We Miss You
Gratitude Day 24
I am grateful for my Daddy, who, along with my Mom taught me everything I needed to know about living life and loving.
I hope they are proud…
– Lisa Long Preisler
This is the eulogy I wrote and delivered through tears for my Daddy after his death in July 2016. I still miss him, but he is with me always.
“Our Daddy was our rock, our hero, and our first love. He didn’t show emotion much until his later years, but everything he did for us girls proved his love. Dad taught us every lesson we needed to know about living life and loving by his actions:
Dad Modeled that Love is Forever. He and Mom were married for 59 years and almost 9 months. Their commitment was strong and they were inseparable. One of their friends stated “if you would see one, the other was not far behind.” Another remarked that “You couldn’t talk about Harry without talking about Marilyn.” I remember only one heated argument growing up. When Mom passed, Dad’s heart was broken and he was never the same. His loneliness was overwhelming. While our hearts are shattered at him leaving us, he is happy now, because he is with Mom.
We Learned that Family Comes First. Daddy would do anything for us girls, his grandchildren, his great-granddaughters, and his extended family. His grandchildren and great-granddaughters were the lights of his life. If you look closely enough you can see it in every picture, but we witnessed it first-hand. Whenever they entered the room he lit up like a Christmas tree. He loved all his girls, but Shawn was his BOY! He was so proud! There was nothing better to him than having a grand or great-grandchild on his lap or at his house.
Whenever we needed a shoulder, he was there. If we needed help, he was there. When we were growing up Dad played with us and laughed with us. He even danced with us – with me it was usually Nat King Cole and he sang “Mona Lisa” as we were dancing. But instead of crying with us when someone hurt us, he just threatened to kill them, not literally. He supported us in (almost) everything we did and attended our school and sporting events. But if we told our problems to our Dad, we had to be ready for the unvarnished truth. So much so that many times we talked to Mom first because she was the softer of the two.
Saturdays were spent at Grandma Francis’ house and we didn’t leave until Lawrence Welk was over. Many Sundays we traveled to Grandma and Grandpa Bush’s house – usually down back roads and dad always convinced us that he was lost. I remember many days at Aunt Lois and Uncle Ronnie’s home and attending family reunions. Family didn’t necessarily have to be related either, his AMVETS friends were considered family. When Allan and Somer came along, he considered them family as well.
We were Given a Foundation of Faith. We went to church every Sunday. Dad not only took us to church, but was also involved in the church. He and Mom were youth group leaders, taught Sunday school, they were active in their Sunday school class, he was Sunday school superintendent, and he sang in the choir. Some of the best friends that they had and we grew up with were our church friends.
We were Taught that Patriotism is Significant. Dad was a proud Air Force Veteran. He rarely went out of the house without his Air Force hat on his head. He was PROUD of his service. Two of his proudest moments were when Shawn joined the Army and gave him the flag flown in Iraq. When Shawn returned from basic training Grandpa gave him a lifetime AMVETS membership and they spent hours at the kitchen table sharing stories. Dad and Grandpa Bush had heated political arguments at the dinner table over politics and both knew their stuff. He encouraged us to vote in every election, regardless of whether we were voting his way or not, because it was our duty as Americans.
Dad Modeled that Knowledge is Imperative. Dad taught us how to barter by taking us to Auctions and Flea markets. When I was older I always got a dollar (or maybe more) to bid on something that I wanted, but he would tell me what the limit was. He took us with him to his second job when he was in the trenching business.
Dad taught us girls how to drive, to check the oil, fluids, change tires, and our way around the engine of a car. He taught me to race, but probably stopped doing that with the rest of my sisters after I dropped the drive shaft out of my ’67 Mustang out on Parcher Road. Most of us inherited his love of fast cars. We all were encouraged to get jobs and we did. Dad was always learning. He went to trade school to advance his job at General Motors. We were also encouraged to go to college because dad wanted us to succeed.
