I delivered Mom’s Eulogy Sunday, April 30, 2017. Not easy — I find writing emotion-rich text far easier than an oral delivery. I choked and labored. After the service, my sister Leslie handed me an envelope Mom had saved. In it I found my February 13, 1995 farewell message to Dad, telling him things I would have struggled to speak without sobbing. I had not read those words in 22 years. They spoke some of the same sentiments I shared with Mom just recently. I offer excerpts of my letter to Dad to you now as a reminder to you and me of how deeply Nature is embedded in my soul… and has been for decades:
I want to let you know now what a positive influence you have been in shaping my life. First, there is no question that my love of the outdoors is rooted in our countless hours of fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping. I’ve actually made it my life’s work. Those experiences of youth along the river and in the woods led me to a field where I can combine my love of the outdoors with making a living. Now, I enjoy my job so much that my work is also my hobby, thanks in no small way to those hours you spent with me.
Second, I’m still crazy about the weather. I think you are entirely responsible for that. I can still remember clearly as a small child, standing with you at a street light somewhere near Pennsylvania Avenue (in Cumberland, MD), watching the sheets of snow whip past the circle of light. And I bet no one enjoys a good summertime thunderstorm any more than I do. I can remember watching and enjoying hundreds of storms with you whether from the porch at Boone Street, along the river, or holding the poles to keep the tent from blowing away!
My letter included a lot more, including my prayer that he get well and make many more memories with me. That was not to be. As I said in Mom’s Eulogy, Dad visits me yet, when the Great Blue Heron makes an appearance. He and Mom live on through me, our children, theirs, and hence, on and on.
Dad and Mom’s impressions on me are indelible, and I am eternally grateful. I dedicate my life now to championing the cause of Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading, sowing seeds for responsible Earth stewardship. I want to leave lasting and powerful impressions on others… through Great Blue Heron, LLC and via my writing and speaking engagements.
I pledge to be worthy of the love Mom and Dad gave to me, and promise to return dividends on the Nature seeds they sowed.
The photo is of me sharing Nature’s beauty, magic, wonder, and awe with grandsons Jack and Sam at nearby Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge last fall.