Deja Vu: Dad Memorial #2

Does this feel familiar?  Haven't we done this before?  It was just a little over a year ago that many of us were in this same place, mourning the loss of my mother.  Getting my father into this church was a chore but done thanks to Rev. Brooks Hundley.  He sat in a wheelchair right there.  And now here we are again. 

As each of you here know, my dad could be a difficult man.  One of the reasons I believe he was so "difficult was that when he committed to something; he was resolute. Those things that he was passionate about, he was fully dedicated to.  He did NOT do anything halfway.  When he was in, he was IN.  That goes for when I married Steve and he made sure every detail was taken care of at the yacht club that evening, including blocking out a special parking spot just for our car.  It goes for when we decided to adopt James and at the very last minute (just days after he was born and before we could return home) we needed extra funds, he got them to us without hesitation.

 When my parents joined the Normandy Beach Yacht Club back in 1979, it was because they were both committed to sailing.  They each had their own sunfish and their own crew (which was required) and I don't think they ever missed a Sunday race.  Keep in mind that until 1995. my parents didn't have a home here.  We would rent a house, usually for the month of July and then during the month of August EVERY Sunday we would get up early, get some brief beach time and then head to NBYC to race.  Once awards were given, we would head back north.  This went on for years because both of my parents were dedicated to NBYC's Sunday Sailing program; it was the bedrock on which the NBYC was founded in 1946. They carried on that legacy even after they no longer were sailing.  There was rarely a Sunday that did not find them here; my mother taking registrations and my father "running the show."  Making sure that races ran smoothly and properly was of the utmost importance.  It HAD to be done right.

All this translated well when my father became the NBYC representative to the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association.  While his Sunday afternoons were dedicated to NBYC, his Saturdays, ALL Day were for the BBYRA.  Those of you here who are active with the BBYRA know what I mean.  I have no idea what goes on, but I DO know that it's a lot of work and if the race was down bay, it was a LONG and exhausting day.  I'm not sure how many years dad worked on the BBYRA race committee, but I know am in possession of end of the season/SPYC t-shirts from 2004 through 2016.  I also have a 1998 Sanderling Worlds polo and a 100th anniversary BBYRA vest.  Dad literally wore his love.

Dad was equally committed to this church.  I have no idea how many summers he worshipped here, but I'm guessing it was at least 20 years.  If it weren't for Covid and his mobility and health issues, I'm pretty sure he would have been here up until the Sunday before he died.  He was a regular at the 8 AM service, sometimes the 9:30 too.  Then of course he would run home to prepare for his other love, the aforementioned Sunday races at NBYC.  He was a devoted Episcopalian: worshipping for years at Church of the Holy Spirit in Verona when he lived up North, here in the summer, All Saints in Bay Head when he was here after the summer season and I believe St. John's when my parents spent time in the winter in Naples.  He was a regular fixture in all of these churches, but St. Simon held a special place in his heart, as did the people.  He always donated the flowers to the church on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of July in honor of his mother's birthday.  And I have to admit that I feel a little guilty that I didn't continue this tradition, but I'll be honest I didn't think of it until I was writing this and it popped into my head on July 18th, which just happened to be her birthday.  (I didn't even remember the date.)  After the service he'd want the flowers to go to someone special.  He'd bring one bouquet home to my mom and make the other went to someone who needed a lift or to the visiting pastor, especially if it was one of his "favorites."  Don't tell anyone, but "Timmy" and "Brooks" topped that list.  I am especially grateful to Rev. Timothy Kimbrough (I don't think I've earned the right to call him least not yet) who visited my dad regularly in the last few weeks of his life.  He was pleasantly surprised that my father was able to recognize him and call him by name.  Even in his last days, my dad knew those he loved.

My dad was not necessarily one to say the words "I love you," but expressed his feelings via text or email.  If you got an email reminding you about a Bucknell basketball game or a text telling you that the roads were flooding; he was telling you he cared.  If he responded to one of your emails; even if it was just to say that he was back in the hospital, he did so because you were important to him.  If you ever received a voicemail from him; he valued you.  Until he was rushed to the hospital on June 13th, he would call me daily and almost always at the exact wrong time.  He didn't have much to say, but the fact that he called to tell me about the late newspaper or the lousy food meant that he loved me.  I had a special, somewhat annoying, ringtone associated with his cell phone number.  I miss that annoying ring. And since you are here today, I bet you miss those emails, texts and voicemails too.

I love you dad and I miss you.   But I will never pass by this church or watch boats sail on Barnegat Bay without feeling your spirit because in those things you will always be there.


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