Friday was a beautiful day. Sunny, and even though it had been 100 degrees just on Wednesday, a lovely cool down had begun so that you really could have used a sweater. I’m thinking it would have been a great day for a trail ride.
The service was lovely; our sister did a great job of arranging a very fitting tribute. A shout out to Crismon’s Flowers, too: when I arranged for the urn wreath I asked for something with a cowboy sensibility, and Deanne seemed doubtful, but I left it with her at ‘masculine flowers’ and her creativity and they did an awesome job.
People tend to say that a funeral is an event where we say our goodbyes to the departed. I don’t feel like I said goodbye, though. Or if I did, I did a lousy job of it, because I keep talking to Dad in my head.
I was honored to be able to speak briefly; the text is below.
When the Hubble Space Telescope needs to be pointed somewhere in the night sky, the coordinates are sent to the telescope and then gyroscopes spin into action to aim it.
During ten days over Christmas in 1995 the Hubble was pointed at the emptiest section of the sky in the Ursa Major constellation and set for a long exposure. The resulting photographs were described by NASA as ‘astonishing.’ They counted almost three thousand new galaxies, and found that the Hubble had literally seen back in time to the Big Bang.
Why am I telling you this? Dad designed and led the building of those gyroscopes, and his career was spent designing ones just like it that were used to position all manner of unmanned spacecraft and satellites.
So: epic astronomical discoveries and while we’re at it, time travel, brought to you by George Lane Stocking. We’re told that his systems were one part of the Hubble that have never needed replacing.
The way you do anything is the way you do everything, so it’s fitting that Dad spent his career designing dependable attitudinal control, because no one has ever managed their attitude and their life the way he did.
Dad was not big on words, telling us what to believe, or what to do, or repeating that he loved us. Instead he gave us decades of steady, reliable exposure to thousands of galaxies of consistent examples of honor, commitment, effort, and integrity.
And just like the pictures from the Hubble, those examples go back in time. To 1950, when he made a promise to love and honor our mother. To World War II, when he made a promise to defend our country. And even back to the Depression, when a fatherless boy worked jobs so he could afford to go to school.
Supporting our family? It took major surgery to make him miss more than a day or two of work in thirty years.
Spiritual example? While he was able, he never missed one Sunday Mass or one holy day of obligation. He faithfully attended adoration chapel and maintained a lifelong devotion to the rosary.
Steady home life? He demonstrated his commitment to our family by never failing in his love for our mother, and how he and mom cared for Patrick when he became so ill.
Even when we were very small, we knew that friends and neighbors turned to him to help them through tragic situations. So if you worked with him, or knew him as a friend, he was there for you, too, and because his good example lives on, he’ll always be there.
When you wear your cowboy boots and your fancy Stetson to a formal event, he’s there.
When you dial up your daughter on the phone and chat for hours while you patiently watch the Phoenix Suns lose another game, he’s there.
When you drink a cup of fully leaded coffee at 11 pm, climb into bed and sleep soundly for eight hours straight, he’s there.
When you make a gedunk run for chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, brownies, and marshmallow fluff, he’s there.
When you watch Yankee Doodle Dandy every Fourth of July and tap your feet in time to the music, he’s there.
When you survey your home, every light fixture burning brightly at 1 am, and you are forced to inform your family that you do not, in fact, own the electric company, he’s there.
When you decide that everything looks better from the back of a horse, he’s there.
When you need to know what to do, he’ll always be there, pointing the way with his example and his always dependable attitudinal control.
And we’ll be here, missing him.
© E. Stocking Evans 2018