Remembering my father

(This is the text of my comments at my father’s funeral on April 24, 2008 in Bellingham, Massachusetts)

My earliest memory of my dad is of walking down the path next to our garden. It was very early on a foggy morning, and I was so tiny that I remember him looming up in front of me like a giant. Undoubtedly, he was heading off to do some sort of chores.

The entire time I knew my dad, he seemed to be working, and I know that he loved to work. When he wasn’t at the foundry, fixing things or making things, he was at home, working with plants in the garden, fixing something around the house, or chopping wood. He loved growing things, and I remember a picture of him in front of some rental house when he was probably in his early 20s; he was posing in front of a little patch of corn he had planted. He grew food for us and he grew flowers and planted trees. My dad also always loved animals, and had cats and chickens and ducks and geese and goats and turkeys and dogs and guinea hens and more cats.

My dad worked with his hands his entire life, and he expressed his skill and intelligence through his hands, which were incredibly strong. He would take apart a machine and fix it with no thought that he didn’t know how to do the work. He had incredible focus, and when he started something, that was the only thing he thought of until the work was done.

I think of his hands whenever I remember him; I remember how they seemed always to be lined with black from the foundry, and how crazy his thumbs looked, which were the biggest thumbs I ever saw on a person!

Whenever I visited my dad, he seemed to be laughing about something, and my memories of his later life are filled with his smiles and laughter.

My dad built things all of his life. While he never made something “to be remembered by,” because of who he was, and because of the way he was always helping people and working all the time, what he built was a set of enduring memories in the people who knew him. If you ever want something to remember my dad by, just visit with someone who knew him, because he is reflected in the good things they remember about him.

If you ever want to memorialize my dad, just plant something, build something, help a stranger, fix dinner and have friends over to laugh about some silly thing. Rescue a cat and take good care of it, or just go help a friend with some chores in their yard, because that is what he would have done if he was still here.

In Loving Memory of My Father, Milford J. Lavin, Sr.