Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Eulogy for Ray

Lauren's father passed away last week on December 17th. His funeral was Friday December 21st.

I was honored to give the eulogy, which is what follows.

Whenever I needed to describe my father-in-law. I always used the word simple.

The word simple , when describing someone, always carries a bad connotation. Most people do not want to be considered simple. They want to be complicated. They want to be considered a person of depth and knowledge and of complex thoughts.

Ray was not complicated. Ray was simple. He was simple in his devotion to his wife and children. He was simple in his pleasures and joys. He was simple in his faith.

He led his life according to the simplest of rules. The Golden Rule. There are people in this world of great depth and complex thoughts who cannot, no matter how hard they try, understand the Golden Rule.

The Golden rule. Treat others, as you would want to be treated. Ray lived that way.

Simple to do? I don’t think so.

Ray only loved one woman in his entire life, they got married and had children. Simple.

Ray worked hard for most of his life, two or three jobs at a time, just to provide for his family. From what I could tell he never really wanted anything for himself. He found satisfaction in his work. But he worked to provide for his family. Simple. Even after his daughters were grown and able to provide for themselves he continued to support them in other ways. Changing oil on their cars, helping them with home projects or just offering moral support. Simple.

He found pleasure in spending time with his grandkids, fishing, building birdhouses, gardening and yard work.

This past summer, when he started his Chemo I offered to help and mow his yard. He refused. He enjoyed working on the yard and found satisfaction in doing the job. After a few weeks of me offering, he finally conceded.

He took the time to explain to me how his old rider mower worked. He tinkered with it for so many years that the mower had its own little quirks and he explained that he wanted me to be safe. He made sure I knew every nuance of the machine. He then got on the mower to show me how it worked. How it bucked in 2nd gear, how the blade mechanism could get stuck and how to maneuver around the obstacles in the yard. He showed me for so long that by the time he was done teaching me, he mowed the back yard himself.

He told me was concerned for my safety.

Who am I kidding I sure he was worried I would break the mower.

He found joy in just talking to people. Ray always greeted every one with his big toothy smile; his eyes would disappear into slits. You knew he was genuinely happy to see you. He never offered his opinion or advice unless asked. He was a quiet man but he enjoyed listening. He just enjoyed the conversation. Simple.

I consider myself lucky because I think that Lauren inherited that smile. She said to me the other day, “I can’t believe how much I look like my father.” I looked at her and I agreed. Which means one of two things. My wife would make a very handsome man, or that Ray would have made one really attractive woman.

He was simple in his faith in God. He believed. He never forced his beliefs on other people. He never got into huge philosophical debates about the meaning of life.

I remember one time after a spirited conversation about what church can offer, he said, “I don’t need to hear other peoples opinions on this, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and I just know I am in good hands.” Simple faith.

There were many times I heard Emily say that Ray could fall asleep anywhere. His response to her was always the same. “What can I say? I have a clean conscience.”

I truly believe that he did. He was just that good of a person. Simple.

Ray was the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He would also tell you about where he bought it, when he bought it, what function he wore it to and that he would look for the receipt so that you could return it if you wanted to.

Ray did have some faults, which I want to cover.

He was Caring to a fault.
He was nice to a fault.
He was generous to a fault.
He was friendly to a fault.
…And he liked polka music.

I wish I had those faults. Except for the polka music.

Shame on me for pointing out his faults, because one of the most admirable qualities I see in Ray is the fact that he never, ever, pointed out anyone else’s faults. He lived his life by the Golden Rule. And I know that a lot of people sold Ray short and judged him for being Simple, but Ray Simply never judged anyone.

Anybody I have ever talked to about Ray always said the same thing,
“He was the nicest man in the world.”

It sucks that that space is now vacant.

Ray’s birthday is December 30th. In a little over a week he would have been 70. I like to think that his birthday has now changed to December 17th. The day he died. He is now celebrating a new life, in heaven.

In an effort to move to past the sadness of his death and the mourning that comes with losing him I want to be the first to say, and I can’t think of any other way to say it but to put it simply:

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday.


Patience said...

My sincere condolences to your family. A beautiful eulogy for a beautiful man!

I know it is difficult to lose a dear one during the holidays. I lost my mother several years ago during Christmas. I cannot say this hasn't darkened the holidays, but time has softened the grief. Now, during this season, I remember her life more than her death.

My best to you all. May you find peace.

~ Patience ~

Anonymous said...

Oh, Bill. I came to say a quick, "Merry Christmas." I had no idea. What a fine man you describe here. I can't really imagine better. Lauren comes from good stock, but we knew that. You did him proud, here. Please give Lauren an extra hug from me.

Anonymous said...

What a touching tribute. I'm so sorry to hear about Lauren's dad. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Ern said...

A beautiful tribute. Peace to you and your family at a difficult time.

theotherbear said...

What a very touching eulogy. Beautifully said.

Cheryl said...

What a beautifully written eulogy. It sheds a lot of light on the kind of person your wife is. I wonder what that simple man thinks of the Christmas celebration in heaven?

ToadyJoe said...

So sorry you've experienced the loss of such a great man (and beloved family member). My heart goes out to you all.

eclectic said...

I'm so sorry to hear of Ray's passing, but really touched to read of his life and the way he lived it.

