The following is an excerpt from the eulogy I shared on
Friday, September 22, 2017...
I sat down with Susie, Dawn and John and we talked about some of our memories of Dad. We talked of his love of sports, photography and travel. Of his love for and support of his grandkids in most any event. He loved people. And he loved to have fun. He was a phenomenally strong man.
Susie recalled his last visit to the hospital and how upon getting out of the hospital and looking toward his 85th birthday he did not want a party. Instead he had developed a bucket list. On that bucket list were five things:
- Watch grandson Isaac play his senior year of basketball
- See his grandson Max get married
- See granddaughter Joey get married
- See granddaughter Sophie graduate and put on that white coat
- And finally, to visit his family in LA again
He completed that list last month when he and Susie traveled to California, where his family includes his sisters Rachel Ortiz and Rosemary Aqurrie, his brother Ruben Lopez, and his sister-in-law Martha Lopez.
He loved photography, sports and travel and his beloved Susie. Thank you, Susie. For loving him. For making him happy. For sharing your life together. We are so grateful.
He was born December 28, 1931 in Sylmar, California. Manuel Arthur Lopez, Manuel, Arthur, Art, John, Johnny, Manny, Dad, Grandpa, and with Liam and Hugo now Great-Grandpa. A man of many names. Most recently we discovered that his nickname was Wimpy growing up. John and I were considering the consequences if either of us had the nerve to call him that.
Dad never liked to talk about his youth. From aunts and uncles we have heard stories of his athletic accomplishments. Boxing, Football, Softball. He was an amazing athlete. But he never spoke of it. It seemed the achievements of his youth were clouded with dark times as well. Those stories were not something for him to share or for us to know. We know some things. Dad and his siblings had a difficult childhood. Foster homes. Fatherlessness. Among other things. But they fought and escaped to be with and support one another. He, his brothers and sisters truly loved being with one another. Even last month as Dad was blessed to make that final trip to California. The pictures of them sitting together look like the pictures from 35 years ago. Right down to the beers in their hands.
The early part of our Dad’s life had tragic turns. Possibly more tragic than we will ever know. Eventually he left California and began a journey across Mexico, where he met my grandparents and became smitten with their eldest daughter. Thanks to that Mom we are all here.
A favorite writer of mine is fond of saying that God likes to draw straight with crooked lines.
In 1972, Dad and Mom purchased a house on a lot, about half of an acre, outside of town. Actually, it wasn’t really a house; it was a basement. He and my mom moved out of the city with three children. It was a nice little piece of land with wooded fields beside it, cornfields across the street, and orchards behind it. He clearly had a dream. And he was working hard to make it a reality.
He moved his family in, and he and Mom made the basement livable. Then he, along with some of you in this room, framed in a house with plans to finish it slowly. That house was meant to be finished in a few years and provide his family with a three-bedroom raised ranch on a nice piece of land. I spent many days playing upstairs among the framed but unfinished walls, imagining what our home would be like when complete. I suspect Dad did the same.
Over the course of the last forty years that house would undergo a lot of change. A lot of stress and turmoil.
It would be left unfinished.
It would eventually be left abandoned.
It would fall into ruin.
But God draws straight with crooked lines
Dad, anyone could look at that home as a failure. That a dream slipped away.
But God draws straight with crooked lines.
Dad wanted that home; that piece of land; that foundation for his family. To establish for them the foundation that he never had growing up. He wanted a foundation...so he bought one.
To the person who drives down Dickinson Road today the appearance of that house tells one story - but the reality is quite different.
Dad has three children. And in Wes, Karen, and Shelly we are blessed with wonderful marriages. Our children love one another and are so faithful to each other. We have exactly what Dad wanted for us. Dad was a fighter. I don’t know how he got us here. But here we are. Our families are built on what he gave us. Even if he wasn’t sure how to give it.
God has blessed our families.
A little property. A dilapidated home. Unfinished. Abandoned. Yet.
God draws straight with crooked lines.
Dad, thank you for what you did.
Thank you for what you tried.
We love you.
"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lam. 3:21–32).