Home > Uncategorized > A Eulogy For Dad

A Eulogy For Dad

(My dad, Coy Dikes, passed away in his sleep on May 11, 2011.  We held a memorial service for him on Sunday, May 15, 2011.  What follows is the eulogy that I gave about him at that service.)

On behalf of my brothers, my son, and the rest of the family, I would like to thank you for being here with us today.  We have appreciated your phone calls, your texts, your emails, and all the other ways you have communicated your care and concern to us.  Thank you.

I will do my best to get through this without breaking down and in order to do this I may not be able to look at any of you as I do this.  I will be a little-light hearted at times, and that’s as much for me to be able to get through this.

For those of you who don’t know, I am his oldest son, Chris.  The minister son.  If you’re expecting a sermon, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  If you were hoping there wouldn’t be a sermon, you’re in luck.  My dad didn’t go to church, and knowing him, he probably wouldn’t have even wanted this service.  If there were going to be a service, he definitely wouldn’t have wanted a sermon preached.  The only way that I could get him to listen to one of my sermons was to tell him that I had told a story about him.  Then he would listen to it on iTunes or the internet.  When he had finished listening to it, he would call me and tell me how I had supposedly gotten the story wrong.

Dad didn’t talk about his childhood much, but we gather that he moved around quite a bit.  This probably explains why in the last 30 years he lived in only two locations:  the house on Oxford Drive in San Antonio and the house in Leander.

He married, divorced, had two children, myself and Jason, Rob whom he considered his own son, and a grandchild that he loved dearly.  This past Easter, he sent a check to Samuel, his grandson, for Easter, and my first thought was “I never got a check for Easter when I was growing up.”

When you think of my Dad, there are a number of pictures that come to mind:  the house at 102 Oxford Drive where he lived for many years, Lucky Strike cigarettes, black t-shirts, that Chryler Cordoba that he drove for over twenty years, NASCAR, flip-flops which were his preferred shoes away from work, and Twinkies.

I didn’t know that he liked Twinkies until Samuel was born, but after that whenever he showed up he always had a box of Twinkies with him.

At first glance, he didn’t appear to be a man of many words.  He usually didn’t call you.  He didn’t send letters or emails that often, but when he did they would go for pages.  And when you did get him on the phone, he would talk and talk and talk and talk.

This afternoon, I want to share with you some of our experiences.

Predictable and routine are words that come to mind.  I didn’t need to wear a watch when living with Dad, because I could always tell what time it was or what day of the week it was by what he was doing.

He got up at the same time every day, he left for work at the same time, he came home from work at the same time, and he went to bed every night at the same time, just after the weather.  On Saturdays at 8 am, he went to the grocery store.

You could tell what day of the week it was by what we were having for dinner.  We had the same exact meal every Monday, every Tuesday, every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  On Sundays, he liked to mix it up and cook his big meal of the week.

As an example, every single Thursday night we had the following meal:  frozen fried chicken, ore-ida crinkled french fries, and jalapenos.  I think the jalapenos were to make sure that we had a vegetable with our meal.

If were were just visiting for the weekend, then on Friday night we would have El Patio Mexican dinners while Jason watched The Dukes Of Hazard on TV.

But I learned a great deal from my dad.

He could be stubborn, perhaps pig-headed might be a better description.  He had his way of doing things and he had no desire to change.  This could be an endearing quality at times as well as frustrating quality.

I remember visiting him years ago during one of his frequent hospital stays.  The family along with the doctor had all been hounding him to quit smoking, start exercising, and change his diet.  Or to at least do one of the three.  A nutritionist stopped by the room on the orders of the doctor to talk to him about his diet.

I couldn’t have picked a better time to be there.

“Mr. Dikes,” she began, “what is a typical breakfast?”

I leaned forward because I wanted to hear if he would tell her the truth or not.  I had grown up with him so I knew what the answer would be.  I suspect that if I had not been there, he would’ve made up some story about egg whites, turkey bacon, oatmeal, and fruit.

