12 December 2006

Saying Goodbye to Leo

Last week #1 & #2 and I gathered into a plane and made our way to WV. The kids slept some, chewed some gum and asked a ton of questions about death and funerals.

We arrived on Wednesday around noon I think. The mode was somber, lots of funeral preparations taking place. Phone calls were made, cards and flowers arrived, and folk made their way to the Valley.

Thursday was the viewing. The family arranged for a photo video to be shown with traditional gospel music playing in the background - it was tough but great. During the showing #2 fell asleep in my lap.

Friday we gathered for a funeral at Judson Baptist and headed to the cemetary. The service went well. Afterwards the apex of meat trays was on display at the homeplace.

Life is going, the sun came up again, people are still smiling and heat came on. But it isnt the same.

Here are the words I was honored to deliver at the funeral service:

A Life Well Lived: Leo H. White

December 8, 2006

Eulogy delivered by his son-in-law

Judson Baptist Church, Winfield, WV

It took me a good bit to know Leo White. Not that he was a hard man to know, it just would have helped if Lori’s brother, David, would have called me up before we started dating and filled me in on some crucial details about his dad.

When I first went to the house to pick up Lori for our first date she told me her dad and her uncle Harry would be on the porch, Leo would have a tattoo of the Statue of Liberty on his forearm. So I turned onto Poplar Drive, pulled into the driveway got out of the truck and discovered two elderly gentlemen on the porch with tattoos on their forearms. Fifty years of life greatly alters WWII tattoos, so that you cant tell a Statue of Liberty from the Liberty Bell. I simply chose the one with the long narrow tattoo, I guessed right. Thus began my time with Leo.

A couple months later Lori asked me to meet her at the house around 6:30pm. I arrived around 6:45 and knocked on the door. No one answered, but I knew someone was home from the blaring country music streaming from the television. I opened the door and went in. My eyes discovered the twirling skirts and cowboy boots of Dance Ranch, a evening regular program at the White residence. Turning my head to the left I saw Leo sitting in his chair, relaxed, evening paper in his lap and his eye open. I sat down in the chair to the left of him and asked how he was doing – no answer. I asked if the Braves won the afternoon game – no answer. I asked him if he was upset with me - no answer. No one told me Leo had a glass eye and that when he slept its lid never closed.

Leo was hard to get to know but once I did I was glad. Once I got to know him I realized that he did the one and only thing you can ask of a father-in-law: he loved his daughter, my wife, unconditionally.

Leo is an old name, a cheerful name. You whisper it and it brings to mind

Celebrity Tomatoes and Fat Boy Beans

Gospel music and Clay County

A clear Elk River and a picnic in August and Golden Delicious Apples

A remarkable hat collection and Precious Memories

Short-sleeve button up dress shirts and Tales of Little League games in Florida

Suspenders and Coupons

A secret stash of candy in the top drawer and pop in the cellar

Cotton pickin’____ and Meathead

Whisper the name and visions emerge

Leo at the table

He didn’t like for the ceiling fan to be on while eat

With his cup of coffee and spoon of honey in the mornings

Going ahead and eating, not waiting for the rest of us to join him

Waiting till the dishes were almost done before he said sit down Kathy I’ll get those.

Leo with a smile on his face

Telling the story of the license plate he got for the car with the letters OPAL

Pulling the kids in a wagon with the tractor

Watching Letterman, saying he’s crazy

Singing aint no bugs on me and six, a slim sycamores

Making garlic chicken and Christmas Candy

Straw hat on his head and hoe in his hand

Leo not wanting to get his new shoes dirty so he put plastic groceries bags overtop of them. He went down to the garden his plastic covered shoes slipped on the morning dew. A few weeks after this I had him retell me the story then asked who’s the meathead now – he replied with his classic cough.

I told Seneca and Glen about Leo’s death after Lori called me on Tuesday morning. Seneca said this stinks I got zero grandpas now. Yeah this stinks alright. Leo lived 85 long, hard and good years. He was insanely early for church and supper; and for us he died too early too.

Leo, thanks for being Leo. We love you.

Peace of Christ be with you.

1 comment:

Gail said...

Travis-- I'm just now catching up on your blog, and wanted you to know that my heart is with you and Lori and family in the loss of Leo... You're right, this year has sucked for you; but what a wonderful and moving eulogy you did at his service! It was a privilege to read it, and made me feel like suddenly I knew him...and missed him too. Thank you for sharing that. May the coming of Christmas again, and the gradual return of the light after last night's solstice, be gentle blessings in your lives. Thinking of you~ Gail