after our road trip from the Cape...
I was to give Dad's eulogy.
After so many wonderful, heartfelt stories shared by my brothers, nephews and nieces, friends. My brother, Rob in his kilt, offering a kind of timeline of Dad's life adventures. Dave, laughing and weeping at the pulpit telling a travels with Dad story I'd never heard before. Pete had O Happy Day by the Edwin Hawkins Gospel Choir cued up at the end of his story. The Church of the Mountain filled with music, people swaying.
O Happy Day! Dad loved that song.
When it came my turn to speak, I fumbled so much with my glasses, one arm snapped off, rendering them useless, unless I wore them cockeyed on my nose.
I can't remember having anything written down, maybe a list of ideas?
I'm good at speaking from the heart, words usually come easily.
But my throat stuck.
The pews were a blur of kind faces.
I didn't say how he took us backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, or across the ocean to Scotland. I forgot to tell about the time Dad and I went out on our tiny sunfish sailboat in Little Neck Bay and got caught up in a rough storm, the two of us shouting over the thunder at each other, We're fine, we're fine, he kept saying, as we made our way back in and the storm calmed.
Broken glasses in hand, and so many friends and family listening intently, I didn't tell about his love of ice cream. He and I would stand in the kitchen digging for the pecans in the carton of Butter Pecan. Did I tell about his writing and love of books, so many books, his penchant for hats and colorful clothes? I honestly don't have a clue what I said that day. He was a peaceful man.
Dad would say, You're beautiful. It was beautiful. I'm so grateful for all of you.
I left out his way with an autoharp, me and my brothers singing in the living room. I left out his singing voice. Clear and booming.
The car ride from Cape Cod with me and Dad and Claire took six hours, most of it filled with singing as we sped through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York State. On 84 East through the Pennsylvania landscape, we sang Won't You Stay in my Red River Valley, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, and then Claire burst in from the back seat with Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood.
Dad made himself (+ me and Claire) giddy with his radio announcer voice,
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sister Claire says Jesus Take the Wheel, why not?! Welcome to the Gospel Hour. Send in your requests, and offerings. Yes, we accept donations to keep this fine show on the road. Checks, money orders, Jesus loves you.
How fun would it be to have your own radio show?
But we did have it.
Right there in the car on the highway.
We opened our mouths and sang for miles.
Thanks for the singing, Dad.
You Are My Sunshine 🌞
In Memory of Sunny Ellsworth Erskine Jackson, Jr.
July 5, 1926 - November 6, 2015