I smiled from ear to ear as I awaited a response.

I had never seen his squirm in a chair like this.

The truth finally came out.

“A couple of Oreos and a glass of iced tea.”  He paused for a moment.  “And maybe some yogurt.”

Now, I know my Dad, and the only reason he would’ve eaten that yogurt is if his Oreos had gone stale and he’d crushed them up in that yogurt.

The point being, that to a certain extent, he really didn’t care what you thought.  He was going to do what he wanted to do.  If he wanted to have Oreos and Iced Tea for breakfast that is what he was going to do.  If he only wanted to get a haircut once a year, he was only going to get a haircut once a year.  I particularly enjoyed going with him to family events and hearing people tell him that he needed a haircut.

He was who he was.  He knew what he enjoyed and as long as it didn’t hurt anyone that’s what he was going to do.  So he liked his hair long, having a beard, wearing black t-shirts, walking in flip flops, and watching NASCAR races.  We know that he liked the musical group Boston and their album, Don’t Look Back.  We know this because in going through his things we found the 8-track, the LP, the cassette tape, and the CD.

But he was willing to explore new things.  Occasionally.

When I was in the second grade, my parents thought I should be involved in sports so I got signed up for every single sport- football, basketball, baseball, and soccer.  This being 1976, people didn’t know much about playing soccer, much less coaching soccer.  Somehow, Dad got roped into being our coach.

Our team was so bad that even the some of the parents of the kids quit coming to the games.

We didn’t score a goal all season long.

At some point during the season, we had played a team that actually knew what they were doing.  What I am about to tell you is not a mis-speak or an exaggeration in any way.  This was the actual score.  We lost the game by the score of 32-0.  They scored 32 goals and we scored 0.

After the game, Dad gathered all of us second graders around for a team huddle.  He looked at every one of us and then he said these words that I have never ever forgotten.  “When your parents ask how the game went, tell them we lost 3-0.”

This is my Dad imploring a bunch of second graders to lie to their parents.

But my father didn’t give up.  Well, he did give up on coaching soccer after the season, but not on coaching.

One of his most treasured memories turned out to be coaching football at the YMCA.  He volunteered to coach a flag football team full of first graders.  Not one of his own children were on the team.  Not a single neighbor kid was on the team.  He just went down to the YMCA and signed up to coach.  He started with that team in the first grade and stayed with them all the way through the sixth grade.  Years later, he still kept in contact with as many of those kids as possible.

When we were going through some of his things, we found 2 books from the San Antonio Public Library that he’d checked out some thirty years ago on coaching football.

He did not want us to give up.  He wanted us to find something we enjoyed and stick with it.

One thing he tried to instill in us, and this took a great deal of work, was his giving nature.  We didn’t have much growing up, but whatever we had, he was always willing to give it away.  That was a tough lesson for us to learn, but a valuable one.

He could often be found mowing a neighbor’s yard or working on someone’s car for them.  And when he did so, he expected nothing in return.  In fact, he wanted nothing.  If someone tried to give him something, like money or even to pay for the car parts, he adamantly refused.

In junior high, we really wanted an Atari 2600 video game.  As much as we asked for it, the answer was always “No, we don’t have the money for that.”

One day, a neighbor knocked on the door.  This is the same neighbor whose yard he had been mowing for years and he had always refused anything she offered.  She stood there at the front door holding in her hands an Atari 2600, newly purchased and still in the box.

“I thought your boys might like this,” she said.  “I wanted to do something to thank you for mowing my yard.”

We couldn’t believe it.  We would finally have an Atari 2600.  Space Invaders, Basketball, and all those other games.

But then we couldn’t believe the words that came out of his mouth.

“I really can’t accept that.”

He almost had a mutiny on his hands that day.  How could he pass up the greatest gift that anyone could give to a couple of boys?  A free Atari 2600!  Are you kidding me?

