Five years ago today my dad, Dale McGinnis, passed away from brain cancer. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. It took about three years for me to come back to myself. The interesting part is that I didn’t even know after a certain point that I was still grieving. I just assumed I had lost interest in certain activities. I thought the things I used to enjoy must have been a phase; my grieving wasn’t just below the surface, easily triggered anymore. My emotions were in control and I was active and functioning just fine. But then, I slowly got my ‘mojo’ back. It was only as my interest in my hobbies returned that I understood my grieving. I tend to do that; to think I am just fine when I am not. I like to think of it as resilience. Perhaps, it is my way of allowing myself to be where I need to be. I accepted my grief without even knowing it, but was able to appreciate it for what it was, even if it was after the fact. I will always miss my dad everyday and be forever grateful that he was my dad. Follows is the eulogy that my five sisters and I wrote together for my dad’s memorial service. We all stood on stage together as I delivered the following message…
A Daughter’s Perspective
A Eulogy for Dale McGinnis
By Brandi Helligso in collaboration with her sisters
How do we say goodbye to our dad? He was our greatest protector, defender and rescuer. It doesn’t seem possible that anyone could possibly understand the depth of our love and reverence for him. He knew our souls and loved each one of us for who we are. He knew our hearts and our strengths and didn’t compare. And we knew his love was just as strong for each and every one of us, yet his bond felt entirely unique to us. We were all so proud he was our dad.
As sisters we always want the best for each other. We are each other’s cheerleaders. We don’t compete, have sibling rivalry or jealousy. How is this possible? With six girls – really? It’s true. We are this way because of our dad. We never had to vie for his affection and we never kept score. He showed us his love the best way he knew how and we always got the best of what he had to offer, and that meant different things for each daughter. We loved that about him. We were all treated as individuals. One of his last wishes was that we would always stay together, don’t fight and always love each other. Dad – you don’t have to worry. You’ve already instilled that in us.
We’d like to honor our dad today by sharing with all of you what we learned from him and what we’ll miss the most.
He taught us so many things. So, let’s begin with the basics. Always brush your teeth. It didn’t matter if we got home from a long road trip, we were always marched into the bathroom to brush our teeth before bed. Always return something in better condition than when you borrowed it. He taught us how to be resourceful and make do with what you have. We learned that “10 bucks an hour” seems to be the going rate for just about anything. There’s been a lot of labor performed for “ten bucks an hour”. If you party all night – you can’t sleep all day. As dad would say, “party all night, sleep all day – I don’t think so!”
He taught us perseverance in that you have to work for what you want in life. And sometimes you gotta fight for it, don’t let anything or anyone get in your way. He told us to always chase our dreams. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by. If it doesn’t work out, move on and try again. Eventually, something will work out and you’ll never have regret because you won’t have to look back and wonder what if.
Always keep your word. Be brave. You are not better than anybody else. Everybody falls down sometimes – treat them with dignity and respect. He really set the standard for what a father’s love and responsibility should be.
The things we’re going to miss the most begin with the simple phone calls. Phone calls usually started something like this, “what do you need,” or “hey check this out,” or “what do you think of this idea!” His excitement and enthusiasm was contagious. He was the cool dad that was always out with his girls because he was invited. He was the life of the party and made everything more fun. Dad was all about making memories. He put so much effort into showing people a good time, but he loved it, he was loved for it – and he was good at it.
Dad was the best story teller, and he always had one. The best part is he never embellished. Even if he wasn’t presented in the best light, he always told it like it was. He had the best sense of humor. We’re gonna miss laughing with him. We’re gonna miss Harley rides with our dad. We’re gonna miss running errands with our dad, which were usually paid at “ten bucks an hour”.
We’re gonna miss the man who always had our backs no matter what. Whatever emotion we were feeling he validated it whether we were right or wrong – it didn’t matter. If we were angry, he was angry. If we were excited, he was even more so. We could tell him anything. He believed in us and we trusted him.
What we’re gonna miss the most though, is the anticipation of his arrival. He was always the one we would look for to arrive at any given event. We’ll miss his smile and the pride we felt when he entered the room; that instant connection. Only then, could we relax and really enjoy the moment. Do all daughters feel this way about their dad?
In closing, I want to give an explanation. Over the years, people have always commented to us and complemented our dad on the fact that we all turned out so well. We would just smile and say thank you. They all knew our dad raised us right, but you could tell it was always said with a sense of wonder. I get it, believe me. We had a pretty unconventional upbringing to say the least. But, the reason we all turned out so well is because his love for us was so strong that he would have laid his life on the line for us without question. I know a lot of parents feel that way about their kids, I just don’t know how many kids really know it. We did. When you have love like that how could you disappoint?
Dad, we love you. Thank you for your unconditional love. Until we meet again we’ll be forever missing you…