Last night we celebrated the life of a great man and I was privileged to be able to speak about him. Some of you who loved him weren’t there and I wanted to share it with you because, in my mind, these are more his words, than mine. I have no doubt these are what he wanted to say to you all!
My dad and I shared a love of writing. I remember how proud he was when, with the help of a friend, I published my first book on Amazon. He always wanted to write a book, and I have a feeling that when my sisters and I go through his computer, we will find some amazing tales that he began to type up. Many stories you all have probably heard… again and again.
Yesterday, as we sat at the table. My sister said, “Well, you know, he had been taking a writing class – didn’t you?” I did not, but it made me happy. Later, as I had to take some stuff downstairs to his office, and this time, although I had been there numerous times since his passing, I felt a sharp pang of loss, like, “He’s really not coming back here.” I also felt an overwhelming need to look around again and feel the moment.
I walked to his shelves and saw a name card, Kimberly, with the meaning of my name, and a cassette tape of Harry Connick, Jr. who he knew was one of my favorites. I immediately thought, this is for me. Then, underneath of that, I noticed a notebook. I picked it up and inside it was his notebook from his writing class.
It was filled with the kinds of prompts and exercises they give you in a class like that. I immediately learned things like he didn’t like bananas, and he didn’t believe people were forgiving or empathetic enough. There were familiar paragraphs from stories about Hell week with his BUDS/SEAL class and undercover work, but there were two things that stood out to me and I’d like to share them with you.
The first was a list of 6 things that I think were life lessons he had wanted to share with the class before he left. 1. Follow your dreams. 2.Don’t be discouraged. 3. Happiness and sadness are a state of mind that you can control. 4. Believe in something. 5. Be proud of yourself. (Although I have to say, he first wrote I am proud of myself and then crossed that out and wrote be proud of yourself.) 6. Attitude is the key to life. As I read each of them, I thought of numerous examples of how he lived them out every day of his life.
The second, and last piece I want to share with you is from an exercise where, I believe, the prompt was: When you close your eyes, whose voice do you hear and what is it saying? In his own words:
“I hear you, Dad. I hear you saying family is everything. I hear you say phrases you never spoke but demonstrated daily, like blood is thicker than water & loyalty, son, is a quality you must have. Trust your feelings. Speak the truth and speak from your heart.”
As I read his words I couldn’t help but hear what I hear him saying to me: Do things to help make others happy. Say things to make others feel their worth. Show people you love them. You are enough and you are loved completely – faults and all.
So to close tonight, I’d like you to close your eyes and hear the voice of Rudy Ray Davis…
I’m sure you heard what you needed to hear, but I also know he was saying to all of you: I love you and thank you for loving me.
***I wanted to also add a line from the part my sisters read before mine. My dad had been a part of recovering the Apollo 14 and 15 astronauts when they splashed back to earth.
“There can be no doubt that though the astronauts walked on the moon, our dad hung it.”