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A Tribute to my Father

My father, Dale, passed away in 2012. He was 42 when I was born, and he was 78 when he went to live Jesus. This is my tribute I wrote for his Memorial Service. Sharing it again helps me to continue to commemorate him; particularly on #FathersDay. My prayer for you, is that God gives you many rich days ahead with your own father or children as you celebrate life together.

Dale HuntGood Evening Everyone,

Thank you for coming to my Father’s Funeral.  This is a moment that I’ve thought about before – even this before past week…. But for some reason in my head, I’ve never been able to get past: the “Thank you for coming to my Father’s Funeral” part.  Perhaps, I never wanted to imagine what I’d actually say.  Perhaps, having it planned would’ve been just awkward.

At any rate, I’ve learned enough about myself to know that prior experiences continue to forge who I am still becoming.  And, I stand before you today, a man, a husband, a father, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, a colleague, a complete testimony to what Christ has done, and who he is in my life today – all because of how Christ was embodied at home from both of my parents.  And, today, we gather to specifically celebrate my father.

Today we are surrounded by the tangible evidence of my Dad’s deep love for God, love for others, servant heartedness, perseverance, and leadership given – all to see people changed by the power and love of God.  It is an honor to be known as his son, and to live in the shadow of his humility.

This entire season really is bittersweet.  Bitter, in that Dad is now gone.  Absent from our family gatherings; and all that remains are photographs and memories.  Bitter, in that he is absent from Kristen’s house where he had been living for the past 2 ½ years.  Bitter, in that his Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren will have limited, or no memories of his presence.

YET, incredibly sweet, in that the Blessed Hope shared by Christ’s church is now tangibly realized for my Dad.  No longer does he have to be on Kidney Dialysis.  His walker: useless.  His Diabetes: healed.  His pacemaker: obsolete.  The void created by being separated from his wife, and his Lord: over!  His entire body and spirit, now given “the glorious freedom from death and decay” – a promise fulfilled by Christ’s sacrifice as described in Paul’s eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans.

I share this hopeful promise of God, not in ignorance, but because of truth personally revealed to me by the life of Jesus, and his story woven throughout the Bible.  And, I also share it with you, as I was introduced to God’s word through my Dad.  Whether that was at Sunday School, or Family Camp, Church, or the most dreaded time of all for me – on Saturday mornings.  Yes, every Saturday morning, when I woke up earlier than I ever would on a school day because there were incredibly important cartoons to be watched.  And, (in the moment) to my disappointment I would find Dad laying prostrate in prayer and scripture reading right in the middle of the family room floor. (Ugghhhh.)  Of course, I also can’t forget about every Christmas, when we were outlawed to open presents until Dad had finished reading the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2.

Oh, how hindsight is now 20/20.

Last Thursday, on the last night of my Dad’s earthly life, I was given the privilege of being able to read Scripture to him while he struggled to find physical rest and comfort.  After reading Psalms 22 & 23 over him, I asked him where he wanted me to read from, to which he said, “Daniel.”

Where do you want me to start Dad?  “From the beginning.”

After I read through Chapter two of Daniel, he said, “that’s a neat story.”  Then, he asked me to read from Proverbs.  And my questions about where to start were answered the same way.  “Start from the beginning.”

My Dad loved God’s word. That’s why I chose Colossians 3:16 as a scripture printed on his obituary program; because it sums up my Dad’s love for God, His word, and the wisdom realized in it.  And, I’ll read it for you now to meditate on as you think about my Dad.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.  Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

The people who I have had the privilege of leading in worship gatherings to this day, and more many to come I know, have my Dad to thank for how the message about Christ, in all it’s richness, truly filled his life, and how he modeled that for me.  My Dad celebrated this by how he lived, by how he loved, by how he worshipped, and by how he gave.

And, It’s my hope that my own life would be known in similar ways, because of his example.  I know that I already do, or esteem to channel much of who he was… especially in his stubbornness, which I’d love to say I don’t struggle with, but know that I couldn’t say that because I’d be quickly corrected from my wife and my siblings.

