Have you ever been to a funeral for a special person when, while listening to the first sentence of the beautiful eulogy, you realize you came without enough Kleenex? I found myself in this predicament, along with many other people with touched hearts who filled the pews. The funeral was to memorialize a man with an engaging smile that mirrored the natural kindness in his heart. He had a slew of endearing nicknames, but he was affectionately called “Poppy” by his family.
He was a childhood Raleigh friend of my mother’s and a golfing buddy of my uncle’s. Throughout my childhood, I heard about his kind nature and his charming smile. As fortunate fate would have it, his son married one of my closest Meredith College friends.
It has been a wonderful continuation of being able to hear even more stories about Poppy throughout the years. His son is the one whose eulogy caused the waterfall of tears—good, sweet tears. His words were the kind that take the direct route to your soul and usurp your heart in the process.
His son began the first powerful sentence saying, “A special thanks to all of you for taking the time to come and share in our grief, but also in our joy in knowing that Dad is doing well with his new citizenship papers.” (This is the moment the hunt began for more Kleenex.)
He continued telling of his dad’s accolades saying, “Dad was always the encourager urging us to do the best we could at whatever task at hand. Dad was not shy about giving solid Bible-based advice and encouragement to anybody who he met who would listen. He was a true people person and always interested in conversing with others to get to know them. The Word was his source of strength and he regularly read from Scripture at our family dinners and all of our holidays, serving as an example of the kind of men and women we should aspire to become. One of my neighbors told me a few days ago that my dad was a cheerleader for him and it is true. But then he cheered for everybody. Poppy had the great gift of knowing how to help people believe in themselves. He had a love for the game of golf, and he dedicated his time to helping young players on the golf course. He would show support by showing up in a cart on the course at their matches or meeting with them on the practice tee or putting green to offer golfing tips. He was their cheerleader—their fan, along with being the fan for many others.”
For a time, Poppy’s family used to ask their dad after a day of golf, “Dad how did you play today?”He would go into a slow, lengthy shot by shot story from the first hold working up to the 18th. They learned to stop asking. They decided to simply ask him what he shot or what his score was in hopes of a more concise answer—didn’t work either. He would say, “Well…I shot a 71, but I had a chance to shoot a 66…but on the 4th hole, I lipped out a putt and made a bogey” and on and on…There was obviously no simple quick answer.
The moment for even more Kleenex was when his son said, “What I would give to listen to Dad describe a full day of golf– hole by hole and stroke by stroke once again.”
He profoundly closed by saying, ‘My dad’s challenge to all of us would be to do a bit of self-examination. Ask yourselves, “Whose fan am I” Do I make the time to encourage anyone on a regular basis?…my wife?…my husband?…or a friend? If not, the life our dad led might challenge you to find someone today who needs encouragement, so you may become their biggest fan!”
This is the life story of a kind man with a charming smile who touched the lives of others with his encouragement, as their top fan…most certainly a life well-lived!
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