On Feb 15th (the day after Valentine’s Day) my sweet Daddy passed away. He had been struggling with advanced Alzheimers and then suffered a massive stroke, there was no coming back from his stroke. I can hardly type about it. I know I should be recording each thought and feeling, each sweet moment but it’s hard to do so. Each time I try I feel stalled by the feelings of grief mixed with just being unsure about what to say. I love him. I miss him. I always will.
I wrote his obituary, and I also spoke at his funeral and poured out my heart there. Perhaps I’ll post my funeral address, at least that can speak to some of the things I feel about him being gone:
Memories of Dad
Friends and Family, our hearts are full that you are with us today. I want you to know that I believe this is a great and glorious day, a celebration of Dad’s life on this earth. I know with all of my heart that he is having a grand reunion with his friends and family who have gone before him, I know that he has been embraced by his parents John McNally and Patricia Beisel as well as his adopted parents Charles and Viva Wynder, He has reunited with Wayne Mendenhall, Calvin Crapo and Ralph Pullman his dear Brother-in-Laws, His Brother Dennis, and many more friends and family including his beloved black lab Bailey. He has been embraced by his King and Savior Jesus Christ. Oh, How great is his joy! This, though hard for us, is his graduation day and as I stumble through with some tears, I want you to know that my heart is happy for my Dad to have passed through the bands of this mortal life. I am honored to be his daughter, and to have grown up at his feet.
I have many memories of my Dad, many of them are vivid in my mind as he was always larger than life in the things that he did with us. Whether it was playing with us, teasing us, or teaching us spiritual things my Dad was the authority on “awesome”. He loved his children with all of his soul, and I know this because he shared with us many times how we were his pride and joy. What a gift to grow up knowing that my Father loved us so, sometimes I’ll admit it was annoying to me in my youth that he was so involved in everything I was up to. As I have grown, I have admired his deep love and concern for his children, he constantly would try to steer us in truth. My Dad was flawed like all of us, he had a temper and he knew how to use it. But when it came to his family, his wife and kids or especially his faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and his gospel my Dad was entirely unwavering. He loved the gospel and loved to live it, he loved to share it, he was never afraid to tell anyone what he believed. I love and admire that beautiful testimony that my Dad grew throughout his life. He came from the most difficult of circumstances, but the Lord gave him many spiritual gifts and abilities in exchange for the heartache he endured as a child and a young man.
I have many treasured memories and stories of him as a Dad. I was an incredibly colicy baby, I would cry in pain from stomach upset as a newborn but my Dad discovered that if he sang to me, and bounced me up and down as he ran around through my parents tiny one bedroom apartment it would ease my pain and I could fall asleep. I have been told all of my life about the countless hours and many miles my Dad spent with me as an infant, running in circles singing “Up on the Housetop” so I could be comforted.
As kids we would dash to the window when Dad would arrive home from work. Courtnee and Brett and I would practically run each other over to greet him because that’s when the party had arrived. My Dad was a master at throwing us up into the air, we loved that feeling of being tossed into space and then landing back safely in his strong arms. He would often walk in from work and meet my Mom in the kitchen. Then he would pick her up over his shoulder and spin around. My Mom would tell him to “knock it off”, and we’d all laugh our heads off. I love that image of my Dad spinning around Mom in the kitchen.
Dinner time at our house was not like dinner at any other house. In fact it might be considered “Dinner Theatre”, Dad loved to laugh and shock us. He would create grand stories at the dinner table and while doing so he would create a scene with the food on his plate or even the tabletop. It was usually when there we had mashed potatoes and gravy so he could take his finger and create a river in the story or clouds. It was magical and fun, I couldn’t believe Mom allowed him to play with his food. But he made it so fun to be with him.
Dad loved to laugh and joke, he even loved his own sense of humor! (pause) He told us many jokes growing up, some of them he told us WAY too many times. He also was hilarious about making up impromptu poems for us like the ever famous “Birds by Bernie Wynder” which went something along the lines of talking about the birds twittering in the leafy trees, the sun was shining, “I coaxed him over with a loaf of bread, And then I crushed his little head!!” Shocking right?! He was a big kid and I will never forget the night in our home in Falconridge when he told us the Poncho Gonzalez joke. It was a bit too gritty for this company, but I thought he was hilarious.
Back in the day when I was little you didn’t have car seats or even need to wear seatbelts. I would stand up next to my Dad in the front seat while he drove with my arm on his shoulder. I also remember driving out to Rosemary, Alberta many times as a child and Dad would let me drive the car on his lap. I drove a car many times before I ever held a license and most of those miles were before I was a teenager. On our trips to Rosemary he would tell us about growing up in the orphanage, being picked up by the Wynders for the first time, and growing up on the farm near Rosemary. We would stop by the old farm and he would tell us about the first time he saw Grandma’s food storage. He had never seen so much food, it was overwhelming for him. He had gone hungry many times as a child, and the Wynders lovingly told him that whenever he was hungry he could take out anything he wanted to eat. Bottles of cherries and all kinds of canning. He was so blessed to be adopted by the Wynders, they taught him many things on the farm and my Dad recalled them teaching him that first day how to pray. My Dad had never prayed before. They taught him the gospel and they gave him a home. My heart wells over with love for them and what they gave my Dad, and by extension his entire posterity.
