Father’s Day is next weekend, the 19th. In the past that meant going to one of Dad’s favorite restaurants – Outback Steakhouse or Red, Hot & Blue. On Saturday I’d pick up something amusing for him – like lottery scratch-off tickets (always a big hit) or maybe a DVD of some TV show he’d just discovered – like Everybody Loves Raymond. (I don’t know why, but both sets of parents seem to discover TV shows a decade after they’re over.)

To me, family events like this always seem a bit of a chore. Not that I don’t enjoy my family. I’m just selfish and don’t like giving up any of my weekend for something I’m “supposed” to do. Plus, I’m not a great gift giver. I’ve NEVER known what to give people. I also never enjoyed trying to get two boys and a husband out the door in time to meet people half way across the metroplex for lunch – or dinner. (For some reason this is reversed in my house. Men are never waiting on me. I wait on them.) Really, that part alone was such a beating it just didn’t seem worth the effort to even take them along. Lord knows I threatened to drive off without them enough.

Last year, as usual, we had lunch with Dad and my stepmother, my brother and sister-in-law. During the meal, Dad went off on some crazy tangent about how the 50s were the best decade of them all, and why. Then, he moved on to bowling and everything he’d learned about it since he started working on the Bowling Museum. (Both discussions were actually connected, although bowling is NOT what made the 50s great.) After lunch we went our separate ways to await the next holiday that would bring us together. As we drove home with a sense of accomplishment, I sighed, relieved to be on the way back to the house for my other weekend chores.

Dad passed away unexpectedly in July. That makes this upcoming Father’s Day the first that I don’t have to wrangle people into the car or freak out about being late, get annoyed with Dad for repeating the same story I’ve heard a thousand times, OR for asking me (again), “You still haven’t seen Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo? Funniest movie EVER.” I also don’t have to stress over what gift to buy. His scratch-off lottery tickets are with him.

A word of advice: Spend time with the people you love. Don’t just squeeze it in.

Losing a parent is losing a part of yourself. Your history goes too. Who else can say “I remember when you were 4 years old and so afraid of the dark we had to sit in your room until you fell asleep.” Or from MY dad it’s more like, “Remember when you were 8 and I used to pants you in the grocery store?”

You miss those stories once they’re gone. But mostly you miss the person who told them. Turns out, you can even work up some serious nostalgia for being pantsed in the grocery store.

This year, I know a few things I never really knew before:
1. There will never be another individual in my life who finds no real fault with me, despite proof to the contrary.
2. Father’s Day is not a chore.
3. For the rest of my life, I’ll be watching Deuce Bigalow on Father’s Day.



Due to the passing of a friend of mine last summer, and my father (unexpectedly – the day BEFORE my friend) I have been thinking about funerals. Not obsessively or anything, just in passing. (Oops, no pun intended.)

I have attended fewer than a dozen funerals in my life, and frankly, they have been pretty much what you would expect. Pretty solemn. Rarely, someone who knew the departed would speak and elicit a little “acceptable” audience laughter.

My father’s service in late July changed my funeral paradigm. I wanted to speak, but my brain was not functioning. I have a whole new respect for family members who speak at funerals. There was not enough Valium in the world to get me through that experience.

Thankfully, friends of my father performed the eulogy. There were three speakers, all of whom were close to him and able to share fond memories. However, one individual in particular went above and beyond. Briggs grew up with dad in Maysville, Oklahoma and attended OU with him. He appreciated dad as a friend, an artist and a non-linear thinker. He was a gold mine. The man knew almost every embarrassing/hilarious story involving my father and was perfectly willing to share each of them with us. In church!

It was fantastic. Briggs was sometimes emotional while speaking, but fought his way through and delivered one story after another – zinger after zinger. I sat in the front row with my family, alternately wiping away tears and laughing so hard I thought I would fall off the pew. I cast a few nervous glances at the poor, unsuspecting minister, afraid he would walk out, and half hoping he would because Briggs was obviously editing out some good parts.

My friend’s funeral that afternoon was similar. Several speakers, all of whom knew her well and were able to tell stories that brought an amazing mixture of laughter and tears – an incredible gift – just when you thought you would never laugh freely again. It was such a relief to have a similar “vibe” to both services. That day we all agreed – family and friends – if we didn’t keep laughing, we would never stop crying.

If you don’t have a friend who can do this type of eulogy at your service, get some new friends. PAY someone. Hire them. Do whatever it takes. It is a tragedy to sit through a service that feels like one-size-fits-all.

How lucky my father was. And Leah. We should all be so blessed in our friends.

So, who’s doing your eulogy?

Here’s a link to some of Bill Rogers’ art work. (Gallery.)

Side note: I have Briggs’ typed and hand edited eulogy from the service and will treasure it. The stories he couldn’t tell, the paragraphs he crossed out, the words he highlighted as inappropriate for the venue. (Thank goodness.) Even a few sentences here and there directly addressed to my father. It’s the most hilariously inappropriate and yet heart-warming combination of emotions I have ever had the pleasure to read.