Thursday, February 5, 2009

"The Funeral Was AWESOME!"

This comment was made by several people the week after my father's funeral.

It was a adjective I've never heard before, when describing a funeral. Others said it was the best funeral they'd ever been to. You know, I can just see my dad up in Heaven, boasting to all of his friends and relatives, "You see, did you hear that? Mine was the BEST funeral they've ever been to!"

I had thought of how we would do his funeral for quite some time. He was in poor health and I am the oldest child and knew I would be responsible for organizing it. And I always knew it would be a stand-up comedian routine. There is no other way it could have gone. My dad was just a outrageous, funny, weird guy and we had to do him justice. Can you imagine what an amazing feeling it was to stand at the pulpit, sharing my father's lunacies, and seeing my mother laughing so hard she was crying? And the following is only part of the hysterics. After I spoke, eight of his grandchildren shared memories, which fell into the category of weird or funny, then three of his life-long friends spoke. The audience was roaring during their words as well. It was awesome and I couldn't have asked for a better send-off for Ed. Because many have asked that I post my father's eulogy, here's a sketch of Ed from my point of view...

"First of all I would like to thank my mom for asking me to speak today. It's an honor and I hope to be able to portray my father in such a way as to help all of you know him the way I did.
Secondly, I would like to thank all of you for the love, generosity and food you've shared with us. It has helped so much to know how much Ed was loved and it has made the grieving process a little bit easier to bear.

My father's passing seems to me to be the end of an era. He was bigger than life, in more ways than one. I can't imagine my life without him in it. I can't imagine my mom's life without him in it. And honestly, when our family gets together, I don't know what we are going to do for entertainment. One of our favorite family passtimes is to make fun of Ed. In July, during our family reunion, my sister, Kimberly, came up with a game called "Ed Trivia" in which she asked the family questions about Ed's life and we had the opportunity to call out the answers. These were questions like:

How many buses did Ed have buried on his property? 1
How many vehicles are on his property? 37
How many of them actually run? 3
Why is George Bush Ed's Hero? because "he's just like me".

The best part of the game was that Ed couldn't stop laughing the whole time. He even threw in his own questions, occurances we had forgotten about. He thoroughly enjoyed this game at his expense and always seemed to be at his best when we were all laughing at, I mean, with him.

With that, I would like to set the tone of Ed's memorial today. Perhaps this will be somewhat of an unusual funeral, but my father was an unusual guy, so it will be fitting. I'm not sure if people get to watch their own funerals from the spirit world, but if he is watching, I would hope that he will smile on us as we share our memories.

First a little history....
Ed was born to Gus (Tito) and Aurora (Lala) Hickerson on July 12, 1945. He had a wonderful childhood which involved good friends from whom we'll have the priveledge of hearing a little later and little rat terrier named Princey.

He graduated from Cathedral high school in 1963.
- worked in Houston in a factory for a year and realized he needed to get an education.
- then went on to earn a bachelor's at UTEP in 1967.

Ed worked hard for many years as a school teacher while we were little and earned extra money for his growing family by working late into the night after school making wrought iron designs.

When his father retired, he passed his wood flooring business over to Ed and my father turned the business into the "premier wood flooring company in El Paso". He ran his business successfully even while enduring failing health over the past few years and worked every day up until three weeks before he died.

The facts I just mentioned are probabaly not new information to most of you in this room. Now I would like share some things that you might not have known about Ed. I would like to help you get to know him the way I knew him.....the real Ed...

I'd like to start by sharing with you a list of ten things I learned from Ed in no particular order. There are a lot more than ten, but because of time constraints, we will just stick with these.

1. If you are going to make soup, make a lot of it.
If any of you know my dad, you know that he loved to cook. And soup for one evening wasn't something he would ever consider. The pot had to be this big....and once it was cooked, had to be stored in at least 20 Ziploc freezer bags.

2. The other driver is always stupider than you are.
My father always taught us to drive defensively by helping us to realize that at any given time, all of the drivers around us could behave in the most irrational way and that we should always beware of drivers who were "stupider" than we were.

3. You should get up at the crack of dawn. Unless you were sick or rich, you had no business being in bed. He could not accept it if any of his children slept in at any time.

4. Don't ever let anyone tie you up.
For some reason, my father was very worried that this would happen to us. Often, upon our return home from school, He would say, "You didn't let anyone tie you up today, did you?" I'm not sure what was behind that.

