I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about what I would say here. I’ve known for a while that I wouldn’t be attending the funeral, so it was expected of me to write something, but I didn’t quite know what to say. Thankfully, this poem by Victoria Hanley, from her novel, The Seer and The Sword, expresses a lot of what I am feeling:
“We will never walk together over the fields of earth,
Never hear the birds in the morning.
Oh, I have lived with you and loved you
And now you are gone away.
Gone where I cannot follow
Until I have finished all my days.”
I’ll never see my father again, and that hurts. I’ll never get to enjoy Friday Night Pizza from Pizza Pizza, and Saturday Morning Breakfast at Tiki Hut. I’ll never hear him explain why our initials are so special to our family history. I’ll never feel the scratchiness of his stubble against my cheek when we hug. I’ll never sing another made up duet with him, and I think that that hurts the most.
My father shared with me two things in life: a love of music, and an appreciation for good conversation. My earliest memory of my dad and myself was during a drive down the Bight Road toward Turtle Cove. Club Nouveau’s version of “Lean on Me” was playing on the radio, but at some point my dad decided it was a good idea to make up a song just for me and him. I couldn’t have been more than four at the time, but it is a vivid memory for me because it was one of the first times that I can remember singing with my dad.
Daddy loved to talk to people: I can’t tell you how many memories I have of falling asleep in his arms in a church yard while he has a full conversation with whoever stopped him right them. My daddy loved new ideas, and he especially loved a good debate. If I had an issue, we would talk it out, and I would come out of it feeling like my opinion was respected. I remember crying on the phone to daddy about a particular issue, and I don’t even remember what he said or if he even agreed with me, but I do remember feeling a lot better about myself by the end of it. We didn’t have these conversations all the time, but it was nice to know that I could talk to him and he would listen. I don’t get to have that anymore.
My father never let me go without telling me that he loved me. He was particular about making sure that all of his children felt loved, and loved each other. Some people might not see that as a necessity, but I will always love my father for it. I don’t ever want my younger siblings to feel that I don’t love them, or that I wouldn’t do for them if they asked it of me. My dad talked to my younger siblings about me, and talked to me about them so that we would always know each other, even if we rarely saw each other. That’s something that I will be grateful for for the rest of my life.
I’ll always remember my daddy as a man who had made many mistakes, but had come out of them wiser and more grounded. I’ll remember him as the person who introduced me to Michael Jackson, and made me appreciate a good falsetto. I’ll remember him as someone who tried to be as positive as possible, but leveled with me when he needed to, and wasn’t afraid to cry in front of me when he saw me off at the airport. My daddy was my encouragement, and in all things he was proud of me. He is irreplaceable, but I know that he wouldn’t want me to waste my life grieving over a memory. So the only thing that I can do is keep pressing forward, doing the best that I can, and hope that he’s still proud of me even as he watches over me. in the afterlife.
If I had one last chance to talk to my dad, I guess I would say this: I love you, daddy, and I hope that we’ll one day meet again in Heaven.
If you have any memories of my father, Rev. Dr. Evan Conrad Howell, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Works referenced: Hanley, Victoria. The Seer and The Sword. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf, 2000.