In honor of my father...Larry E. Dickson...I've decided to post the eulogy I wrote for him back in January of this year. Dad passed on January 1 2021 and unbeknownst to me...I've now joined the "knowing what it's like group" of you who've also lost your father.
I knew for a long time that I'd wanted to write a eulogy...but it took me months to figure out how to do that. Dad passed from Parkinsons so his passing wasn't sudden...but rather a long...unkind...struggle. It sucks watching someone you love deteriorate physically and mentally...but I've very grateful that I lived close by and was able to share many moments with him in his final days. All the while working through my own struggles with the parts of Dad's life I wasn't fond of.
Fortunately...throughout this process I realized that this was Dad's struggle with life...not mine. His battles were not mine to judge or resist or change or to pick up as my own...but rather...let the struggle be.
Suffering sucks. And the experience of watching another suffer when you can't do anything to change it...sucks more! But yet...I found some reassurance that (after 10 months of facility isolation from covid...and due to the mere fact that hospice was involved at this point...I was allowed (mom and I both were) into his care facility wearing an N-95 mask and gown) to be near him...just to be present...somehow brought some calm or support to relieve the struggle somewhat. The reality here to was that for myself...the opportunity to say my goodbyes...to be present with Dad...was a pretty big deal. I was one of the lucky ones...because too many people lost loves ones just a few months prior due to covid and weren't allowed to be at the bedside. I considered myself very fortunate at this point.
Back to the eulogy. These last days really helped me understand the value of focusing on the good...and allowing for the human side of living...and letting go of the bad.
Here's what I said at dad's funeral service:
Rachel...Larry and Norma’s youngest daughter. I’m going to say a
few words and anyone who would
also like to share your thoughts and memories with us that you may
hold in your heart about Dad is
welcome and encouraged so please do so. In fact...I’d love to hear
what any of you would be willing to
We all know how
perplexed and entangled the past 10 months have been because of the
intricacies that the coronavirus
dumped on each of our doorsteps. But one thing I know to be
true...this global and very localized
challenge has forced us to recognize and reaffirm what matters to
each and every one of us most deeply.
I recognize that our
family isn’t the only one here who has experienced grief and loss.
And I am so very grateful that
you chose to come together and join us at this time and show resolve
to share your heart with us as we
do the same with you.
I also want to thank
you all for choosing to come to be with us today. Those of you who
are members of Shiloh
church....I commend you...for showing such compassion for dad and for
mom for the past many years...helping
mom & dad move from the farm into Wauseon...mowing their
grass....and helping with
countless other things. Many of you know in recent years the
challenges and struggles and difficulties
that dad and mom both endured.
But I don’t want
to focus on the times of difficulty that many of us are all too
familiar with. What I’d rather do here is to
share some stories...shine some light on the humor that dad so often
cracked us up with when we least
expected it. And also share with you some of the many life-lessons
dad taught me.
Probably the easiest
way to sum up the 48 years I’ve been around dad would be by
choosing words that I believe best
described Larry Evans Dickson.
impose his views
Mine of Information
I could illustrate
these words in one story. The time that a tornado ripped through the
middle of the yard at the farm
house in 1980. As you know...when tornadoes are brewing...the sky
gets very dark and the air gets very
weird. My sister and I and a friend had just come indoors from
playing outside because it was
obviously unsafe for us to stay outside as evidenced by the building
storm. Dad and Mom were both home.
All of us but Dad were sitting in the living room...I think dad was
going window to window in
anticipation of what might be coming. Then suddenly a very loud and
intensewind... burst forth outside... the front door of the house
blew wide open and we could see nothing but debris and dirt and
what looked like a sandstorm rushing by. Dad yells at the top of his
lungs “HIT THE DECK” (which
means get in the basement in Dicksoneeze). Everyone but dad followed
his own command. Next we’re
all huddled in the basement and hearing no good sounds coming from
I’m thinking to
myself...where’s Dad? He’s going to get sucked up into the abyss!
Of course that didn’t happen. But after
this whole ordeal...which obviously we all survived...we came to
learn that dad was basically front and
center like he always chose to be...confident...yet also very
It was through
experiences like this with dad that I learned to lean into his
confidence...his charge to the front attitude...I
never doubted dad would always choose to be front and center...so
confident in himself...yet
seemingly never taking into consideration any potential dangers on
his own behalf...because he
always wanted to be right up front no matter the crisis...first to
report what happened there. That
was dad. It was as if this all came very natural to him like it was
part of his DNA.
One windy day...I
decided I wanted to figure out how to build and fly a kite. Problem
was...I had no idea where to begin.
I think I was maybe 11 or 12 years old. Dad’s knowledge of how
things work mechanically and
electronically was astounding to me. He taught me that it was good to
In fact, he
encouraged my asking questions because he wanted me to understand the
“whys” behind how a thing worked.
