My wife, Rosalie, lost her dad,
Jeff Gillum,on January 20, 2003, after a long bout with Alzheimers. Shortly after his death Rose wrote the following tribute to her dad which was read at his funeral service. I believe it will be an inspiration to you.
Jeff Jr. related the following story: "One day Dad really impressed me. My mare got out of the pasture and ran over to the adjoining farm. Dad went with me to catch the horse. After quite a chase, we were able to corner her, but found ourselves without a rope. Dad saw a piece of electrical wire tangled in a fence. He took the wire and immediately fashioned it into a bridle, put it on the horse and then climbed on its back. He rode at a full gallop all the way home. To this day, I don't know if Dad was really that great a horseman, or if he just couldn't get that silly horse to slow down."
I have many fond memories of growing up on the farm. I don't think any child could have had a better childhood than I had. Our family loved each other. Dad was a devoted husband and father. He loved his family with all his heart. In our house love was not a word that was easily spoken, but it was practiced constantly every day of our lives.
Jeff's grandchildren were the joy of his life. He loved doting on each of them. They knew Grandpa was there when they needed him, and together they made many lasting memories. He made sure they always had a pony to ride, and they learned to drive the tractor and pickup under his careful supervision.
Next to family, Dad loved his cows. Anyone who spent any time around him knew his love for the outdoors, the solitude of the country, and his cattle. The old Agrarian Myth that farmers are somehow closer to God because they are in tune with nature would certainly be argued by my Dad.
Dad could build or repair just about anything. He was extremely resourceful and intelligent. He learned from experience and careful observation. He seemed to thrive on life's challenges. When many would throw up their hands and quit, Dad kept on until he succeeded.
He was a quiet man with a great sense of humor. No matter what happened we learned to laugh at our many misadventures. Dad was always asking Jr. to hit something while he held it. More times than not, Dad was the one that was hit, not the nail or intended target. Jr. always laughed, then Dad laughed, and there was constant teasing and joking. Throw Mom in and the trio became as comical as the antics of the Keystone Cops, Laurel and Hardy, or the Three Stooges. Looking back, it's a wonder Dad made it to age 80 considering many of these misadventures involved authomobiles, tractors, and machinery. Poor Dad was always getting bumped or hit with something; and try as he may, no one ever followed his directions. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and I believe it because we seldom needed medicine, but we always had plenty of laughter.
If you asked Dad what his greatest accomplishment in life was, he would answer, "My children." Many men measure their success by the size of their bank account, their possessions, or social standing. Dad measured his success by how well he had instilled good values and work ethic into his children. He truly believed the "Golden Rule" and made it a way of life. Many times I have seen my Dad tired from a long, hard day's work reach out a helping hand to a friend, neighbor, or stranger in need. What he had he was willing to share with others, especially children. He had a very special love for children. In the past few years I have watched him reap rewards for his labor. As his health declined, neighbors were there to lend a helping hand to Dad. They helped round up cows, fix fence, fight fires, and look after many little things that he could no longer do. One day in pariticular, I remember getting a call at work that the farm was on fire. I rushed to help Mom and Dad, but when I arrived, I could hardly get to the house for all the cars lined up and down the road. People from all over had come to help. I'm still amazed at the number of people who turned out to help this man who had spent his life helping others.
As a child I knew I could always depend on Dad. I had such confidence and trust that he would be there to take care of me. He never let me down, not once. I remember one night when I was in my teens, a bad storm suddenly came through and overturned my Grandmother's mobile home that was sitting beside Mom and Dad's house. Grandma and I were standing in the midst of the rubble in the pouring rain. She was wanting me to help her find the way out of the wreckage, and I just told her to sit still and wait for Dad. I did not doubt for one instant that he would come. I knew how much he loved me, and nothing could keep him from me. That kind of love comes from only one source, God. Dad was not what you would call a deeply religious man - he was a spiritual man. What he did in life was not for the approval of man or self-glory, but out of pure love.
As I was sorting through some of his personal possessions recently I noticed a scriputre that he had underlined in James, Chapter 2. Truly this describes his life and beliefs, that men should be treated equally and fairly regardless of their position in life. This was the cornerstone of Dad's philosophy.