I esteem to be like my Dad especially in that quirky smile, in that glimmer of his eye when mischief that he initiated was abounding.  He never had to say a word, his calm presence, side slanted eyes and tight-lipped smile said it all.

I esteem to be like my Dad especially in his work-ethic, and craftsmanship.  I do not know a person to this day, who would know how to calculate trigonometry on napkins (without a college education mind you) during dinner, or shave an 1/8th of a centimeter of metal off of a machine part, or build an insulated dog-house that will more than likely stand well past Armageddon I imagine.

I esteem to be like my Dad especially in his creative solutions for projects, as well as for life.  I have often questioned the logic of why he would own a back-hoe to be used at our old house.  We weren’t in the construction business.  But, now after owning a home with just a city corner-lot sidewalk to deal with in a heavy MN winter, I completely understand why he would have one, if for nothing else but to remove snow on our former 3-acre property back in the woods.

I esteem to be like my Dad especially in his wisdom.  After my freshman year of college, he and mom knew I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t in a good place.  So, he offered to pay to have all my things moved back to MN, from 2 states away in the summer of 1995 – even when I had already set in my mind I was going to put everything in storage and return there for my sophomore year.  To top it off, in my arrogance, I said to his face, “well Dad, it’s your money.”  And, in his humility, he kindly said with a smile, “I’ve rented a truck, let’s pack up.”  Needless to say, I wasn’t home a week before I decided to transfer to North Central in Minneapolis.  He knew…

I esteem to be like my Dad, especially in his faithful love for his wife and family.  When my mother passed away in January 2010, they were in their 54th year of marriage.  And, even on their difficult days, I know Dad loved his wife dearly.  Even amid both of their imperfections, their marriage was God-honoring by their commitment to each other.  Definitely, a high standard set insulting today’s casual approach, and political debate, on the covenant of marriage.  My Dad also modeled father-hood and unconditional love for his 5 children, their spouses, his 17 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

And, while I fully anticipated that my wife’s deep embedded love for the Packers would’ve polarized their relationship – it actually did nothing but bring them closer together.  And, When Farve came over to MN, my dad purchased official Vikings logoed purple sweatshirt and matching ball-hat just for Morlie.  She proudly wears it to this day.

Finally, I esteem to be like my Dad especially in his generosity.

I remember full well when this very church building was more of a concrete compound than it is now – when there was no carpeting at all.  There was a diagram down over on this side of the floor sectioned off with various squares.  I remember Pastor Yetley asking who wanted to commit to purchasing various square footages of carpet.  And, I remember when Dad committed to have his name signed on a certain number of those squares.

I remember when he would open our home to various family, church groups, my high school and college friends, and other guests with open arms, and no questions asked or favors expected in return.

I remember when my Dad said to me in high school, wherever you are, whatever time it is, I will pick you up.  You just need to call.

And, while much of the influence of Dad’s monetary generosity changed after 1998, it cannot be argued about how his desire to give was so evident. I nearly cried this summer over Fathers Day weekend, when I saw him pull out of his pocket cash ready to go, just so he could buy 3 of his grandsons ice-cream from the ice-cream truck that frequents our block in South Minneapolis.  Dad, you’ll never know how much those sponge-bob shaped ice cream bars mean to my little guys.  And, thanks for coming down to the big city, getting some pictures taken with the boys and I, and spend an evening on Snelling Avenue watching old classic cars drive by.  Thanks Morlie for encouraging me to have the pictures be just Dad, the boys, and I.  This was a gift, we’ll never forget.Fathers Day 2012

Thanks Kristen & Gary for being such a gift to our family. Your care for our Dad during the last two years is absolutely invaluable.  This is a bittersweet day, not just for the family of his blood-line, but also of those he openly adopted.  We grieve with you, and we all journey together.  You are a part of us.

To my Daddy:
I love you.  I’ll miss you.  Thanks for investing your entire life to see me grow in my love for God, and to become a great husband and father, and a steward of the calling God gave to me.  I’m so glad you’re with Jesus, and with Mom.  I know she’s been waiting for you patiently – as she always did here on earth too.  I’d appreciate it if you’d hug both of them for me.

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