By Julie Anderson
My dad made a big difference in a lot of people's lives. And he would be very happy to see so many of his friends and family took the time to be here today. Thank you for coming.
I want to thank my brother Brad who is my new hero. He has spent years taking care of both our mom and dad but in the last few months he has devoted nearly every hour of every day helping my dad deal with his cancer.
I also want to thank my brother Mike. He and coach Matt Matsuura put together a wonderful hockey tribute called Howard's Hope. An event that allowed our dad to see his granddaughters Lyndsey and Emily play hockey. Something he had never seen. He told me he wanted to go out with a bang and because the event and a huge story in the newspaper he did indeed go out with a bang.
As for me, my dad's cancer gave us a chance to talk in a way we never had. We spent hours together and I learned things about my dad I never knew. Things that helped explain him. Things that made him even more special.
As many of you are aware, my dad grew up very poor. But he had dreams. I never knew he had managed to save $4,000 to go to college someday. He dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. My dad loved animals. Unfortunately his dream was derailed by the Korean Conflict.
I never knew my dad could sing. He can. One day during his illness he called me and asked me to get him a CD by Marty Robbins. One that had the song "Old El Paso." He said he was thinking about it and how it was more a story than a song. So off I went to the stores to find Marty Robbins. As I saw the one and only Marty Robbins in Target, I hoped like crazy it contained "Old El Paso. It did. Back at home I printed out the lyrics to the song, which is about a cowboy who dies for the love of a woman. That Friday night as soon as I arrived in Alexandria we played the song and he hummed along. Then I showed him I had printed the words. He turned off the music and in a sweet but weak voice, my dad sat at the kitchen table, surrounded by pill bottles, and sang the whole song on key not missing a beat. I sat awe struck. Seeing my dad in a way I never had before. I wondered if he had ever sang to my mom.
My mom was the love of my dad's life. That I knew, but I never knew the first words he ever said to her. One night I asked him to tell me the story of how he and mom met. It was a story I had heard her tell but never thought to ask him. He relayed how a different woman was kind of following him around during a golf outing being held at a catholic group called the Dominique
Club. He said he had seen mom dance, thought she was beautiful and thought she kind of like him. So he grabbed her arm that July day and said, “Come on let’s you and me go golf.”
It was the beginning of a 50-year relationship. A relationship my mom wrote about in a Mother-Daughter book she had given me. I knew my dad had never read what she wrote so one night I got up the courage to show him. Through tears he read how she described him as a lot like her own father. Hardworking and dependable. Those two words best sum up our dad. Hardworking and dependable. A man who was able to provide a safe and loving home for his family.
Rest in peace Dad.