It’s been a year and a half since my stepdad died. This Saturday, we will take a Coast Guard ship out on Lake Erie to scatter his ashes. A burial at sea.
At the time a year and a half ago, I posted a little thing I called My Two Dads. I don’t want to repeat that because, well, that would be redundant. And it seems kind of silly to plagiarize myself, although it wouldn’t really be plagiarizing.
It was fairly well received at the time, so mom asked me to write something for the occasion of scattering his ashes. And so now I’m waiting for that flash of inspiration. Come on, inspiration, I’m working on a deadline here.
Maybe this will help:
Ecclesiastes 3, King James version
1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
And now some music inspired by this passage. The Byrds were surprisingly true to the King James version. The King James Bible can be a little difficult to an untrained ear (including mine), but it certainly is more elegant than some more modern translations.
And, finally, something:
John W. ‘Bill’ Siegle
Dad joined the Navy at 17 so that he could sail the seas and see the world. In its infinite wisdom, the Navy sat him behind a typewriter. Today we are here to right that wrong and to finish that unfinished goal. Let’s give Dad a proper send-off to sea.
Dad – or Pops or Grampy – was a man of lots of action and few words. Paradoxically, he was a prolific reader and an avid crossword and jigsaw puzzler. He possessed a vocabulary that would be the envy of an English professor.
He had an enormous heart but needed a donated kidney to continue his good work for the better part of two decades. His heart finally gave out after years of working overtime.
He was born in Columbus, Ohio, and spent most of his life in Columbus. He lived in the Denver area for a period before returning to Columbus, but he often spoke fondly of Denver.
So he started a family, with a wife and three adopted kids. This was long before it was vogue to adopt babies from China or Mozambique. Apparently God had other plans for Dad: His first wife, Betty Siegle, died suddenly, leaving Dad with three kids. Call it divine intervention, luck, fate. In 1972 he took Janis and, yes, four more kids to feed and shelter (and fix their cars). Where he saw need, he stepped up to the plate.
He’d complain about the weather and the Buckeyes, but not much else. And he had a soft spot in his heart for dogs.
Dad lived an exemplary life of hard work and steadfast loyalty to his family and friends. He had an extraordinary work ethic. He was honored with The Integrity Award and The Golden Wrench among other recognitions. He did not seek adulation or praise; he won it through his selfless service and humility. He was a great man. His was a quiet greatness, a greatness borne out of hard work and dedication. He led through example.
He was licensed as a master plumber and was a longtime member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 189, and he was skilled in many other trades as well. He had a hand in building skyscrapers, high schools, neighborhood swimming pools and in restoring cars – engine and body. Hardly a week passed by that didn’t involve either a moonlight plumbing job or neighborhood project. He built things and he fixed things. He raised skyscrapers and families. He made the world a little bit better each time.
It was hard watching him in his last years, as age and a failing heart sapped his strength. That’s not the Pops I remember. I’d rather remember him as the strong man who bore enormous burdens and led an honorable life with grace and dignity: I remember a giant.