My dad passed away a few weeks ago. It has been difficult, but I've been comforted by the support of more people than I can count, especially at his memorial service where a few hundred folks came through to tell us all how great he was and how much he'll be missed. If that's not evidence of a life well-lived, I don't know what is.
My siblings and I all gave brief eulogies. This was mine:
I don’t think Dad was one for formal “teachable moments” - I certainly don’t remember too many occasions where he informed me he was actively going to teach me something, but that doesn’t mean I never learned anything from him. If you spent any time at all in George Doughty’s orbit it was inevitable you’d pick up something. So here are ten things I learned from watching Dad through the years… mostly things learned from emulating the example he set, and maybe just a couple from doing the opposite.
1. Never turn down a free beer… I think this one doesn’t need any elaboration.
2. Formality has its time and place, but it’s a barrier between people in everyday life - Dad was never Mr. Doughty, he was always George. To his friends, my friends, everyone he ever met. It’s easier to get along if you just establish a first-name basis from the start, and Dad was all about getting along.
3. Baseball just sounds better on AM radio - FM and digital radio just sound too polished. That constantly degraded AM background hiss is a crucial part of the ambiance.
(3a. Just a reminder that no matter how you’re consuming a game, rebroadcast in whole or in part without the express, written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited.)
4. Be your loved ones’ biggest fan - If you’re in this room, I can guarantee you that Dad has celebrated with you, congratulated you, cheered you on, watched you play ball, watched your kid play ball, or just generally been proud of you for one accomplishment or another. Please know that was genuine, and that whatever day or days that may have occurred, you arguably had no bigger supporter in that room.
5. Admit defeat when trying to fix something - this is one of those opposite examples I mentioned… if it’s not going well, BACK AWAY. Put the tools down. Pay someone or call in a more qualified friend or relative. Your family will thank you.
6. Attempt to understand and indulge your kids’ every weird interest - Dad was a sports nut and, for the most part, I was not. So rather than try to change me, he actively sought to understand the things I was into and supported them. Comic books? Definitely. Video games? Sure, here’s a dollar, go to the arcade while I talk to everyone in the mall. Star Wars or Star Trek? Not my thing, but I’ll watch them with you and talk at length afterward about how much I actually enjoyed it. And just as my dad had at least a basic idea of which superheroes were Marvel and which were DC, I now have a pretty good idea of Pokemon power sets and Smash Ultimate fighter special moves.
7. A brain that’s a sponge for allegedly useless trivia is never a bad thing - not only does it help inspire some interesting conversations, but I’ve won a lot of free beers and coffees that way.
8. See the world and its people but always retain an appreciation for where you’re from - never forget that for a guy who always claimed he never cared if he ever left the state of Maine, nevermind one whose idea of destination travel was Milo, he managed to see a whole lot of the country and the world while he was in the Navy, and some of the stories of his adventures getting from place to place during that time in his life were clearly some of his favorites to tell. But at the end of the day, Maine was always in his heart and where he belonged, and he celebrated that.
9. Always go above and beyond for your family - they hold your heart and the vast majority of your soul, so look after their needs as well or better as you would your own.
10. And finally… no matter what the critics tell you, even if one of those critics is your youngest son telling you that you could use a few lessons, sing your heart out all day, everyday.
See, Dad? I was always paying attention, even when you thought I wasn't. Thanks for everything.