A Eulogy for My Dad
My dad, Al Manning, passed away on December 11, 2021, after a three-week battle with Covid pneumonia. A GoFundMe was started for my family here and a link to watch the December 19 service is here.
This week I’ve thought back on many small moments special to me & my dad, and am realizing that memory itself has always been this gathering of small, peculiar things. My dad said to me often, “be faithful in the little things.” He usually told me this from his black swivel chair in his upstairs office.
I remember when I was in high school, after some rough patches with my sisters, he would call me up to his office for a talk. He encouraged me to be a kind older sister and leave a legacy of compassion. During college when I lived at home, I’d sit in the red striped living room chair each morning to read my Bible. I’d hear my dad walk into his office to read his Bible, too, or overhear the day’s first SOOP Café phone calls. Fridays were for blasting his trumpet or us almost blowing out his speakers to “Carry on My Wayward Son.” And then I’d grab my keys to head to class, and later to my first real job—he would always race downstairs to catch me for a quick goodbye. On cold winter mornings, I heard him starting my car for me. And any morning was a reason for him to stand on the outside front steps, coffee mug in hand, and wave into the distance until my car rounded 29th Avenue.
I’m realizing that these small moments were my dad’s way of saying he cared so much. He loved making a big deal about small things and creating spaces where I felt safe and known.
One of my favorite moments in my dad’s office was one where I wasn’t actually there. The night Jon & I started officially dating, I asked him how his earlier “talk” went with my dad. He said, “Well, we watched clips of Meet the Parents and he handed me a set of camp paper dolls.” Jon and my dad were instant buddies. That day I knew, in a way, that I wanted Jon to be the one caring for me, like my dad did for so many years. It’s because of my dad that I felt brave enough last year to start freelance grants consulting. I’m going to miss talking to him about house projects, being brave in a new town, and our Pit Boss smoker that he was so proud of.
I’m trying to make sense of a life without my dad. And as a person of faith, finding a spiritual safe place where I can cry with Jesus about how Covid took my dad, and how God, in his compassion, will make all things new. This lyric, from the song “Little Things with Great Love,” has been refuge, it says,
In the kingdom of the heavens, no suff’ring is unknown; each tear that falls is holy, each breaking heart a throne. There is a song of beauty on ev’ry weeping eye — for there is One who loves me: His heart, it breaks with mine.
This with-ness is dear to me. The God my dad believed in, by whom he is finally, fully known, is in this December fog, walking with us into our unknowns where we might feel the small, faithful clarity of his grace.