Dad Proved that Community Service is Meaningful. Daddy was very proud of Bucyrus. He was involved in the Veteran’s Memorial Project, building the suspension bridge to Aumiller Park, the AMVETS where he was Post Commander, the VFW, the Elks where he was Exalted Ruler, and the American Legion. He worked at every Bratwurst Festival, from the church and band boosters booths to the Elks and the AMVETS Beer Gardens. He was involved in band and athletic boosters when we were kids, and later at Sad Sacks at the AMVETS. A family friend related that her most fond memories are associated with working with Dad at those events.
Dad Demonstrated that Friends are Essential. From early years in church to friends made at work and in service organizations, Dad’s friends were important to him. He hung out with his friends at the V, the AMVETS, and for a long time had coffee daily with his buddies at Hardees. If we didn’t get Dad and Mom on the phone, we only needed to call the AMVETS. When asked to share memories, Dad’s friends related that they enjoyed going to Elks and AMVETS’ conventions and just hanging out. One of Dad’s friends simply said “Elks Golf Outings- WOW!” I won’t even touch that with a 10-foot pole!
Mom and dad regularly had friends over or we went to their homes. Our friends were important as well. When asked to share memories, many friends related that Dad was like their second dad. Another said that Dad was their child’s second grandparent and regularly took her daughter to get ice cream. Others remember times spent around the kitchen table, Christmas Eve gatherings with the gang, and some mentioned fun times meeting at Pisanello’s for the pizza buffet. One of my dear friends stated “I have too many memories because I lived over at your house on weekends. Your parents were truly saints – they were kind and non-judgmental and showed me what a traditional family could be like because I didn’t have one. It may sound silly but I cherished eating dinner with you all.” Dad and Mom made everyone feel welcome in their home.
Dad had a Competitive Spirit. Whether it was golfing, bowling, turkey shoots, or playing cards, he wanted to win. My Aunt related stories of Dad playing Euchre with Grandma and Grandpa Francis. They always started with Dad asking, “Are you ready to get beat?” Then when he won he would slam the cards down on the table, throw his arms up in the air, and hoot and holler shouting “I won” over and over, further rubbing it in by saying “I’ll come back when you learn how to play cards!” He also wanted us to win at everything we did. Denise tells of Dad watching one of her basketball tournaments in the stands (while listening to an OSU game). When a girl on the opposing team clotheslined her, she heard a yell from the stands: “Punch her!” Denise didn’t follow Daddy’s advice, but she regrets it to this day because she ended up with a technical for mouthing off to the Ref.
I’ll let you in on a secret, when we were playing games at home as children, although Daddy wanted to win he let us win a lot, but beat us enough to keep us humble.
Daddy Showed us that Laughter is Important. Dad laughed. A lot. He told many jokes, and his sense of humor was dry. My Aunt tells a story that involved Dad, Grandma, and Uncle Gene riding back from the Lake on a hot summer day with Limburger cheese in the back seat. Everyone was looking at one another thinking the other was causing the smell, but nobody wanted to point fingers. Only when Dad got out of the car to use the bathroom and they still smelled the rancid smell did they realize that it was the cheese. That was one of Grandma’s favorite stories and caused a great deal of laughter.
One of his dear friends shared a story about Dad singing karaoke and said “Everyone would be shy about singing in front of the crowd, not Harry. He would pick a golden oldie, a slow country tune, or his stand-by Jambalaya, and croon away! He enjoyed himself and we did too. What a beautiful soul he was!” And last, but certainly not least…
Dad Taught Us by Example that there is Absolutely Nothing Wrong with Being Stubborn. Enough said.
Daddy, you are a shining example of what a wonderful Father should be. You showed us how to love and keep family close. You taught first-hand and by example all of the lessons and skills that we needed to continue without you. You were the best Father, Grandfather, and Great-Grandfather we could ever have hoped for. So rest peacefully in heaven Daddy, and give Mom and Dana a hug and kiss from us. We will love you forever with all our hearts and will miss you until we see you again…
–Your loving daughter, Lisa”