There is not much I can say in just these few minutes that can sum up what a wonderful person my father was. Each of you is here because he touched your life in some way and I am so grateful for your support today.
My father had a very youthful energy about him and he was always on the go. Many of my memories of him as a child are of me running behind him trying to catch up. He loved to have fun and was very spontaneous; if something sounded fun he just did it.
When I was a kid he took a large board that he had found and he attached kitchen drawer pull handles to the top and wheels on the bottom. Somehow he fixed a rope on the front of the board and he would have us sit on it in the driveway while he spun us around as fast as possible. I remember hanging on for dear life and loving it. He was always doing fun things like that until my mother caught him doing it.
He had a very funny sense of humor and did some really funny things. When Valerie and I were little my mom would be bathing us and she would say, “Oh I think Mr. Shampoo man is coming to wash your hair!” Then my dad would come in in this yellow bathrobe and curly black wig and thick rimmed glasses. He would wash our hair and act silly and then he would leave and say “See you tomorrow night!” I remember thinking that everyone had a man come wash their hair at bath time until I realized one day it was my father.
He loved holidays and would always make things very exciting. I still remember one New Years Eve he was running around the house hugging each of us and saying “get the last hug of 1984” “hurry get the last kiss of 1984” and then we took out my mom’s pans and banged on them for about ten minutes past midnight.
He used to like to take us to “visit the snow” each winter. He would get us up early on a Saturday and toss us in the car and head up north. He would take us tubing or even just take us to an empty field and let us throw snow at each other until our feet got too cold in our tennis shoes. Then we would all pack into the car and head home again. One year I remember he took a shovel and filled the back on our truck with as much snow as he could. We then drove home and he spread the snow all over our front yard. All the neighborhood kids came over and thought that was the neatest thing. I remember them asking him where the snow came from and he said “we woke up and it was here – it didn’t snow at your house?”
Once when I was a little older my father came home from work one day with a huge snake. He was so excited because he had found it on a job site. He was pretty sure it wasn’t dangerous. He decided to stick it in an old gerbil cage. A little while later someone looked over and said “where is the snake?” Well of course the snake had easily pushed open the lid of the gerbil cage and was loose in the house. My sister and I ran out into the backyard and refused to come back in until he had found it. Luckily he found it just as it was crawling into a hole in the wall. I don’t know if I could have ever slept in that house again. My mother made him take it back to where he had found it.
My father found the perfect match in my mother. She was patient with him and he loved her more than anything. He didn’t always express it because he was quite shy, but I never doubted for a minute that he loved my mother and he loved me.
For better or for worse my mother was left in charge of all discipline in our home. I don’t think he wanted to burden her with that; it was just that he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He was just so kindhearted and he really hated confrontation. He never raised his voice, EVER, and he never used foul or rude language. He was famous for that and I have heard that once he was working in a house and slammed a hammer on his thumb. The whole construction site went quiet as they waited to see if Steve would finally say a bad word. But he held it in and after a few seconds went back to work.
He was the hardest worker and would often work all week and even Saturdays. Then he would get up and take us all to church every Sunday. I took it for granted at the time but now I realize how much he sacrificed for us. When ever he did have a free Saturday he always wanted to be outdoors. He would take us hiking all around the valley, especially Four Peaks and his favorite, Camelback Mountain where he grew up. He would take us on treasure hunts in the Superstition Mountains and loved to tell the story of the Lost Duchman.
As most of you know my father was a painter my entire life. The smell of paint always reminds me of my childhood. I have made many many art projects out of masking tape over the years. I have always been very proud of him and his artistic abilities with his decorative painting. He had such a creative spirit and he is one of the lucky people who discover a way to make their living doing something they truly enjoy.
My father loved to learn new things and was always interested in the most unique subjects. When I was young he was into magic and I remember him having all his props around the house. He performed at my elementary school and put on quite an elaborate production. One of my uncles dressed up like Darth Vader and a friend was Princess Leia and the kids loved it.
His greatest contribution to the church was his calling as a primary teacher. He loved teaching primary and children just naturally adored him. He taught primary for many years. He was never condescending with people who were younger than him and he had a way of teaching the gospel to children so that they could understand it.
For a long time my father hated computers and refused to even touch one until finally just a few years ago we got him to use the internet. That turned out to be one of his favorite things. He loved being able to read about places and subjects. He loved travel web sites and was always looking for good travel deals. In another life he would have made a great travel agent.
He was the greatest grandpa and just adored his grandkids. He would always take them to the dollar store to get a prize or down to the park or just run around with them in the backyard. He always came up with fun projects for them to do and toys for them to play with. I don’t know how many times he tested out the Mentos / Diet Coke experiment, but he loved stuff like that.
I am so grateful that right before he became sick he was able to take a cruise to Northern Europe with my brother Bret. That trip meant a lot to him and he was so excited to explore the world.
I could tell stories about my father for hours but there will be plenty of time for that in the future. I intend on telling these stories to my children over and over so that they never forget what a wonderful man their grandfather was.
My father firmly believed that there is a God in heaven who lives and loves us. He believed that there is a purpose and a reason to each of our lives and that death is an inevitable part of that. Not too long ago my father told me that he was disappointed that he was going to have to die so soon, but he was thankful that he had lived a good life with people who cared about him and loved him. He said the blessings he had been given in his sixty one years of life had been more than anyone could ask for. His only true regret was not being able to grow old with my mother.
I would like to say a few words to Steve’s grandkids. This has been a really tough year for our family. I want you to know that Grandpa is not scared and he is not sad. He is not in pain anymore and he can move around like he used to. Grandpa is with his mom and dad and with his friends and family who have gone before him. He is with Doogie and I am sure that Doogie is introducing Grandpa to all the friends he has already made in heaven.
It is OK to be sad and its OK to cry. It is also OK to be happy and OK to laugh. Grandpa Steve and Doogie will both be watching over you for the rest of you lives. The greatest thing you can do is to live good long lives and to honor their memories. Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to be happy. He loves Grandpa Steve and he loves Doogie and he will take good care of them until we see them again.
My father loved the New Testament scriptures and I would like to close with a verse from John Chapter 4 verse 7. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.” My father loved with all his heart for all of his life and that love will carry on long after today.
The hardest part of a funeral is the end. It is hard to say goodbye to a loved one and go back to the demands of daily life, but it must be done.
Goodbye father, I love you and I hope to live my life in a way that would honor you.