This is the memorial speech I prepared for tomorrow.
Insert my dad’s voice recorded from a voicemail he left my daughter, Raven. ” merry Christmas *singing we wish you a merry Christmas*, hey Raven, it’s grandpa.”That will be played prior to the rest of this memorial speech I am presenting.
My dad would call every holiday he felt good enough to do so with his cheery greeting in the early morning weither we had plans or not to get together that day.
Family is what dad lived for.
He spoke of his father Roy Blankenship with utmost respect. My sister and I were young when our grandfather, dad’s dad passed away but my father would talk about him frequently enough that I felt I knew him.
He took care of his mother during her last time here on earth, building her a bed to pass on in our spa room that had a magnificent mountain view through the glass windows everywhere that my dad had built himself.
He loved his parents and never once did I hear him speak ill of them. My specific memory of my grandparents is seeing my handsome white haired grandfather, whom my father looked much like, in his brown suede shoes walking from his wood shop to the house smoking his pipe, I loved that smell. Grandma was an incredible cook and the scent of cinnamon rolls cooking forever is burned into my nostrils because of her.
He learned wood working skills as he inherited his father’s wood tools. All of his woodworking is displayed next door at the reception. He gave away these magnificent carvings of bears, owls, wolves, lamps what have you, as gifts. He made stools to sit on, cradles for their dolls , trucks for the boys, each piece with their names inscribed on them carefully, given to all the grandchildren at a young age. Now cherished items.
He also learned to love nature and incorporate that into his spirituality from his dad. He and his mom were similar in personality ( stubborn, but there isn’t one of us in our family who isn’t), it seemed to me and very close. I remember them arguing over every bill and who was going to pay. She passed a month before my daughter Raven was born and I gave her my grandmother’s name, my dad’s mother, Jessie, for her middle name.
Dad was very close to Sharon (Aunt Sherry) his sister, older by 7 years. They talked frequently on the phone and made a lot of efforts to see each other cross country as she lives in Texas currently but has lived in Chicago and other states. He valued her opinion so much. They loved each and accepted and supported each other. I respect their relationship so much. Mom and Dad did however, go visit his sister Sherry very recently. She married my uncle Terry when she was 16! Terry was a big influence on my Dad, due to the age difference. They did a lot of things together and were very close and my Dad looked up to him. My aunt and uncle have two children Kirk and Kelly. My Dad enjoyed spending time with them and watching them grow as he did not have my sister and I for another decade.
My father was a great story teller. He told us all about our great grandparents and their family get together s for holidays and such. Apparently we had some relatives who enjoyed drinking too much and would pass out at these gatherings but they would just step over them and keep celebrating.
Maybe that is where my passion to write is inherited from. Story telling and writing go hand in hand, with a pen and pad, or touch screen gadget device or laptop. When are they gonna realize that this whole computer thing is just a fad.
Our house was built on the side of a mountain, big horn sheep and mountain goats were frequent visitors to our hill side neighborhood. He would tell us stories around the rock fireplace that he had built with a blazing fire going illuminating the tree house above us.
Our tree house my Dad had built for us , complete with carpet and t.v. so many great memories with friends playing in this tree house, Raven having memories of playing kitchen in the tree house by grandpa’s side, when I was on bed rest with Chloe, my second child. My parents graciously let us live with them and helped with Raven during my pregnancy.
He would tell us stories about the man’s life that originally built our home under the starry sky. I was impressed to find out he made up all of those stories!
He told me about his shenanigans growing up with his cousins Rex, Rocky, and Pam. He was a bit of a handful as a teenager I’m told. I wonder where I got it from?
My Dad’s love of his children and grandchildren was evident in his terms of endearment. He called us “Hot Shots”. He would come to all 8 of his grandchildren’s sporting events, dance recitals, cheer leading performances, school things like singing performances and award ceremonies when he felt good enough and sometimes he forced himself to go when he really wasn’t capable. He always told them he loved them, was proud if them. He empathized with them when they made mistakes and tried to be an available support.
