Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bill's funeral

The funeral this morning was beautiful and honored Bill well - an old family friend officiated and several of Bill's college friends gave tributes. He would have been proud. Beau wrote a poem like his dad would have done, and Jessica spontaneously spoke from her heart. Matt spoke as well, and here is a copy of what he said:

I think the best way to honor my Dad is to share some memories of him. These aren’t full stories, but just snippets of my childhood. I remember my Dad...

  • Waking me up and watching the A-team and wrestling with me every Saturday when I was four years old
  • Going on early morning beach walks with Jessica and me before school (so I could lose enough weight to play defense in pee-wee football)
  • Buying Wrestlemania pay-per-view so I could invite over all my friends and their dads to watch
  • Wearing a magnetic earring to football practice to poke fun at my teammates that wore earrings
  • Convincing my childhood friends that he tried out for the Atlanta Falcons and knocked out a star player with his forearm flipper
  • Taking me on one-on-one trips to Shoney’s breakfast buffet before my football games, and letting me eat strawberry shortcake for breakfast
  • Taking us “camping”, which meant staying in a cabin and carrying our own TV, VCR, and movies to watch
  • Inviting me to snuggle up to him with my head on his arm to watch TV almost every night
  • Taking pride that every player on the teams he coached learned to contribute something on the field
  • Pioneering football plays as a coach like the classic “Between the Legs Pass”
  • Driving us to Stone Mountain in Atlanta in 3 hours flat to get Beau registered for a soccer tournament
  • Taking me fishing and being patient with me, even though I couldn’t leave my line still for 30 seconds and didn’t like to see the fish die in the bottom of the boat
  • Singing with the waiters at Alfonso’s Old Plantation Supper Club
  • Taking our whole team out for gatorade after practice, and taking players with us to Tech games every year
  • Never losing hope that this year was the "Year of the Jackets"
  • Dressing up in makeup and tights as Rick Flair, the wrestler, for Halloween
  • Spacing out in the middle of one of my stories, so that I had to say “Dad, what are you thinking about?”
  • Outlasting me in arm rolls and six inches in he was 45 and I was 15
  • Taking us hunting for ghost crabs when we lived at the Beach Club for a year
  • Writing life advice to me as a teenager that I should give away money to help people and not tell anyone that I did it
  • Taking us for almost nightly parfaits at TCBY for a year, where he faithfully ordered layers of nuts, vanilla, caramel, vanilla, nuts
  • Organizing an Olympics-style competition during rehab at Willingway
  • Apologizing and asking for forgiveness for the times he hurt me or let me down
  • Giving people jobs or a place to stay when they needed it to get their feet back on the ground
  • Telling me he loved me and was proud of me as long as I did my best
  • Telling me about his “God sales” – sales that he felt he didn’t work hard to earn but that God graciously provided out of the blue
  • Flying to Chicago to be there for me when my son Will was born, even though he was sick
  • Always picking up the check
  • Receiving his 9 year sobriety chip last December with me and my son Will in attendance

When I think about why I’m sad about my Dad passing away, it’s because I won’t have the chance to form new memories with him, and Will won’t have the chance to form his own memories with my Dad. But I saw first hand the transformation that God did in my Dad’s life, the fundamental shift that occurred in his spirit from self to God, from doing it on his own to relying on God’s love, and I know that I will see him again. But until I do, I hope that my son will know my Dad through me and Casey and Jessica and Beau, that my Dad’s legacy will shine through our lives. Here are a few lessons I learned from him:

  • All people are the same, black or white, rich or poor, right or wrong
  • It is hard work to take our eyes off of ourselves and care about other people, but it’s always worth it.
  • We can’t handle our lives on our own without trusting in God – we’ll screw it up trying
  • Make new friends but stay fiercely loyal to your old ones
  • Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong, ask forgiveness and accept it
  • Money is a tool that God gives us to use, not a means of keeping score or wielding power
  • And love is to be even more freely given away than money, never withheld on conditions, never bartered, never traded

We had this picture blown up on a canvas in front of the church today - he was SUCH a proud Granddaddy!

We had so many friends that got up this morning at 4 to drive here for the funeral today and to be here to support Matt (Jacob, Cobb, Mecall, Ryan, Lesley, Ben, Charlie, Craig, and our pastor in Atlanta, Chris Robins - THANK YOU). We have amazing friends.

Also, here is a tribute that Matt wrote about his dad last December when he got his 9 year sobriety chip.


Studio Refuge Photography Blog said...[Reply to comment]

We love you guys and continue to pray for you and your family. I did not realize a caravan was going down. Ryan was out of town for work.
Wished we could have been there with you guys. We are thankful for the hope we have in Christ to see loved ones again, Ryan's mom and Matt's dad and experience God's love and glory forever as they are now.

Fran Pierce said...[Reply to comment]

Thanks for sharing this...Matt always made his Dad proud,so was so true to character that he honor his Dad so boldly yesterday. What a wonderful husband you have! Will's a lucky
little boy!
Love, Mom

LLArcher said...[Reply to comment]

Matt & Miller-

Drew and I have been thinking about you guys and praying for you during this time. Matt's words were so special and a great way to share about his Dad. We will continue to keep you guys in our prayers!
Big Hugs,
Lindsey and Drew

Michael and Amber Vestal said...[Reply to comment]

I'm deeply blessed by your dad's story, and I'm very thankful you posted what you shared ... and the earlier post from last December, too.
We love you guys.

Michael and the Vestals

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