humanity led him to search for survivors in a massively destructive tornado in Waco and also to Mexico to help a sister church in their building and farming, as well as to his support of various charities over the years.

I’ve heard it said of many people that they never met a stranger. It was true for my daddy. There was never a person he couldn’t talk to, couldn’t develop a conversation with, couldn't make laugh. And so he had many friends over the years, friends he played bridge with, hunted and fished with, worked with, helped when they were in need.

But his love for us, his family, is of course the love that I know the best and that has been most important for all of us. Nearly 58 years of memories, plus the stories from his years before my birth, create a flood that is hard to choose from.

One of the few times I saw him cry was at his mother’s funeral, after helping his sister take care of her in her last years. He made the time and effort for fishing and camping trips with his younger brother, and was teasing and joking with his “baby sister,” as he always called her, into his final days.

Of course, I know him best as a daddy. The time he gave to Mike and me – hunting and fishing and Scouts and all those manly things he and Mike did together (most of which I couldn’t make myself love), but for both of us – setting up hay bales for archery and teaching us to shoot, flooding the garden for winter ice-skating, taking us to campus for sledding and skating when the pond froze hard enough, canoeing and camping trips, reading to us, playing croquet on summer evenings, chasing fireflies . . . simply being with us. As the consummate “daddy’s girl,” I shall always hold the memory of sitting curled up in his lap when he came home from work, and the knowledge of complete safety which has made it easier for me to trust my heavenly Father in my later years.

Oh, so many memories! But the most important gift Daddy gave Mike and me was his love for our mother. For 67 years, he made his wife the center point of his earthly loves and in so doing showed us what love is. I am sure I received my fair share of childhood spankings, but the only one I remember is the one that resulted from sassing my mother at the dinner table; the only time he ever spanked any of my children was for the same reason. He could tolerate a great deal from us – but absolutely not disrespect for the woman he loved. That was never tolerable.

He adored his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; even when he began having trouble remembering all those names, he knew them as family to be loved – just their pictures drew great joy into his eyes.

I am sure my daddy must have had his faults – he was human like us all – but this I have before me as clear as a cloudless noon: my daddy loved my mother, and therefore all is well in the world, no matter the suffering and brokenness that plagues us. Because nothing else, however pressing or difficult, is as important as this; only if Daddy could stop loving would the world end, and he cannot stop loving – even now . . . no, especially now, now that his love has been perfected in his Savior’s. What a privilege we have had.

7 comments:

barn swallow said...

Your dad's life is a beautiful true story. Thank you for sharing it.

Beth Impson said...

Thanks, Elena. I read your poem about your dad to my mom and she loved it.

barn swallow said...

I'm so glad!

Millie said...

This genuinely brought tears to my eyes. What a blessed legacy, and I pray that as you process and heal, that the joy of who your Dad is will be superior to the sorrow.

Beth Impson said...

Oh, thanks, Millie! Mid-November for TCR publication, last I heard, by the way.

Gwen Behrends said...

Thank you, Mary Beth, for encouraging me to check this out. I lost my mom a year ago and almost my dad this fall. He's cut from the same cloth as yours -- I didn't understand that he really wasn't perfect until in college at K-State. So many people don't understand the security a child derives from having complete confidence in their Daddy's love for them and, even more, for Mama.
Thank you,
Gwen (Williams) Behrends

Beth Impson said...

So glad you visited and found some encouragement, Gwen. It wasn't until just a few years ago that I even *really* realized my daddy was mortal -- some part of me believed he would always be with me! May the Lord bless you as you continue to grieve for your mom and face that inevitability of losing others that you love.

Beth (Maribeth)

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