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Thanks for Being My Dad

by Laurel Davis

My father, Tom Dowd, died of cancer on August 8, 2001, at the age of 77. He was buried August 13, 2001 in Iowa. I was lucky enough to be his daughter for nearly 43 years. I would like to tell you a bit about my wonderful father. What follows are the remarks I gave at his vigil service.

It's been said that a man's worth is measured by his friends, and if that is true, then Dad was priceless!

In the last six weeks, I have learned many wonderful things about my father. When Dad was hospitalized in Rochester, we didn't know how long he'd be with us and so my brothers tape recorded Dad telling some of his great stories. I sat in awe of his powers of recall, even while he was in the midst of those high-powered radiation treatments. Most of you here tonight have heard Dad reminisce at one time or another, so you know what I'm talking about.

Additionally, I have recently had the opportunity and privilege to read through two binders that Dad spent the last several years compiling. He entitled them "The Life and Times of TJD." Within the covers of these books are copies of letters he sent and received, as well as newspaper clippings and many, many anecdotes which he took the time to put down on paper.

I now know, for the first time, how Dad got started in the insurance business and why he was so successful in his chosen profession. I also read a great story about his lifelong love of locks and keys. When Dad was five years old and living in Chicago, his father, Rupert, was unable to have their car filled with gas because the pump was locked. Dad studied the accumulation of keys in his cigar box full of treasures, selected one key, and proceeded to unlock the pump, much to the astonishment of his father and the gas station attendant.

I read about the time that Dad volunteered for MP duty while in the Army. A soldier from Dad's base who had gone A.W.O.L. had been picked up and was being housed in the jail in Dad's hometown. He needed an Army MP escort back to his unit. Dad got a free trip home to visit his family for a few days, all because he was clever enough to volunteer at the right time.

Also included in the binders were numerous columns recalling the nicknames Dad bestowed on his high school classmates . . . some complimentary and others definitely not! That is pure Dad!

In perhaps the most bittersweet entry of all, Dad wrote about his dwindling circle of longtime friends who had died. In the opening paragraph, Dad wrote words to this effect: 'I can vividly recall those times when I was faced with a problem to which I had no clear solution. I would pick up the phone to call so-and-so for advice and then it would hit me: I can't call him - - he's gone.'

In the several pages that followed, Dad wrote down his memories of those departed friends. Many of these men were known to me, but some were not. After reading Dad's recollections, however, I almost felt as if I had known them, too. I saw these men as Dad had seen them, and his words serve as a tribute to their memories.

Dad had the uncanny ability to choose people of fine character as his friends. That is a legacy that he passed on to us, his family.

Dad, we miss you greatly, but the knowledge that you are now in the company of your buddies makes your leaving us easier to bear.

In closing, I quote Ralph Barton Perry who wrote the following over 100 years ago. His words describe those relationships that Dad nurtured so carefully:

'Wherever you are, it is your own friends who make your world.'

 


I am a 43-year-old mother of three who recently lost my father to brain cancer.