Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Dad

This is the talk I gave at my father's Memorial Service, March 14, 2013:

Arland Duce Hillyard
March 3, 1932 - March 9, 2013

My dad, Arland Duce Hillyard, was a good father. He was an especially good dad for little girls. He was sweet and gentle and he had a playful heart. He always said I was his favorite oldest daughter. He would introduce me like that to people, and said that out of all his oldest daughters I was his favorite.

I have many, many happy memories of my dad. They bring me comfort as I say goodbye to him for now. It makes me happy to know I’ll see him again and to know he’s watching over my mom from the other side.

One of my earliest memories of my dad shows how he was. I was little and we were off doing errands, just the two of us. This was before seatbelts, and I had this idea that if I knelt on the seat than everyone would think I was a grownup. I told my dad this. He didn’t laugh, but very seriously agreed with me. Said I did look grownup. I was so proud of myself. Of course I didn’t, but Dad didn’t burst my bubble.

When I was little and my parents would go out, we always knew. They would buy us TV dinners, get a babysitter, and they would dress up. My mom would wear a dress and heels that would click on the floor as she walked, and my dad would wear a suit and tie.

So when I was little and a Blue Bird and Camp Fire Girl they would hold an annual Father-Daughter Dinner. When I was about 7 and going to my first one, my dad dressed up in a suit and tie. For me! For a little 7-year-old girl. I don’t remember anything about that dinner but I do recall quite clearly how that made me feel. To show such respect and love to a small child is, I think, a reflection of Christ’s love. The Lord loves children and so does my dad.

He was good about playing along. When Cheryl and I were little if we wanted to pretend we were horses, then okay -- we were horses. Of if we were in the pool and playing we were dolphins, okay -- we were dolphins! As long as we were having fun Dad played along too.

He liked to get involved in things with us. One time he and my sister Cheryl got into candle making. They had a great time, got very creative and made candles every free moment they could. And we had candles everywhere! Everyone got candles for Christmas that year, and anyone who wanted one got one.

Dad encouraged me to study music. He bought me a flute which was a great expense. He never complained, never threw it in my face when I didn’t practice. He and mom went to every concert. When I was scared about going into high school and joining the marching band, he made a deal with me: just try it for a year and see. My parents were super band boosters and attended every single football game my entire high school career ... every parade and event they were there. And he was right. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Dad loved music. I grew up hearing show tunes, Doris Day, Harry Belafonte, Scheherazade, and so forth. And he loved to sing and had a lovely voice. One year he was asked to perform the song Let There Be Peace On Earth at a Camp Fire Girl Council Meeting, and he was fantastic!

His love of singing often had him bursting into song. One time he had us all learn the lyrics to a song from the Walt Disney movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. After we learned it he would lead us in singing it when we were out in the car, camping, playing games, whatever. To this day I can remember most of those lyrics.

He also liked to make up his own song and sing popular songs of the day. One distinct characteristic about Dad is that he mixed up words and names.

For example, there was a store in San Jose that had an amazing Christmas display in their front window every year. Everyone would go to Brueners to see it, but we went to Beeners. He and Mom went to see a play. While everyone else watched Joseph and His Technicolor Dream Coat, my dad saw Joseph and His Multi-Colored Smoking Jacket.

I want to share a story of my dad’s mixing up words that I love, and it is so him! He and Mom were living in Maryland and Christmas was approaching. My mother was into Estee Lauder then, and liked to wear the perfume White Linen and the dusting powder Private Collection. Dad called me to find out about them because he wanted to get her some. He decided on the powder. I told him to go to a high end department store and find the Estee Lauder counter, letting him know the clerk could get it for him.

A few days later he called to tell me that the store didn’t have the powder.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I did what you said, and asked the woman for Command Performance and she said they didn’t sell that product,” he told me. “She said it was a hair salon.”

“Command Performance is a hair salon,” I agreed. “The powder is called Private Collection.”

He was very upset, and I suggested he write it down to help him remember the name.

“I don’t need to write it down!” he said.

But a few days later I got another call. Again he’d been told that Estee Lauder didn’t sell a product called Command Performance, which was a hair salon.

“Do you want me to buy it and mail it to you?” I asked.

“No!” he cried. “I can do this. What’s it called again?”

Well a few days later I got a call from my mother. We were talking about this and that when she said, “The strangest thing happened with your father the other night.”

She told me they’d been watching television and a commercial for Estee Lauder’s perfume White Linen came on.

“Oh!” she said, “that’s my perfume.”

“What?!” my dad cried. “I thought it was Command Performance!”

“That’s a hair salon,” my mom told him, at which point my father leapt to his feet, pointed at her and cried out:

“Why does everyone keep telling me that?!” and turning on his heel left the room.

At that point I had to ruin my father’s Christmas surprise and tell my mother the story of my poor dad trying to get her powder. Funny man.

My dad, as I said, loved music and loved to sing. One of his favorite hymns was Master, the Tempest is Raging and I remember him singing it many times. The melody has been running through my head. This is a lyric that has me thinking of my dad:

Linger O Blessed Redeemer
Leave me alone no more
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
And rest on the blissful shore

I know my father is on that blissful shore. And -- he’s probably singing. He may not have the right words, but you can be sure he’s singing his own song there just as he did here.

1 comment:

Mel said...

Oh my Maureen...what a great talk and what a wonderful man your father had me in tears. I feel like I know your father now and I wish I could have met him just once. What great memories you have....there is nothing like a father/daughter love. I was the baby, but I have the best relationship with my like you have with your dad. What a great tribute!