He was a generous man, always giving to my sister and I, and their grandchildren, as well as financially helping our children to play and participate activities and sports they wanted that my sister and I could not afford.
Dad’s love of nature cannot go unmentioned. He felt alive in the wilderness and the quiet solitude it gave him. I have that within me and I would say it’s in my sister, the mountains is our home. I love to hike, be outside in nature. My dad on one his spiritual quest/ survival adventures, and was sleeping under a log. A black bear walked on up and peed on him! He quickly came home.
My father would prepare us for our backpacking trips by weighing us and putting our body weight of rocks in our backpacking packs and we would walk up the “oh my god” road, which is a dirt, one lane ,sharp ,curved road. We would take backpacking trips as a family on his vacation time. I would complain the entire time. He loved it.
My Dad was tough as nails. I always knew if we were in danger he would protect us even if it meant losing his life. Being active and fit was so important to him. He always worked out! He had us do ‘Ride the Rockies’ twice, a bicycle tour accross Colorado. We bicycled across Iowa on Ragbrai. Always with friends. It was so fun. They taught us how to cross country ski, always rewarding us for making it with a big steak dinner in a restaurant in Dillon.
They got my sister and I involved in many activities; gymnastics, piano, a downhill skiing program. They showed up to every meet ,and mom even led our girl scout troop, dad gave his time to teaching bible classes at church and coached our baseball team.
We canoed to an island at Dillon lake, and camped , it had a private lagoon. My sister and I would paddle in. One adventure in the canoe happened on Yellowstone lake. The lake made the canoe dangerously start rocking because it was being tossed around by waves generated from a storm. He paddled like a crazy man and got us to safety.
We ran the boulder/boulder together! Dad and mom climbed all the fourteeners, and then some.
He coached our baseball team my sister and I played on. He would yell,” Shauna, slide”. I would scream,”not in these jeans”. He ran marathons. His health mattered so much to him, he taught me that discipline and outlet of exercise.
As we say goodbye ,the memories are too many to tell at this time. My dad made people feel welcome. He was authentic about it too. Always putting himself in other people’s shoes. A great example; My best friend since kindergarten knew my dad well. She is so grateful for my parents for allowing her to live with our family for a period of time. He was known for hugging people tightly and genuinely. He always was willing to give you the shirt off his back. I remember him slipping me cash during tough times I was in. Hugging me and saying,”I love you, sweetie”. His presence will be missed. For me I had Mondays with dad. We called each other on my day off. Those are discussions that I play in my head.
He wanted my sister and I to be independent, strong people. I feel he did that by his example. I am so proud to call him my father and I his daughter.
Rest in peace dad, we love you, we will miss you greatly. Our hope and peace come from knowing you are wrapped in the arms of our heavenly father. Who is nothing but loving you passionately. Your tears and pain removed, surrounded by friends. I in vision you laughing your genuine belly cough laugh as you catch up with your friends, soldiers, your dogs you loved so much. You even in your last days sought your faith. You studied the bible in every translation for hours on end. We know you are with God in his endless love You were a passionate man in whatever you did. You traveled the world by backpack, military service and in your R.v. You passionately fought for your country, you were determined to live for so long ,for us. You considered the impact on our lives and emotional states to not do this when we were too young. He made it to seventy and change. A huge blessing!
My final analogy is that;I am not a huge fan of the zoo. I know they have endangered animals they are protecting but for the animals that are not ,it feels wrong for them to be caged for my enjoyment.
My Dad was caged by medicine, no medicine, flashbacks, depression. His health was failing him. He didn’t understand the changing world anymore. He is free now.
He asked in his final letter that family and friends would help Mom now, with this huge sea change in her life.
My sister and I are honoring that and if you feel led a certain way to help out please let us know.
The Blankenship Family