My brother Mark was able to capture in much fewer words, who Dad was. This is what Mark shared at Dad´s memorial service.
Mark´s Memorial Letter
Dad’s life was one of service. Service to the community, to his church, to his kid’s and of course to Mom. At ISU, he was among the top three economists in the whole country for hog and cattle market futures.(Economist joke?)
After he retired from ISU his new job was to take care of Mom as her health began to fail. The way he took care of Mom, and all of us was phenomenal. His devotion and dedication was amazing. His life really was a life of service. Even after he passed, he still tried, to serve by donating organs so others might have a second chance in life.
He never asked much for himself nor could I get him to do so. Many times I admonished him to get things or do more for himself, but his answer was always the same, “You know, buying junk or doing things just for myself doesn’t make me any happier so why do it?”
And as a Dad he always kept a light touch. He never tried to push or drive us in a direction that he thought was right. He let us all choose our own path yet was always there when we stumbled on that path. When I compared him to other Dad’s of friends of mine I always thought, “Boy, did I get the better deal.”
Now Dad and I were different in that he was a scientist and I was more of a spiritualist. These paths seem diametrically opposed but in one thing there was always a constant.
Within the sphere of our respective paradigms I conducted myself the way that he had showed me. Basically, I just copied what he had taught me and applied it to my own path. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well I don’t see it as flattery, I just never found anyone who showed me a better way of doing things.
Dad just accepted us as were we even if he didn’t always understand.
I think that is what’s called unconditional Love.
But to my mind the most profound thing about him was this:
Dad didn’t believe in heaven or hell. He didn’t even believe in reincarnation, and the subsequent “law of Karma” where the upshot is “that if you screw up in this life then you get to come back the next life and fix it.”
He didn’t believe in any of those things which begs the question “Why be good?” Why spend your life doing the right thing?
There was no reward in the afterlife for being good, and there was no punishment for being bad. So why be good? Why do the right thing?
For him the answer was simple and really not scientific: You did the right thing just because it was the right thing.
And that to me is the purest form of “being” that there is.
And when you strip away all the human frailties and foibles that we all have, that was who Dad was.