Wednesday, January 20, 2010

R.I.P. Shelborn W. 'John' Cale

On January 2, at the ripe old age of 92, my step-grandfather, John Cale passed away. His passing was a blessing in that he was having many health and dementia problems but he will be greatly missed as he was a spirited and loving man!

Presented here is the eulogy his daughter, my stepmother, gave at his funeral:

Today is also a welcomed day because it brings us together to acknowledge and pay tribute to a very fine man.

My dad enjoyed a long life and a long retirement. There were many things he enjoyed and loved.

His earliest love was undoubtedly for the state of West Virginia. He was always pulling for WV University’s Mountaineers, looked forward to and tremendously enjoyed participating in his home town reunions, and loved talking with strangers and friends alike about the history and political goings-on in the state. While in high school, he won the Golden Horseshoe Award, an honor that is still bestowed today on the top few students in the state based on their knowledge of the history and geography of West Virginia. Indeed, WV was one of the loves of his life. I can hear him now breaking into the opening strains of “The W.Va Hills—how majestic and how grand…” Oh, those beautiful hills.

My mother was another of his life loves—he relished telling how he spied her across a dance floor and fell in love at first sight. Their marriage has lasted 69 years—should we all be so fortunate.

My sister and I were also beneficiaries of his caring and his unwavering support. He always felt that we could do whatever we set our minds to. Over the years, he expressed great pride in our accomplishments.

Daddy loved to sing. As a young man, before the war, he sang on the radio. But for most of my life, I remember him singing around the house or while driving the car. In his last few years, he would tell us about the beautiful music being conducted inside his head. Any song he thought of would trigger an orchestra to tune up in his mind.

And then, there were the practical jokes and teasing that were always a part of his personality. He had a long record of planning and playing practical jokes on family and friends. One of these complicated shenanigans nearly got him shot when Uncle Jess Sharpe mistook him for a loose woman and threatened him with a loaded shotgun. Even in his waning years, he loved to tease—always with a twinkle in his aye and a wink to one of us.

I would be remiss not to mention my father’s sense of responsibility—bills were to be paid on time, and appointments were to be kept in a timely manner. He had an accountant’s attitude about doing things correctly the first time and keeping things in good order.

Robert Frost once wrote a poem entitled “Acquainted with the Night”. The speaker in the poem talks of wandering out at night, down deserted streets, dropping his head when someone approached so that he would not be required to acknowledge the other’s presence. Not a poem for my dad.

His would be more aptly entitled “Acquainted with the Day”. For he would go forth to embrace the event, to seek out people—strangers or friends—and he would extend a welcome, much in the same spirit as my great grandmother often did—to “come and sit a spell”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful eulogy and Jeanette did a great job of honoring him!-Liza