by Chris Hill
I think I speak for everyone in the family when I say that this is overwhelming, and we are truly blessed by your presence here today. I don’t intend to tell any specific stories about Dad. You probably already know them all, and you may or may not know that although each story contains an element of truth, they are for the most part highly fictionalized. I just wanted to share a few of the salient messages that rang through to me from the way he lived his life.
1. As a young boy I found out that “oral surgeon” is different, perhaps even better than “dentist”, and it is proper to correct people on this point for the sake of accuracy.
2. By observing Dad, we discovered that being a man means that you are on friendly terms with everybody…..I mean EVERYBODY, no exceptions. If it is true that in a perfect world, one would have no enemies, then Dad lived in that world. During the last 10 years of his life, he stopped trying to remember names, and if he encountered somebody who recognized him in public, he would just wave and say, “Hi friend”. I know because he used this strategy with me a couple of times. OK, not really, he knew who I was.
3. Even if you have no enemies, frustrations are inevitable in life and it is important to vent one’s frustrations. Verbal and/or physical abuse is OK as long as it is directed at inanimate objects, such as a lawnmower, a golf club, a steering wheel, or occasionally a telephone. It is never, ever OK, however, to demonstrate aggression towards a person.
4. It’s OK for a man to cry during times of sadness or loss and even during relatively lame, made-for-TV, based on true story football movies about the life of Brian Piccolo. And if you cry every year when this movie comes on, it helps your family know that you have a soft heart.
5. It doesn’t matter what car you drive as long as it is the only one of its kind in town and difficult to get into and out of. Additionally, if your car has a fancy emblem or flag on it, it will be easier to find in the parking lot.
6. It is much more satisfying to entertain those around you than to exert control or wield power over people. Further, it’s OK, even good, to be the butt of a joke if it enhances the collective morale of a group.
7. It is important to honor your mother and father (or in his case, your older brother who was like a father to you). It is even more important to honor and uphold your wedding vows.
8. Hard work, whether in the office or in the yard, is to be relished and performed to the point of exhaustion for maximum enjoyment. It should then be followed by intense play.
9. To achieve richness in life, it is better to accumulate experiences with loved ones than to gather wealth.
10. Gratitude is a much better approach to old age than bitterness.
11. And finally, if he said it to me once, he said it a thousand times – “Son, if you’re gonna do something, do it RIGHT”. Well, judging from the outpouring of love that we’ve felt in the past 3 days, I’d say that he did a few things right. Can I get an “amen” on that! (“AMEN”) Wow, that felt good.
Lord, I pray that you would rain down peace and comfort on Cece in the coming weeks and months, and, for the rest of the Hill family, I ask that you help us to conduct our lives in a manner worthy of the legacy that Papa Elmore has passed to us. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen. Thank you.