Please give Lauren extra hugs for me. Losing your dad is amazingly painful, and leaves a huge empty hole. For me, it helped that my husband had known and loved my dad -- he helps me remember things I would otherwise maybe not have noticed. Sort of like your lawn mower story. I hope your memories will help Lauren.

Love and peace to your whole family, Bill.

mrtl said...

What a great eulogy! I'm so sorry for your loss. Hugs to Lauren.

Chris H said...

My condolences on the loss of your father in law. Beautiful words for a beautiful man, well done.

Idaho Dad said...

Sounds like he's the kind of man we need more of in this world.

I wish I could've known him. My own father and my father-in-law are the complete opposite. You're lucky to have had him in your life.

Lisa said...

Very sweet post. My condolences.

Teri said...

Happy Birthday to Lauren's dad.

He sounds like a wonderful man and I'm glad you knew him.

I'm sorry for the family's loss but it's better that everyone got a chance to know him and to celebrate his life.

The Woman Undone said...

WOW...sounds like such a hard loss. Simply a wonderful eulogy.

Meegs said...

Love and healing to you and your family. It sounds like you lost a wonderful man. But your eulogy was an amazing tribute and I hope it brings you comfort.

Steve said...

That was sweet. Good choice in having you deliver the eulogy. My best to Lauren.

31 and Tired!! said...

That was beautiful. Truly sorry for the family's loss. The end of it really helped me ,this is my first Christmas without my mom. I lost her in march and she was only 46. Your wife will most likely never forget how your kind words helped her through such a very hard day. Good Job!

Amber said...

I am sorry for you loss, but after reading your eulogy, it sounds as though it is Heavens gain.

Your family is in my prayers. There is a great book for children called, "Heaven Has a Floor". It is a wonderful resource for kids who have lost loved ones.

As for the eulogy, simply wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Such lovely words to pay tribute to your father in law and the way he lived his life.
It always matters what we say and what we do. People remember.
Simply being a solid kind and loving person is a a wonderful way to be remembered.
And you are right. Very few people do it well.

Anonymous said...

Knowing Ray, you described him perfectly! A genuine gentleman! I am so proud of you, Bill! Wonderful testament! These are sad times, but joyous for the angels! They get to celebrate 2 birthdays this season! Love you and hurt with you! Bless you all! Momo9

MrsDoF said...

I also know how hard it is to lose a loved one when all around us are glittery sights for the Season.

My condolences for your family's loss.
Such a nice eulogy--you have a way with words.


bew said...

Happy Birthday, Ray.

Anonymous said...


I was proud of you giving that Eulogy. You have a beautiful extended family that our family will continue to pray for. I hope that your sons get some of Rays' simple traits.

OhTheJoys said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Please be extra sweet to Lauren - not just now, but for months to come. The grief just keeps coming like waves rolling in. One day you think you're fine and the next day the sadness is back, acute as ever.
Much love to you and yours,

Michelle said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Ray sounds like he was an extraordinarily, simply wonderful man. The world is clearly missing a special person who's void will never be filled.

Creative-Type Dad said...

Very sorry for your loss.
What a great eulogy.

Anonymous said...

I think we need more people like your father in law in this world.
That was a beautiful tribute, William, and I can't help thinking, no doubt he was proud to call you his son as well. My condolences to Lauren and family.

Anonymous said...

Oh Bill, I'm so sorry to hear your news. Your eulogy was beautiful and I'm sure it will be something that Lauren and her family will remember for years to come. It must be tough to have Christmas going on regrdless of how you're all feeling but I hope that you and the family managed to have some good times together.

Anonymous said...


I understand perfectly your description of your father-in-law..I describe my father in the exact same way to people, and they look at me like I'm a little weird. I love that my dad is simple,and I strive to be more like him everyday.

Happy Birthday to Ray.


Alpha Dude said...

That was absolutely beautiful.

You have encouraged and inspired me today.

When I grow up, I want to be like Ray.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. My condolences.

Nilbo said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss, but so glad you were called on to speak so eloquently and touchingly about a fine man. We should all be so simple ...

Anonymous said...

i cried. for lauren, for you, and for the rest of us on this earth that won't see ray until we meet again in heaven. blessings to you all during this holiday season.

sari said...

I'm sorry to hear this. My grandmother also passed away on the 17th. It makes the holidays a sadder time but being with family helps. Your eulogy was wonderful. I send my best wishes to your wife and you.

Unknown said...

I am so so very sorry for your loss. This is a terrific eulogy, William. Ya done good.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bill, for doing what the rest of us could not do... and for doing such a good job. Dad would've been so proud!

Thanks to all of our blogger friends for your words of sympathy and support. My dad was truly a beautiful spirit that we could all learn a lot from, even in all his simplicity. He will be greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of your loss and what a beautiful eulogy... condolences to your family and esp Lauren.

Jason Roth said...

Very well done. Sorry for your loss.

Unknown said...

You? Not a writer? As if. Great job, Bill, and I'm so very sorry for you and especially Lauren. I lost my dad a few years ago at Christmas and it is sad, but you have wonderful memories and he is certainly celebrating his new life in Heaven.

Anonymous said...

That is exactly who he was...and he loved you too. Thank you Bill-your sister-in-law, Lisa

Sudiegirl said...

That's a beautiful eulogy.


I pray for peace in your family's hearts as you start the new year.

Denise B. said...

that has to be the most beautiful eulogy I've ever seen. I have to go blow my nose and wipe my eyes now, although in the reverse order.