(Given at my fathers funeral October 17, 2020)
On our way home from the mortuary Monday I sat in the back of the car as I listened to Zak talk with my mom about how to do today’s service. A question popped into my head, it was almost like dad was asking me, Niki do you want to speak at my funeral? My first reaction to the question was panic. I was worried that the day of the service would be overwhelming enough and my mind and body might not work together. I then was reminded of a concept dad has been trying to instill in my mind for years. He’d always say adapt to your surroundings. After I thought about that I thought about how I have always been able to express myself better in writing so I thought it would be great to ask my sister to share my thoughts. After that thought I had a feeling of a blanket being wrapped around me which assured me that both the spirit and dad approved.
Then the hard part came that night. How do you explain to everyone the awesomeness of this man? How do I express the love I have for this man who would take work off to go to dads and doughnuts in elementary school. Who would take a vacation day just to watch his daughter window shop on her birthday. Who would offer a priesthood blessing at a moment’s notice. Who would sit in the back of Sunday school and text positive messages back and forth. You can’t. You can’t describe dad in words.
If you saw me and my dad interact with each other you were probably entertained. I have a different relationship than some girls have with their dad. The problem with us is that I got so many personality traits from my dad that you get two stubborn people together and you don’t know what to expect. We got into this habit these past 6 months or so where at dinner time, I would go and eat food in my room during the week and mom and dad would have time together eating in the main room. When I was done, I would bring my dish out and ask my parents if they were done. Dad decided one night that I hadn’t come in on time and yelled, “NIKI, I DONE!” And ever since then I would get up and get his dish. Somedays when I was in a mood he’d yell and I would shout back. “THAT’S GREAT, I’M HAPPY FOR YOU.”
Since he passed I’ve been having all these memories surface. A few of them really stuck out and I wanted to share them. The first memory was back when I was 8. I was sitting in primary and started picking at the string of my shirt. Before I knew it some of the kids started pointing and I had created a big hole in my shirt. I was so embarrassed. I got up and ran to the clerk’s office where my dad was. I was bawling and he got up and walked me outside. He drove me home to change and then when we got in the car, we didn’t go back to church… we went to dairy queen and road around until church was over. He was always like that, he didn’t like to see anyone hurting so he would do things that he knew would make us smile. Whether it was getting you ice cream, going for a ride, going to the gas station to get you gummy worms after you spilled boiling water on your arm and got a 2nd degree burn or spending a day prom dress shopping and surprising you with a corsage because the guy you liked didn’t ask you to prom.
I also learned that dad had a hidden talent for nails. I don’t mean nails as in building things, I mean doing fingernails and toenails. I had just got home from a vacation and had senior pictures the next day. I was really concerned about having nice press on nails. I wanted it to look right and dad saw me struggling. So he decided to use his “manly” skills and went to the garage and grabbed his dremel kit. I thought he was crazy but my nails turned out to be the best mani/pedi I have ever had. I guess that was his way of paying me back for the multiple foot rubs I gave him.
Dad loved helping me grow, we had so many talks about life and he always helped me work through my intrusive thoughts. For the most part I wanted to keep this tribute light hearted because that’s what dad wanted but I feel impressed to share some of the things he has taught me since he passed. I’ve always underestimated my ability to handle scary events. I always told myself that I wouldn’t be able to do hard things in a stressful moment. In the past year dad felt prompted to discuss this fear with me and we made a plan if something tragic happened and he wasn’t here to help. I figured he was preparing me if he and mom were on a trip, I never thought it would be because he was physically gone.
After having time to reflect on the events of last Saturday I have been humbled to know that dad trusted me so much that he came to me first after passing and helped me become the leader he knew I was. Usually I collapse under extreme stress which I did eventually on that day. But dad “lead me, guided me, walked beside me and helped me find my way.” I was able to physically get to the neighbors for help and call my brothers before collapsing.
Three weeks ago dad sat down and talked with me about my progress with my OCD therapy. He told me that I have been achieving so much mentally that now I was ready to use my tools in real time. I kept saying I don’t think I’m ready and he told me I was. Dad, I know now that I have the strength to do hard things, harder things than I ever thought I’d be doing. Thank you for staying by me until brothers got home. Thank you for showing me what a true leader is, thank you for loving me even when I blamed you for all my troubles.
In the words of John Mayer, “On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl, you are the God and the weight of her world… so fathers be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do.” I will miss you dad and will be overjoyed to see you again. Everytime you’d tuck me into bed you would turn off the light and say “tuck, tuck, tuck” before shutting the door. Well, dad I guess it’s my turn. I love you, “tuck, tuck, tuck”.