5. Stay with the pack.
This was my father's way of saying that we should always use the buddy system. Good advice.

6. Who says casual Friday can't mean wearing your swim trunks to work?
Once while I was out running errands with a few of my kids, I called my dad and asked him if he wanted to meet for lunch. Of course he said yes and we made arrangements for where to meet. I arrived there first and sat down with my kids. When I saw him walk in, I was shocked to see he was wearing swim trunks with his regular stretch polo. I asked, "Dad, have you been to work today?"
"Oh yes, I've been at several different job sites and I've given a couple of estimates, too."
"Dad, do you realize that you are wearing a swimming suit?"
"No, I'm not, these are just shorts"
"No, Dad, they're swim trunks."
When he was able to shift himself around enough to see his shorts, he finally admitted that they were, indeed, swim trunks. The strange thing is that I saw him wear them several more times until my mom probably decided to hide them from him.

7. There are multiple ways to create a room with a view.
My mother had a beautiful dining room. Except for one thing...Every time she looked out the window, she was accosted by a view of piles of construction material my dad had decided to store there. She had asked him to move it many times, but he felt like that was where it needed to be stored. In an effort to please my mother, however, he decided one day that while she was out of town, he would take care of the problem.

When she returned, she walked by the window and saw out of the corner of her eye that it appeared to be fogged up. She didn't think much of it, and assumed that the shower in the nearby bathroom had fogged up the window. However, when she walked by again an hour later, she noticed that the window was still fogged up. Upon closer inspection, she found that it had been spray painted white in order to hide the unappealing view of the construction material. My mother did not approve of this and questioned him as to why he had done such a thing. He answered that he had thought that she would appreciate not having to look at the ugly view anymore. My mom didn't appreciate it and the paint had to be scraped off with a razor by the same workman who had originally been asked to spray paint it.

8. Set a good example for your children.
Once, as my father and his youngest daughter were walking out of Sun Harvest, they spotted two hundred dollar bills on the sidewalk by the parking lot. My father picked them up and looked around, wondering where they had come from. He saw a man walking with his family into the store from the direction in which he had found the money and followed them to ask if it was their's. It was determined that the man had dropped the money as he had gotten out of his car and he was so grateful that my father had been honest in finding the owner of the money. What a wonderful example this action set for his daughter and it's something I never forgot.

9. Be your child's advocate, no matter how old they are.
3 and a half years ago, the man I was dating, who happens to be sitting there, decided to propose to me. To follow tradition, however, and out of respect for my father, he wanted to first ask Ed's permission, even though he was only ten years younger than my father. We took Ed out to lunch to one of his favorite restaurants, which is always a great idea if you want a conversation to go well, and John officially asked my father for his permission to marry me.

My father looked at John and said, "Well, first, I have a few questions to ask you. First of all, do you have any judgements against you?"
John answered that he didn't.
I asked, "Dad, don't you have judgements against you?"
His answer: "Yes, many, but that's not the point."
All I remember about John's response to the incident on the way home in the car was him saying, "Bless your father's heart."

10. You don't have to have money to be rich.
I remember one incident so clearly, that occured about 25 years ago. My sisters and I were sitting on the couch in the living room and my father walked in from work with his arms spread wide, and shouted, "I am a rich man!" We all looked at each other with questioning glances and wondered what had happened. He continued to say, "....because I have a YOU ALL as my family!" This is something that stayed with me for over 25 years and I now can call myself a rich woman also.

I hope you could see from this list that my father had a love for life and there was never a dull moment when he was around. I am so thankful for the characteristics I developed as I learned from him. Even though he wasn't a church-going man, he always told me that he had an open line of communication with God and I believe he did. He knew what was important...and that was family.
...And if he felt like he was a rich man with five kids, he felt like a billionaire once his grandkids came. I will now turn the time over to them and to some of my siblings to give them the opportunity to share their memories I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

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Anonymous said...

It really sounds like an awesome funeral for an awesome man! I always wished my funeral would be like a party, with all my loved ones sharing good food and jokes and stories... Your father in that picture reminds me of Ernest Hemingway...
thanks for sharing that!

Diane said...

This is my first visit to your blog and I must say, I loved your post! Having just buried my own husband on Jan. 29, it was so nice to read about your father's funeral. My husband's was much the same. I believe he and your father could have been fast friends. Thank you for sharing, it has given my heart comfort to read what you have written.


Anonymous said...

I enoyed this tribute to your Fqather. Thanks for sharing. SOund like quite a wake.

Laughed out loud at the swim trunks-- sounds like my hubby.

Fari Thomas said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog. The stories of your father, your home and your children bring back so many memories for me. Your family was a huge part of my childhood and adolescent years. I loved going to your home and talking to Ed. He always had about 15 bean and cheese burritos from Taco Bell in the fridge, just in case anyone else wanted any! He was always so generous. :)