Remembering My Father (My eulogy)

When some people die it can be a challenge to find good things to say about them. But doing a eulogy for my father is an easy assignment. The great comic of the 20th century Will Rogers used to end his act by saying “I never met  a man I didn’t like.” My dad was like that. He was unfailingly friendly and kind. There may have been a person my father didn’t like, but I can’t remember any.

Jim Fudge in the Navy, WWII

Some stories of my dad are pretty good.  Like the time he called the police when a squirrel crawled in the window of my brother’s bedroom in my hometown, Grinnell, Iowa. I didn’t actually see this story develop because I had to leave early to my job detasseling corn that summer. But I relish his retelling of it.

Like how he started by finding my brother dead asleep as he tried to rouse him to the danger of the squirrel. To when the police arrived (and they did come), two armed men to confront the squirrel in our house.  Somehow they managed to get the animal to exit the window from where he came.

My dad was a great storyteller.  And he did believe a good story deserves to be retold. And he retold lots of them, many times over. It was rare for  me to hear a story only once from dad. Doug McCleod, or maybe his wife Sue, told me of how they had a relative who told stories over and over, and they would hold up fingers to indicate to them how times they had already heard the story the person was about to tell.

When my dad was a very young man he served in WWII, which I think was the adventure of his life.  If he were here today he may agree with that, or maybe he’d think marrying my mom or  having my brother and me was a greater adventure.

But after a lifetime of listening to his war stories I actually got to interview him about his  war experiences for my employer, KPBS, for Memorial Day, 2015. We heard the story of how he rode a train across the country to San Francisco on his way to a deployment in the Pacific, and walked with his buddies through a train car full of female service members, WACs. And how a German torpedo slammed into the hull of  their ship, but it turned out to be a dud.  I still have a recording of that interview and I cherish it.

He gave me that interview for Memorial Day, though it wasn’t a memorial day for him. Today is his memorial. So goodbye dad.  You had a  great life, and I’ll see you again when I get there.

 

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