Just give me any impressions you might have, or if you think I'm making a bad mistake somewhere in it. Some of it I have already posted here, maybe with some slight re-wording. Caps words are to remind me about emphasis. This is maybe the third draft. I will be reading it in a memorial service with friends and family. ------------------------- Whenever someone is being negative at work, or complimenting me on my positive attitude, I tell them about a question I once asked my father. When I asked him why he left school at 14 to become an electricians apprentice, he told me, so I didnt have to go down in the mines. My dad was always proud to be working class. Not proud as if he somehow looked down upon education and wealth; far from it. He believed no matter who you were, or what you had, you should always strive to be more. He believed in educating yourself; reading and experiencing great works, and doing great things. He taught me that education is important, and that you can always aspire to be whatever it is you want to be. Now, back when I was a teenager, I thought I had a pretty mean dad. He believed in working hard. He believed in working ME hard. People said, nothing you do is good enough for him, and they were right. Nothing I did WAS good enough for him, and thats because I was a kid, typical of kids of my generation, always doing things halfway. Not quite getting the job done right, and then wanting credit for the work I had done. I was lucky to have such a mean dad, who expected me to take pride in my work. Nothing I did was good enough because I had not done my best, and I would come to discover what doing my best was, and why my mean old dad had such high expectations for me. He knew something I didnt. He knew what I was capable of. Of course, we also did plenty of fun stuff, going on ski trips, and going out on the boat, and many people remember the charming, affable, often funny man that he was. Its good for us to remember that side of him, and we should. But the part of him that most lives in me is that man who was so unafraid. Unafraid of some hard work. Unafraid to sweat, out in the hot sun. Unafraid that a blister might form on his hands, or his muscles might get sore, or the work might somehow kill him. He approached a task with the single minded purpose of getting the job done, and done right. And then hed look at that thing he had done, and you could see the satisfaction he got from it. I remember the summer of the wall. My dad told me he was going to build a retaining wall next to our house, and I pictured one of those railroad tie things, like one of our neighbors had. What he had in mind is one of the greatest engineering feats of modern times. He poured concrete into forms, and we put clay pipe all through the ground, coming out in little holes at the bottom, for drainage. There were long steel rods, bolted into big iron anchors, all throughout the dirt behind the wall. There was tons of beautiful rock, which he custom shaped with a hammer, as he put each piece of the puzzle in place. And there was the mud, which is what he called the mortar. A wall such as this needs incredible amounts of mud, and when you're a Scottish engineer building this beauty, the one thing you need is an assistant to mix all that mud. And that's where I came in. That summer, I had a hose, a wheelbarrow, a hoe, and more bags of mortar mix than I ever care to see again, and a Scottish taskmaster barking, "put your BACK into it, lad!" The mud couldn't be too dry, and it couldn't be too wet. It had to be just right. To this day, I mix some of the best mud you could ever hope for. I'll never forget the evening when it was getting dark, and I was up by my friend Jerrys house. I had two very pretty young ladies with me, and I had my arms around their waists, and we were walking towards some bushes. It was to be the greatest moment of my life! My skinny, awkward, fifteen year old self had finally caught a break, and a little bit of light shined down on me from Heaven, and I heard the distinct voices of angels, singing Beatles hits, with a very prominent bass guitar backing. And then, I saw that blue pickup truck approaching. It was my dad, and he was very angry, and I was apparently supposed to be back at the house MIXING MUD. Those young ladies have faded into little more than a vague, pleasant memory, but that wall will stand forever. If they ever tear down that house, there will be a crew of demolition guys looking frustrated, covered in sweat, saying, who in Gods name built this wall? and can someone go back to the office for a couple of sticks of dynamite? For many people, a wall is a metaphor, invoking a prison; something that keeps things out, or holds us in. For me, that wall is a metaphor invoking endurance; durability; immortality. When I was a kid, my friend Donald had a dad who was a Winnipeg Police Officer. He had to call him "sir," and he was a very intimidating man. When I would stay over at Donald's house, his dad would threaten to force me to cut my hair, and sometimes, he made me cry. When my dad found out about it, he told him in no uncertain terms he was to leave me alone. Donald's dad said, "you can't like that long hair, that makes him look like a girl," and my dad said, "I don't like it, but it's his choice." My dad always wanted me to do well in life, but only at whatever it was I wanted to do. He didn't care what I did, as long as I tried my best at it. I gave him a lot of opportunities to be disappointed in me. HE NEVER WAS. He always believed in me, every single day. Im a very lucky man. I was blessed with wonderful parents, who always cared about me, and taught me right. A wonderful mother, who is with us here today. Shes a good woman, and I love her dearly. A wonderful sister, who I have always looked up to. She went to college, and made something of her life, married a good man, and raised two great kids. Were very proud of Pam, and so was my dad. My dad, my mom, and our entire family are 100% Scottish, but I was never allowed to refer to myself as Scottish. "You're an American." He always told me the best gift he ever gave me was moving to this country so I could be born here. I don't say this as a knock to any other country, especially Scotland, which is a beautiful and richly historic place, but I do believe that's true. I think he believed I had better opportunities here than in Scotland, and I'm truly grateful. I'm a July baby. I was supposed to born on the 4th of July, but I was late. Every single Independence Day, I think of my parents, and how proud they were to become citizens of this country, and how they always believed in the freedom, and the opportunities that it stands for. And as I look around me today, and I see my mother, and my sister, and my cousins, and aunts, here at the church I went to as a child, in the very city where I was born, I feel blessed. Today is not a sad day. Today is a day we celebrate a truly great man; a man I loved with all my heart, and who will always be right here with me. Thank you all for coming, and may God bless each of you as He has blessed me. Thank you.