Below is the eulogy that I gave at my father’s burial service on October 1, 2003, in my home town of Martinsville, VA.
My father won’t have any buildings or roads named after him. But if we measure a man’s success from where he started to where he finished, my father was a very successful man.
I’d like to tell a story. On Christmas day 2001, my sister Joyce gave my sister Billie and I a gift of a photo of my father when he was a little boy. It is the only photo from his childhood we’ve ever seen. He was about twelve years old, standing in front of a unpainted clapboard shack. It was his home. His father was an alcoholic who abandoned the family during the depression, leaving his mother to raise seven children with no financial support. My father never spoke of his father.
At Christmas dinner, I asked my father what he got for Christmas when he was a boy. He said, “we always got a good meal for Christmas.”
From that beginning, my father — along with my mother Ruth — created the wonderful home at 2 Hampstead Place. He worked hard to provide his children with so much he never had. He put all three of us through college.
If I look at my father in the light of where he started and what he accomplished in his life, he was a very successful man.
Here’s the photo that Joyce found. (My father is on the right; his younger brother is in the center and his sister Nellie is on the left. In the back is a cousin who was visiting.) Every picture tells a story and this one tells me so much about my father’s childhood (which he was very reluctant to discuss). If I had really understood how he grew up and the implications of that experience, I would have appreciated his success more and forgiven his mistakes more readily.
Related Link: Hampstead Place Renamed to Myers Place