(This is a repost from June 28, 2011. The original title was “How Donald Miller helped me write my dad’s eulogy”).
June 14, 2011 I was at a picnic lunch with people from work. I got a call from my sister. My dad was having a hard time breathing. He wanted a ride to the doctor. She called the ambulance. She was right. He went to the hospital. A touch of pneumonia. Some other stuff.
I packed up and left for Illinois.
My heart was troubled. My mom can’t be alone. She and dad needed each other, though, to be truthful, they couldn’t do a lot for each other. I knew we were headed for some significant decisions about places to live and kinds of care. I had a lot running through my head.
I was listening to music, the music that usually helps. And then I found a talk by Donald Miller, one from a book tour a couple years ago. He talked about rewriting the story that our life is telling. I’ve listened before. I’ve read the book. But something clicked as I listened. I started thinking about my parents, about the journey I was making, about what I could do when I arrived.
I tweeted: ”What if ‘honor your parents’ means for me ‘help them finish the story of their lives as well as they can.’?”
And then I started thinking about how to simply summarize the story that their lives have told.
I tweeted: “and his story is ‘i kept my word to take care of her’ and hers is ‘i kept my word to make people feel at home’”
It changed how I listened to my parents for the next few days. I was looking for the story they were telling with their lives.
But how does that relate to the title? Dad didn’t come out of the hospital. And for his eulogy, I simply told his story.