This is what I read at my dad’s funeral this morning. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. We filmed the entire service, which I will post once we go through the tapes.
There’s a great quote by the Buddhist Philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda that states, “To die well, one must have lived well. For those who have lived true to their convictions, who have worked to bring happiness to others, death can come as a comforting rest, like the well-earned sleep that follows a day of enjoyable exertion.”
My dad was a fighter, and I’m not just talking about his battle with Pancreatic Cancer, though that was his ultimate battle. He helped people fight for a living. He helped equip people for their own battles in life, sharpening their minds and coping skills. He fought against injustice of every kind you could imagine. Racism, bigotry, sexual discrimination, religious intolerance, hate and ignorance were all battles he took on. Being raised by such a man I couldn’t help but join him in many of those battles along the way and as I got older I appreciated what a privilege and an honor it was to be in the presence of such a man.
Truth be told, I think he might be a little embarrassed by such an amazing service today, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating today and forever. I say celebrate because that’s what he would want. When we were talking about what his funeral service would be like, it actually crossed our minds to play some hip-hop over the PA. I even asked Mark about the possibility of a disco ball. I was kidding… Kind of. It wasn’t uncommon to see him driving around town in his Range Rover, windows down and music up. And I mean up. His love of music, openness and youthful spirit made him a favorite among my and my siblings’ friends. He was the cool dad. People trusted him because he felt safe. And he was. Because of that, he made friends with everyone. It might have been a friend I brought to the house or a guy sitting next to him on an airplane. He loved conversation and dialog.
Diasaku Ikeda wrote, “A Buddhist scripture states that “the voice does the Buddha’s work.” The voice has the power to convey one’s compassion for another. No matter how much you care, the sentiment alone will not communicate itself. When your feelings are conveyed in words, your voice will have the immense power to move another person’s heart.
His life embodied that very quote. He used words on a daily basis to help people, and did so with true compassion for his fellow human being. It was that compassion that made him a respected psychologist, an incredible parent and my personal hero. The way I choose to live my life, the kind of man that I strive to be, with all of my heart, is the kind of man he was. That’s how I honor my father. I made that decision long before he ever got sick.
Over the last couple of weeks especially, people have been asking ‘What can I do to help?’ I now have an answer for you. Live your life a little different from this point forward. Be a little more tolerant. Listen a little closer. Practice random acts of kindness. Rescue an animal from a shelter. Respect other people’s differences. And when in doubt, ask yourself, “What would Jay do?”