I was asked to give the eulogy at my grandfather’s funeral. Below is what I said.
I’d like to open with a quote from a song called “Burial” by the David Crowder Band:
“As we the community have gathered hereI would like to pose a question:How do you sum up a life in a few words?How do you measure the weight of a soul in a matter of moments?You do not. You cannot.But you can pray for rest, and you can pray for light.And you can remember, you can always remember.”
We, Paw’s family and friends, gather today, not to say good-bye. We gather to remember. To remember the legacy of man. We gather as a community of believers, who long for the resurrection, where we will be united, in our native land, with Paw and all those loved who lived a life that, like Paw’s, reflected Christ.
Through Paw’s Baptism, he was charged with the mission to make his life a reflection of our Lord’s. And I think we would all agree, his mission was a success. You can ask anyone, and they’d tell you that Paw’s life was lived in the loving service of others. To quote his son Summers, “As a young man he sacrificed his youth in the most awful war this world has ever known. And the rest of his life was spent sacrificing for his children.” If that is not living out his Baptismal promises, then we might as well all go home.
I can remember asking Paw, the day we buried Dedon, how they met? A valid question, since he was from Opelousas and she was from St. Martinville. I’ll never forget his response. He looked at me with a smirk on his face and said, “she chased me.”
He was hopelessly devoted to her. Their love for each other was truly inspirational. It was an example to the family, and really to everyone they met, of what love should be. It was them, being a reflection of love to the world – a reflection our Lord.
I could share hours of stories about Paw, everything from being a successful business man, to an amazing father, to a true pioneer, forever changing how the Pinewood Derby race is won, but of all the stories, there are 2 that I think capture who John Ray Perkins, Sr truly is.
I can remember when I worked at the Lumber Yard with Paw, there was an employee who would throw his hat on the counter every Saturday morning. Paw would fill his hat with money. Now the money bought donuts or boudoin for the employees. This is how Paw lived his life, always taking care of people and looking out for the good of others.
The second story happened just a couple of months ago. I went to visit Paw at the hospital. At the time, they thought they were going to have to amputate his leg and Paw wasn’t sure what he was going to do. I asked if he had decided. He looked me at me and said, “If I do the procedure and it works, I’ll be out of commission for a while. And if it doesn’t work, I’ll be gone for a while.” I thought that was a great way of putting it. I looked at him and said “I guess we’re all on a journey somewhere, uh Paw.” He looked me square in the eyes, and with complete peace and confidence said, “Tboo, I think I’m getting close to my destination.”
That’s Paw’s legacy. He filled our “hats” not just on Saturday mornings, but every time we were around him. He taught us how to be kind. He taught us that it is important to pay attention and to remember. He taught us to forgive, but to never let people treat you as a door mat. He taught us our humor and taught us how to love. Paw’s legacy lives on because he truly taught us how to live.
And in his last days, he never lost his wit or his sincere compassion and concern for others. He asked his doctor just last week how many fish he’d caught? Remembering that his doctor had told him he’d be gone for a few days on a fishing trip. And although we know he was probably in great pain toward the end, no one heard him complain.
So in life, Paw taught us how to live. And in death, he taught us how to die. Loving the people around you to the end.
Although Paw has now reached his destination. We can take joy in the confidence and the hope of the resurrection. Knowing that he and Dedon are now walking, as they did for so many years, hand in hand.
Thank you Paw! We love you! And until we meet again, be confident that your legacy will live on for generations to come.
So until we reach our destination, we’ll keep filling hats.
See you soon!
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of Christ. Rest in peace.