So naturally....I told him my idea. To my utter surprise and
amazement he began to gather items to
build and fly this kite. He used a flexible bicycle flag antenna for
the cross pieces...plastic for
the body...and then meticulously explained to me the importance of a
kites tail and how it functions and
why this part was so important....he tore up pieces of an old bed
sheet ...knotting strips together into
a string like tail. I was very moved by how seriously he took my
little project and how willing he was
to make this happen. After he found a spool of nylon rope...all that
was left was to fly it. Best kite
flying experience I ever had! That kite went higher into the sky than
I ever thought imaginable.
Witty and Clown
Dad liked to tell
jokes. I hope you got to have the experience of watching dad crack
himself up as he told his corny
jokes. The most recent one I can remember him telling went like this.
Two snakes were
walking through the woods. (yes ...i told him as he was telling me
this...that’s pretty funny already dad
because snakes don’t walk...he chuckled)...and after one of them
tripped and fell asked the
other...”Are we poisonous?” to which the other replied
“yes...why?” “well the first snake said...I just bit my
Advocate and Fair
Dad loved to shop at
Big Lots. Back when there used to be a Big Lots in Wauseon...dad went
there to make a return for
something he purchased one day. Everything went per usual until the
next morning he called the bank
to check on recent debits and credits (this of course was back when
to get information on your
banking you had to call the bank and listen to an automated recording
for each of your
transactions)....here’s what he heard.
++++Played the actual audio
Big Lots of wauseon
had mistakenly credited him two hundred thirty-five thousand...four
hundred and forty eight dollars
into his account. He recorded this audio to prove to people that this
actually happened...and then
took great joy in playing it for anyone and everyone that would
listen. Maybe it could be said that
dad had something to do with Big Lots of wauseon closing...but
regardless...he contacted them right
away to ensure they got it all straightened out and they got their
money back. He was always honest if
things like this happened...which for some reason goofy things like
this happened to dad. And he was
always an advocate for Big Lots!!!
Dad wasn’t only an
advocate for Big Lots but also for the usefulness of computers. He
absolutely loved finding ways
to utilize a computer to make his or anyone else's life a little bit
easier. I’m pretty sure sometimes this
made mom crazy...like how he figured out how to program the computer
to control all the lights in
the house. Turning on and off at certain times on their own. ...But
he saw this as essential for making
life easier...even though much of the time it made life a little more
complicated for mom.
Another time when I
was living in Tennessee and working for a whitewater rafting company
I had been given the role of
marketing director. Every day the Gatlinburg chamber of commerce
would send us pages of addresses
for those who had requested information regarding whitewater rafting.
Up until this point those pages
were simply converted to printed labels and brochures were mailed to
them. I got to thinking ...why
couldn’t we capture these names and addresses into a file and
market to them more than once? Problem
was...the format wasn’t usable. So... I called dad. I explained the
situation to dad and before I knew it he
was sending me a little program to use that he wrote...that would put
these addresses into
usable fields to capture for future use. This was dad’s
vision...and genius when it came to utilizing
Rarely when dad was
working on something, RARELY, did the repair or fix go smoothly or as
planned. Yet dad was
brilliant at navigating these challenges persistently with creative
solutions. It had to be done. It had to be
fixed. It had to work. It had to be figured out. Dad’s relentless
persistence to complete a task...to
reach the end was often inexhaustible. He had a confidence in his
problem solving abilities that
fueled his persistence to find a workable solution. Yet he also had a
humor about him during these times
as well because often he’d set himself up with his pile of tools or
pile of screws or pile of whatever to
fall and crash making a momentous drama moment. I got to where I
could see these things coming and
after trying to prevent it time & time again...I would just watch
this unfold...and in doing so learned
that (I think) this was another way for him to express his
melodrama...all the while...laughing
about it after the fact.
Many of you are
aware...dad liked to talk on the phone. An unwritten Dickson rule
was...that if the phone rang...it MUST
be answered by the 3 rd ring...because ALL phone calls were that
important. He also absolutely
loved calling friends and family to talk on the phone. I think this
was one of his obsessions...yet he
loved talking to people. He always had a story to share or some
wisdom to impart.
No doubt there are
many many other stories that could be told about Larry Dickson...and
I hope some of you share some
more today with us.
I also hope that
I’ve served dad’s memory well here today. He taught me so very
much. Some good...some
not-so-good...but I can only hope to have a small piece of the vast
mine of information dad maintained. But he
is much better off now...in a place of peace. I can rest assured that
he has finally found his peace. It
takes all of it...the good and the not-so-good to live a life. Rest
assured dad...that I know...it is well.
Dad was laid to rest not far from the farm property that he and Mom raised both my sister and I.