Here is a great picture of my dad and his twin brother a few years ago, celebrating their birthday. I am so blessed to have learned the importance of celebrating milestones like birthdays. But my family taught me something else as well, and that is how to celebrate each moment of our lives.
And that is what we did on April 24, 2013! Over 550 people gathered to celebrate my dad’s life. He passed away April 17th, 2013 and although the loss and sadness are overwhelming at times, the love and example he set, helps us live each moment to the fullest. I will share here part of the tribute I gave at his service.
I am honored to be sharing today. My name is Shelley Cowper-Smith and I am so proud to say I am my dad’s favorite youngest daughter. He often greeted me with that comment and there is nothing that sets you up better in life to know you are a favorite.
It is a very easy task to give a tribute to my father, but the greatest challenge is to keep it short. I will do my best as the memories and the joy of my father could fill up many days.
We all knew dad as an honorable, giving and kind gentleman.
I remember seeing him write to his mother every Sunday morning before church. His example of honor went deep into my soul.
We all saw how giving he was in every relationship. He was generous with his time as he served his community in so many capacities. When they came back from Indonesia dad joined mom in her volunteer work reading for the blind and serving with Inn from the cold.
As for being a kind, there is a multitude of examples I could draw from. My husband refers to dad as one of the kindest gentleman he has ever met. I am sure there would be no one to argue that. Even in his kindness he did not back away from a rousing game of cards. On those occasions when he was ahead he would challenge the next game and say, “or are you chicken?”
But for many of us, we had the privilege to not only know this man in all these capacities, but to experience his love. It is like the difference between enjoying the beauty of fruit on a tree in an orchard, and the pleasure of tasting the sweet crispness of the fruit. His compassion was sweet and refreshing to experience and I am truly grateful.
He was a quiet man and rarely gave unsolicited advice. In one of the hardest times in my life, dad ended our phone conversation with the usual “mom and I are pulling for you,” but he added a comment that has made the biggest impact in my life. He told me of a song that he wanted me to hear and that is what I will close with today. Because my greatest joy and comfort is knowing that dad is at peace.
God sent his son They called him Jesus
He came to love Heal and forgive
He lived and died To buy my pardon
An empty grave Is there to prove
My Savior lives
Because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives All fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
I can face the future just because He lives