One year ago this morning, my dear father, Harold Eugene Fitch, died in his sleep. He was 93 years old and had lived a long and productive life. He had reached the point where his only remaining joys were seeing his family and friends. Selfishly, I would have loved to have him stay in this world but I know that death was a friend to him. At his memorial service, I asked our pastor to read something I wrote several years ago to share my feelings about my precious dad. Here it is.
In all my life, the truest, warmest, deepest, most loving and most accepting message of love I have felt has come from you, my dad. I have never once doubted how much you loved me, how much you valued who I am, how much you wanted me to be safe and happy. I never felt any pressure from you to perform or to be something or someone I am not. I always, always felt safe and loved exactly as I am.
Some of life’s most important and most useful lessons, I have learned from you:
- You taught me that competition makes me stronger, makes me do my best, and helps me to learn from my mistakes. I’ve learned that how you play the game is important – but so is winning! I don’t like to lose and neither do you. Playing to win means using the best I have no matter what the task and that trait is a strong part of nearly everything I undertake. Winning doesn’t necessarily mean someone else has to lose. It means I have to challenge my own doubts and fears and reservations and succeed for and by myself. I’m grateful for that lesson from you.
- You gave me my FITCH CHIN – symbol of stubborn pride and fierce determination. I’ve needed that a time or two in my life and I’m glad I’ve had it though a few others might argue that I have over-perfected the art.
- One of the greatest gifts you gave to all of us was the love you felt and always showed for Mom. There is no greater gift a parent can give to a child than the joy of living within the loving bond the two of you shared. As much as I always knew that we five children were loved, it was always clear that the strongest bond of all was between our parents. I thank you for the steadfast security of that love.
- You taught me that living the life of faith means more than being in church on Sunday morning. It means reaching out to people others have discarded or don’t even see. You taught me that giving your best means personally responding to human need face-to-face as well as being a generous steward of financial assets. I’ve watched you reach out to people in love and I’ve seen the difference you’ve made in people’s lives. That’s what the love of God is all about and that’s what you were all about: a powerful example of the love God calls each of us to live every day.
I cannot imagine having a better dad than you – not even one with perfect pitch. Thank you for the warmth of your big hand, the comfort of your strong arms and the joy of being your daughter.