My Dad was an interesting teacher. As a kid I couldn’t remember which foot was my right foot and which was my left. In a flash of genious my Dad spit on my foot and exclaimed “that’s your right!” to which I never forgot and recalled many times when pressed in the coming years about right and left.
Dad spent loads of time with us as children. He taught me how to ride a bike, he taught us all how to do that. We also spent countless hours in gymnasiums cheering for my brother in basketball games. And when you’d succeed he would Cheer loudly for you. He has always been my Champion and my greatest Cheerleader in my life. This is the part of my Dad that I will miss the most. I could always count on Dad being proud of me. He was never short on praise and always made me feel valued and important. With each milestone of my life my Dad has been the first one in line cheering for me. Oh how dearly I love him. On the day I went to the temple for the first time, on my wedding day to Nathan, and when I had each of my children I was so happy, but I can tell you assuredly that my Dad was even more full of joy. His happiness was wrapped up in the righteous and beautiful parts of family life. For those who knew him we know of the most tender and spiritual man that he was, with a little bit of “jam” as he loved to call it.
Dad loved to dance, he loved nice clothes and always looked sharp. He had a huge assortment of jackets and sweaters much to my astonishment that he would ever want more. He enjoyed getting great deals at “The VAL” as he called it, you may know it as Value Village. He loved to golf, being on the golf course was pure heaven for Dad. He was a master at golfing and he was a much sought after teacher. Dad was a gifted coach, his basketball teams were highly successful and his teams became our extended family. Coaching gave Dad many special sons. He loved them all and followed their successes in life. He loved coaching and he was masterful at it.
My Dad was a nightmare to travel with. He would want to get going at the crack of dawn, which was usually when it was still dark outside. I was instructed many times that waking up before the dawn would allow us to pack the car, and “make good time” which was critical to him. We had to make good time, there was usually several minutes of grumpy before he’d break out the Neil Diamond tape and start singing “We’re coming to America!!” . We didn’t have alot of money growing up but our family took many many road trips. These would consist of Courtnee and I laying in the back seat with pillows and blankets and Brett being convinced by us to sit on the bump on the floor. Poor Brett, I’m so sorry, I love you!
Dad loved to surprise us, he brought home my first 5 speed bike and I loved that maroon colored bike so much because he picked it out for me. He brought home our first puppy when I was a child, a beautiful purebread white german shepard that we called Cylon (after Battlestar Gallactica). We had many dogs in our home, and my Dad was incredible at training them. He was so gifted with animals and they adored him, especially our Bailey my Dad’s Black lab and beloved companion.
Dad loved to watch western movies, and musicals. I sat with him watching many classic movies and music and grew my own love for them because of him. Gene Kelly, Johnny Mathis, Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, West Side Story, James Bond, and my first Daddy Daughter Date to see Cinderella were all gifts that Dad has given me.
I want to share with you something sacred to me. It’s an experince that my Dad had as young man, he had been making some mistakes and choices. One night, he told me that I came to him in a dream, a little girl with blonde hair curly hair and blue eyes. I told him that he was going to be my Daddy, that I would be his daughter, and that he needed to change his life. Dad changed his life. This story has always touched my heart, I believe that it happened. I believe that our family relationships can be never ending and eternal. I know that my life has been richly blessed by God because of the incredible parents that he allowed to be mine. My Dad was my champion and I will miss his influence and his arms around me. Now Dad is going ahead to prepare a place for our family, I can’t wait to embrace him again. I know that through the sealing power of God, he is my Dad and I am his daughter forever. This gives me great comfort and joy. I want to thank my sister Courtnee and my Brother Brett for allowing me the honor of sharing my own memories of Dad today, I know that they have many of their own memories which will be shared with Dad’s Grandchildren (Dylan, Joshua, Brigs, Noah, Lola, Justin, Andrew and Jayelle) throughout their lives. We are ever thankful for our Dad and how he lived what he believed and taught us continually by righteous example.
I would like to leave with you my testimony, I know where my Dad is and I know that we will reunite once more. I have love and complete faith in my Saviour Jesus Christ, he lives ever still and I know that he is mindful of my individual needs because he has carried me through many storms. I know with all of my heart that there was a great plan of happiness for mankind, and that our purpose is sure. I love my Heavenly Father and know that there is a grand design to our experience in this life. I am thankful for the way that I was raised and for the importance of Family and Faith which bless my life. There is nothing that has brought me more joy or happiness than my relationship with God, my Dad and I share that. I leave you with my love and gratitude for blessing our family with your support this day. In the name of my Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.