This is Father's Day, 2004.
When my Father passed away in 1992, he didn't want a fancy
funeral. We had a gathering of family members at the home
of my step-sister Tammy and I was asked to say a eulogy
for him. Then his wish was to have his ashes scattered over
the ocean. His passion was the sea having served our country
in the Navy for 22 years. I just want to share what I wrote
about Dad back then.
We are gathered here today
to honor the memory of Arthur Earl, and our presence bears
testimony to the value he held closest to his heart, the
he was a son. Born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on November
26, 1920 and found stubborn as a mule as his mother said
after a long labor, he was five when his family left their
log home for Oregon. The Model ďTĒ Ford took them first
to The Dalles and later to Portland. By now he was also
a brother and the family grew dearer to him with each new
brother and sister.
He loved the outdoors and
spent many hours working in the fields or the garden. He
attended Hudson and Glencoe Elementary and Washington High
School. When his concern for his family combined with his
great love for the open seas and infinite skies, he embarked
on a twenty-two year career with the Navy. It was 1938 when
he left home to provide relief for his dear ones financially
and pursue his dream of seeing the world. One brother was
lost while he was gone and another also served in World
War II and when news reached him that this young man had
made the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country, he
wrote home with these words of condolence: "He is
absent in body hut his spirit will always he with us. He
was good and therefore he will be waiting for us to join
him in heaven."
Those words he so kindly
expressed echo in our hearts today as we remember him. The
family came first and loved ones were never forgotten. This
wonderful man carried on with his noble determination and
in 1946 he met his first wife and was now a husband and
father. She gave him a son and three daughters and he set
Oregon aside to make a home for her in her home state of
Pennsylvania. He retired from the Navy in 1960 and always
concerned for the welfare of his loved ones, he continued
his education at Rutgers University in New Jersey. It was
hard to leave the gentle countryside of Pennsylvania, but
a new life was to begin in New Jersey with employment at
the Telephone Company. In 1968, when tragedy took the wife
and mother his family loved, it was Oregon where he sought
comfort with the loved ones he had left behind so long before.
Renewed and restored with
his closest kin, he suddenly found his family expanded when
he took a second and just as dear wife with her four youngins'
under his wing. Always a father and brother and son his
life grew richer and his love stronger and he retired from
his second career after twenty years. He bowled and fished
and traveled his retirement years, always with family as
his companion and inspiration. His joy grew and grew and
he became grandfather and great-grandfather as well. Like
his father before him, this manís spirit was made stronger
by the love that surrounded him. He may now not be with
us in body but he lives forever in our hearts and with his
passing we gather to say goodbye and thank you and pay tribute
to Arthur Earl and imagine him to recite to us:
I must go down
to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.
all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
And the wheels kick and the windís song and the white sails
And a grey mist on the seaĎs face and
a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down
to the seas again, for the call of the running tide.
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
and all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying
and the flung spray and the flung spume and the sea
I must go down
to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life
gullís way and the whaleís way
where the windís like
a whetted knife
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a
laughing fellow rover
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream
when the long trickís over.
Sleep quiet dear
father, dear brother and son
and dream sweet dear love
for all time to come.