They went back and forth for a few minutes, before he finally relented.  I think he found someone more stubborn and pig-headed than him.  Also, she probably saw us jumping up and down behind him trying to get by him or knock him out of the way to get that box out of her hands.

Jason and I so greatly appreciated that we were able to benefit from his years of mowing her yard.

And he could be generous with total strangers.  Early in life, if we went out to eat, it was something like Church’s Chicken or Little Caesars.  But later, after we had grown up, we might go to an actual restaurant and for a time he insisted on paying the bill.  When I saw the tip he was leaving, I couldn’t believe it.

“Dad, that’s way too much,” I told him.  It was almost as much as the bill.

“It’s Christmas.  I’m just being generous.”

We had an elderly neighbor who lived across the street us on Oxford Drive.  She asked me to come over and mow her yard one day, which I did.  After that, she then asked me to climb on her roof and and brush the leaves off of her patio cover.  This eighty year old woman insisted on holding the ladder for me as I climbed onto this shaky patio cover, which wasn’t that secure to begin with.  After that, she found chore after chore after chore for me to do.  When I had finally finished, she went inside and returned with my payment, six dollars.  Apparently, I should’ve negotiated payment for my services prior to engaging in the work not after I’d completed the job.

When I got home, Dad asked how it had gone and what she had needed me to do.

“Did she pay you?”

“Yeah,” I answered.

He shook his head.  “You shouldn’t have taken the money.”

I replied back, “It was six dollars.”

We went back and forth and finally I think I told him that next time she wanted somebody to go climb on her roof while she held the ladder he could do it.  In the future, any time I did yard work for a neighbor, I tried to do it when he wasn’t around.

Even though we didn’t have much, he wanted us to learn to be generous.  I’ve come to understand this about him, appreciate this about him, and even attempt to be like him.  I probably still have a long way to become as generous as he was.

He also wanted us to learn to be self-sufficient and be able to take care of ourselves.  We joke about how he gave to others, but he rarely seemed to give to us.  When I would come home from college in Abilene, he would make sure to give me $5 for gas money.  Now I know I was driving a dodge colt at the time and gasoline was $1 per gallon, but $5 was only going to get me halfway there.

When Jason moved into an apartment in college, Dad gave him a one time stocking up:  a jar of peanut butter, a box of Fruit Loops, and a 12 pack of toilet paper.

He wanted us to learn how to work on our cars.  Whenever they broke down, this meant a morning or an afternoon or a day standing outside next to the car watching him fix it.  I think we were supposed to be learning how to work on our car.  I absolutely dreaded it when my car broke down.  I wasn’t as upset that the car had broken as much as I was upset that I knew this meant he was going to try to show me something that I had no interest in learning.

A few weeks ago, I called him with a question about something at my house that had broken.  I usually called him when something broke just to make sure that what someone else was telling me was accurate.  A couple of years before he had sent me a book, THE DO IT YOURSELF HOME REPAIR MANUAL.

I explained the problem to him and his response was, “Didn’t I send you that book on home repairs?”

I’m 41 and he was still trying to get me to be independent and self-sufficient.

He probably wouldn’t tell you he loved you or that he was proud of you.  If he did so, it was usually in a card or a letter.

But he demonstrated his love for his family through his actions.  He might not have been able to pay for college or to send us off with lots of resources at school, but come your birthday or Christmas, he went overboard.  That was the time of year that he wanted to let you know that you meant something to him.

And whatever he had done for us growing up as kids, multiply that by 10 for his grandson.

For me, the defining picture of his love is not his fixing things or buying birthday and christmas presents or cooking dinner.  This defining mark is how he took Rob into the family.  He didn’t merely accept him, he embraced him and treated him like Jason and I.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but that’s how he got treated.

He fed him, he clothed him, he worked on his cars, although I’m not sure he spanked him.  In fact, I think Jason was the only one who ever got spanked.  But in my dad’s mind, my brother Rob was as much a son to him as Jason and I.  I know it meant the world to Rob and it meant the world to us as well.

