style / mindset / simplicity
style / mindset / simplicity
Last Saturday was my toughest public speaking engagement to date. I delivered the eulogy at my father’s Celebration of Life. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to find the strength to stand and speak as a way of honoring my amazing dad.
I’ve heard some writers comment that they are merely the vehicle through which the words come forth. My dad's eulogy came to me that way. It was the first time I’ve truly had the experience of whole sentences originating somewhere other than my conscious mind. The words simply flowed through me. Thanks for the help, Dad.
Celebration of Life for Peter Albert Klomp, Junior
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Madison, New Hampshire
"I want to start by sharing that whenever I was upset as a kid, my dad would reach into his pocket and offer me his hankie. I always thought it was the grossest thing ever. Today, I'm comforted by this hankie I found in his drawer.
Peter Klomp was a naturally gifted teacher and a compassionate coach. He believed in bringing out the best in his students and his players. While I never had the pleasure of sitting in his classroom or being on his team, I learned more lessons from him than I can possibly count.
My most vivid memories of time spent with my dad include playing catch in our front yard and going to the hardware store to secure supplies for a home repair project. As a side note- it was easy to want to tag along on those Berwyn Hardware runs because they always included a gumball. To this day, hardware stores and gumball machines always make me smile.
Now that he’s gone, I find myself reflecting on the practical skills that my father imparted on me and I realize that they are much more than simple how-to’s, they are metaphors containing invaluable real-life wisdom. Well, all except for teaching me how to hang a spoon on my nose… I’m still not sure of the bigger message there.
My dad’s favorite number was five. So I’d like to share five of my favorite Pete lessons…
We always had a wood burning fireplace when I was growing up. My father taught me how to build a fire. One of the main takeaways from this lesson… patience. There’s nothing quite like attempting to build a roaring fire to remind you of the importance of patience.
Pete also taught me that oxygen is essential to a flame. I learned to use a bellow to breathe new life into fading embers. Right now, as I navigate grief, I find comfort in the warmth and light that fire provides and I remind myself to inhale deeply and allow oxygen to revive me.
Before I was allowed to get my driver’s license, I had to be able to drive a stick shift and change a flat tire. Stick shift, I understood. One of our cars was manual drive. But changing a tire seems excessive, none of my friends had to do that. However, I now realize the life lesson found in this skill. By teaching me to change a tire, my dad empowered me to never be stranded. I’m confident that with the proper tools, I can do seemingly impossible things, like lift a car.
This skill also showed me the value of being helpful to others. I vividly remember rescuing several friends who were stranded with a flat. Most of all, I see that even when I feel deflated, it’s possible to keep moving forward.
Pete Klomp loved baseball. He taught me to swing a bat. Initially, I was terrified of the fast pitch coming toward me. But this skill showed me what it feels like to be brave. I learned to lean in and commit to the swing, even when I’m scared. I also grew to recognize my own power after making contact and sending the ball soaring.
Dead car battery? No problem. My dad taught me how to jump start a car. This lesson reminds me to embrace both the positive and the negative. To remember that in life, connection matters. And that I’ll likely run better if I take a little time to recharge.
My dad taught me to catch a pop fly. This activity came with a great reward. After dinner we’d join the lightening bugs and crickets outside in the front yard. Repeatedly, my dad would toss the ball high into the air. I’d ready my glove, eyes to the sky waiting for the catch. Over and over and over again.
As I began to grow tired of this drill, he’d deliver his perfectly timed motivation. He’d launch the ball and shout, “This one’s for a chocolate milkshake!” If I caught it, he was good for his word, we hopped in the car and headed off to Dairy Queen. If I dropped the ball, he’d throw it again, giving me another shot.
Through his example, I learned to keep my promises and to give second chances. After countless hours of pop fly practice, I also realized the importance of keeping my eye on what matters, be it the ball or the goal or the dream... to always keep a hand (or well-oiled glove) open and ready to receive.
And above all, to look up. Or as my dad would say, 'Chin up… corners up'."
He was a good man and an exceptional dad. I'm expecting to miss him for the rest of my life. If you've suffered this type of loss, my heart goes out to you.
Thanks for being here. I'll return to posting about style and simplicity this fall...