On the one year anniversary of my father passing.
We lost my dad one year ago, today. It wasn’t entirely a surprise; he’d had a bad cardiac event about a year before, so we knew his time was borrowed. It didn’t make losing him any easier, but at least we knew it was coming, more or less.
I was blessed with the opportunity to eulogize him, along with my brother and my niece. The remainder of today’s post is my eulogy, or at least the notes I made before giving it.
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If you knew that you had, more or less, one year left to live, what would you do?
There are all kinds of pat answer to that question, usually having to do with things that have been left undone, or unfulfilled desires. I have my father’s answers to the question, but to understand those answers, I need to back up a little bit.
To William Corum, there were two kinds of Sunday; there were the Sundays that you felt like going to Church, where you put everything else aside to go to Church and praise God, and then there were the Sundays that you didn’t feel like going to Church, were you STILL put everything else aside to go to Church and praise God.
From the iconic display of the elements of the Lord’s Prayer that always hung in our home to the diligent usage of the common table prayer before every meal, our home was touched by my father’s devout faith. My dad would sing at the drop of a hat, and more often than not, the song was a song of praise – a favorite hymn or choral tune, sometimes a rousing spiritual. When Dad threw himself into “Joshua Fought The Battle Down At Jericho,” you had no problems imagining the walls tumbling down.
Even in the days when my folks were “between” church homes, the unending praise of the triune God was a part of my father’s daily life.
Now, ever since Dad’s cardiac incident last year, he’s been on a very restrictive diet; one that he was careful to adhere to. Between having to be careful of his diabetes and his renal health, the list of restrictions on what Dad could eat was pretty extensive. Add to that his unfortunate allergy to capsicum, the chemical that gives chillies and peppers of all kinds their burn, and you had to imagine that whatever dad was left with would be pretty bland fare.
My dad taught me my love for biscuits and gravy, sushi, nachos, and unusual and robust foods of all kinds. Thanks, Dad. It was kind of painful to hear about all of the diet restrictions and know that so many of his favorite foods were beyond him. He didn’t elect to see it that way, though.
My dad wrote recipes – heck, he wrote cookbooks. He took the ingredients available to him and with research and experimentation, found ways to make the foods he was left with into delicious and satisfying meals. He made meals that were safe and nutritious for anyone suffering the restrictions applied by diabetes and renal disease, and he left those recipes behind with the intent that, properly tested, they could be shared.
Dad was like that, you see.
There was a good long period of my life, mostly just after our move to St. Louis, where I didn’t have many friends. Go figure, I was the odd duck who didn’t fit in very well. When I started to acquire a small group of friends, they would find their way over to my house at one point or another. Whether we were conquering the world with the massive computing power of my commodore sixty-four or playing role-playing games in the basement, my friends were made to feel welcome. They were greeted with smiles and warmth, often fed, occasionally taken out to dinner, and treated not like my gaming buddies but like my brothers and sisters. No matter how odd or “unique” my companions were, they were family.
I’ve asked my wife more than once if she just married me for the access to my warm and gracious family and the cool last name. She assures me there are other reasons; go figure.
Of course, I have a truly wonderful example to follow when it comes to my married life. My mom and dad were married for fifty-five years. You know, let me say that again – they were married for fifty… five… years.
Mom and Dad were a team; occasionally an argumentative and frustrated team, but a solid team nonetheless. And no matter what they disagreed on, no matter how frustrated they became with one another, there were a few things that my parents simply didn’t disagree on.
My mom and dad love each other very much; my mom is a wonderful and beautiful woman, and my dad was lucky to have her. Well, ok, my mom doesn’t always see herself that way, but my dad always did. I know that because he told her that, in many ways, all the time.
He still does, actually. Over this very difficult past week, as we’ve been putting my father’s possessions and affairs in order, we keep finding notes. Little things, jotted down randomly on three by five index cards; notes about the role of faith in his life, notes about family, and notes about how very much he has always loved my mother.
All of these notes left in places where, if you happen to be sorting through my father’s papers, you simply could not miss them.
That is SO my dad.
Ever since the cardiac incident last year, my dad knew that every day he was alive was a day borrowed from his Creator. Asked “how he was doing,” his response would be something like “oh, I’m doing all right, for a man in my condition.” He knew that, in a very short time, we’d all be sitting here, doing this.
So, what did William Thomas Corum the Third do, faced with the knowledge that time was short, and he had, maybe, about a year to live? He gave me, and all of us, some solid lessons on how to live your life right.
Thank God above for each new day, and praise Him for His infinite mercy and grace.
Try to improve your health and situation, every single day.
Try to improve the situation of others, every single day.
Treat people as friends; treat friends as family.
Never let a day go by without telling the important people in your life that you love them.
Never miss a chance to give a compliment to the people in your life; let everyone know how beautiful you find them; let everyone know how proud you are of them.
Pass on a little bit of what you know in some way, to some one.
Try to leave little surprises; find ways to create a much-needed smile and/or tear on the face of someone you love even when you yourself have passed on.
My father is at peace, immortal and in a state of grace unimaginable, in the presence of the God he praised with a strong and deep voice. He rests victorious in the loving arms of the creator.
At the same time, Bill Corum left a magnificent and enduring memorial here on Earth, practically a legend. A legend written not in epic battle or carved in stone, but warmly laid in the hearts and minds of friends and family, of colleagues and loved ones. A legend that becomes stronger and more enduring every time we treat someone right, with a sense of excellence and compassion, because that’s how Bill treated us.
You know… I didn’t have any comfortable black shoes to wear here, today. So, at my mom’s insistence, I’m wearing my dad’s shoes. I hope they fit, someday.
I love you, Dad.