I am different from my dad.  I can’t stand flip-flops and sandals.  I certainly don’t smoke.  I get bored watching NASCAR.  I open the hood of the car and I see a maze of things that make no sense to me.  When it breaks down, I’m hopeless.  I have four tools at home- a screwdriver, the other kind of screwdriver, a crescent wrench, and a hammer.  Even with that plethora of tools, I still can’t fix the stuff that breaks around the house.

Despite our differences, despite our own unique traits and characteristics, our different interests, we are the same.  I can look at a picture of myself with my Dad and see the same facial features.  He is my Dad and I am his son.

I am a far richer person for him being my father.  He didn’t leave us a million dollars, and if he did so we haven’t been able to find it.

But he left us a richer life.

He left us a life that money can’t buy.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

    What a beautiful and honoring eulogy. I’m sure everyone was blessed by it.

  2. David Winchester
    May 17, 2011 at 8:43 am

    As you painted the picture of your father through memories I realized how blessed I am to know your fathers son.
    Thank you for sharing Chris.

  3. Laura
    May 17, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Chris, you did an amazing job at the service on Sunday. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house, and yet your words allowed us to laugh through our tears as we remembered what an amazing, wonderful man Coy was. Praying for your family, asking God to give you peace and comfort, and that you will always have your memories to keep your dad close in spirit.

  4. Nancy Wilkerson
    May 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Chris – you did a great job. I’m just a little older that Coy and when we were young, we played together a lot. Our families got together for all kind of family occasions. Loved him!!!!

  5. Kelly Carroll
    May 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Please accept our condolences on the loss of your father. The eulogy you gave was wonderful and it’s obvious your father was a special person.

  6. Dorothy Harrell
    May 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    You have such amazing strength to have given this eulogy. You taught me things about my cousin that I didn’t know. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. We laughed with you and we cried with you. I am very grateful that I was able to know your Dad as an adult. He was a really kind man. It is nice to know you have sooo many wonderful memories to cherish.

  7. matt wooley
    May 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    you know its amazing how i (we) you know who you are,get caught up in life chasing what is percieved to be treasure. i remember many a time bieng at the river and bieng around him growing up though we did not see each other ofter mr. Dikes always friended me as a youngster and was gooood to me at the river. i know my DAD thought the world of him and to me thats all that matters. in the last twenty years i have not seen coy except one or two times. this my family is a shame!! i vow today that we i us will start the tradition again of an annual reunion again this year as doug dikes had for our familys every year as i grew up. it sticks in my mind because i remember how meaningful it was to me.it was how i got to know alot of my family and my kids are getting cheated. WE AS A FAMILY must not allow fortune or mis fortune keep us from sharing the incredible family that not many in this world are blessed to have. i will take the responsibility of arrainging this annually for our family . please email or call me @ 214 459 7207 214 6509059 or matt.wooley@yahoo.com with any suggestions comments or weekends that dont work for you and yours lets work it out… thanks to the fishers for the many reunions that they put on for us all.i miss my dad he was the greatest men i will ever know.to the dikes family i love yall and feel pain coy dikes was a great man may his legacy live in our hearts forever.love yall

  8. May 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Chris,

    You wrote beautiful words to honor a man that was clearly wonderful. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your grief with us this morning. It is always comforting to hear such honesty and sincerity from a leader.

  9. June 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Chris,

    Just came across this post and found myself right back at the service for Coy. Your father was a wonderful, kind, and giving man…but you already know that. Your eulogy was so heartfelt and sincere that we all felt closer to the man that we loved. I’m glad that Martin and I had the pleasure of giving Coy a place to stay while he had work in the Houston area in 1976. He stayed with us during the weeks and made trips back to San Antonio on the weekends to be with “his boys”. Y’all were always his priority, always his heart. Through your words, I realize that he may not have always told you, but he was extremely proud of the men you all have become and never held back from telling us so. We were all Blessed to have Coy in our lives…..Loved him!

    • June 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks so much for your words and thoughts. Again, thanks for coming to the service.

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