Rest Now, Papaw.

Today, we laid Papaw to rest. We gathered and celebrated his life as family and friends, and I delivered the eulogy. It was my first, and it was an honor.Now we pray that my grandma can begin the process of moving on, catching up on rest, and learning to make sense of the world on this side of losing your spouse.Thank you all for your prayers, your calls, and your kind words. We certainly feel your love.I’ve included my eulogy here in full, for those who would want to read it:**The Eulogy for Everett Dwight Percifield**by Eric Nentrup written for the funeral on March 9, 2006Today, we are here to celebrate the life of Everett Dwight Percifield: Husband of Maxine, Father to Steve and Jan, Grandfather to Kirsten, Justin, Jennifer, Brian, and myself, and even Great-Grandfather to Brian & Stephanie’s little Annabelle. We thank you for coming here today to celebrate his life with us, to show your support to my family, and to pay your respects.Dwight was born January 10, 1931 to Lemon and Letha Percifield in Clifty Township, or as we’ve known it, Newbern. He was the youngest of three children: his sister Doris, and his brother Francis (known as Pete). He survived them all. Dwight passed away last Saturday, March 4th, 2006 at the Hospice of South Central Indiana Inpatient Facility in Columbus.”Eric, don’t grieve me.” Papaw told me this just a few short weeks ago. And he did so in his typical, matter-of-fact way. Hearing that from him then, and sharing it with you now, isn’t easy. For it seems that grieving the loss of my Papaw is the only thing I know how to do right now. I don’t think it was his intent to ask us to do something impossible or even difficult. He just simply didn’t want for us to spend time pining for him. Though at times he appeared gruff, or even unsentimental, you should know that my grandfather, was quite the softy. And even the thought of us gathered here, sharing our tears, our memories, and trying our best NOT to grieve, would break his heart.So, if you’ll agree with me to try YOUR best today, we’ll acknowledge our loss, our pain, and our regret. And together we’ll honor Dwight by celebrating his life. And I’ll try my best to tell a story that even he would smile at.Dwight Percifield was an original through and through. I have never met such an unusual blend of stubbornness and humility. And the closer to him you were , the more you knew one side better than the other. But that’s who Dwight was. He might ask you about your job, and after listening to your explanation would shake his head stating that your career was so far beyond his ability to comprehend. Then five minutes later be sternly stating his case why it was plain foolishness to drive clear across town and spend good money at Starbucks when the coffee you could make at home was just as good. He and I left that matter unsettled.Chalk it up to generational differences if you must, but don’t reason that Dwight was a simple man, not in touch with the latest and greatest. To understand what made him tick or in some cases, what just plain made him TICKED, was to realize that he himself wasn’t simple, but that he LIVED LIFE SIMPLY. There is a keen difference. Dwight didn’t like things to get complicated. In fact it frustrated him to no end. The things that made sense to him were things we can easily take for granted–like digging a stump. In fact, losing the physical strength to dig a ditch, till a garden, or dig a stump was the biggest discouragement to Dwight. That was his measure of living–to be able to do hard physical work that yielded measurable results. Much of the “fuss” involved in the world today just didn’t interest him at all.Don’t get me wrong, he marveled at things like aviation, motorcycles, and fast race cars. And developments in technology blew his mind. He’d be pondering things and out of the blue say something like, “Explain to me how an electrical signal sent from somewhere out there, can travel an untold distance to my house, into my living room, to my television and be unscrambled to show me a Formula One race taking place in Italy? Boy.” And often to a fault, he’d stop you from responding by downplaying his own smarts, “It’s just too much for dumb ole’ Papaw to understand.”But don’t believe that bluff for a second. I know for a FACT that Dwight could “out-read” most of us in this room, and that he was the number one customer of the Bartholomew County Library Book-Mobile. He had a penchant for military, crime & mystery, novels, and I bet he put down 2-3 per week at his peak. And as shrewd as Dwight was, you can be sure he knew that he got his tax-dollar’s worth out of his weekly visits. The crew that ran the Book-Mobile could set their clock by Dwight and every week, they’d be waiting for him, with a few suggested books already set out for Papaw. Dwight read about as often as he mowed, napped, or ate biscuits. And unwittingly, I’ve just exposed his other favorite regular activities.Speaking of mowing, my grandpa had a weekly routine that more or less began and ended on the tractor. He had enough grass to mow that once divvied up, took an entire week to complete. He’d no sooner finish the job than have to start mowing all over again. He liked it that way. Most of my childhood visits entailed sitting “shotgun” on Papaw’s knee as he’d mow. My brother Brian appreciated that more than I did though, I think. I was too fidgety but Brian must have inherited that appreciation for riding the tractor, because he’d ride along pretty much anytime he could when we were kids. And when we were old enough, Brian would even give Papaw a bit of relief, driving the tractor some by himself. Of course, the relief wasn’t real–Mamaw and Papaw worried about us like you wouldn’t believe. And yet they still surprised us one Christmas with a Honda Three-Wheeler. That’s right, I’m referring to the motorized tricycle now outlawed in many states for being so dangerous. But we sure had fun whipping that thing around their property.We also had plenty of fun going to Ceraland. Ceraland, to us, was the equivalent of Disney World. And the most exciting thing to me was going to see the radio-controlled airplanes. Many a Saturday morning, I remember going to see all of Papaw’s cronies pilot their planes in impossible stunts and maneuvers. Now, a real treat was if my Uncle Steve was in town, because he was simply THE BEST pilot out there and often had the coolest looking plane on the landing strip. That was a passion that Papaw and Steve shared for years and made plenty of fun memories for us boys.Another funny routine was my Mom, Jan, buying him a block of cheddar cheese for his birthday or Christmas–EVERY year. You’d open the fridge and see a neatly wrapped brick-sized present, and immediately know what it was and who it was for. Would you believe we NEVER (at least in my memory) opened that block of cheese and ate it together? I had never questioned that until now, but as far as I know, Dwight ate an entire pound of cheddar all by himself, and it was a special little ritual he shared with Jan. Mom also tells me of a time when she and Steve were kids and they would head down to Florida for a family vacation. Dwight loved to stand in the surf, facing the waves and let them crash in his face, clearing his sinuses. He had a curious tendency for doing things in his own peculiar way, and the list goes on and on.Dwight had a fantastic sense of humor. And we know he didn’t always reign it in or censor himself either. I can still remember plenty of irreverent moments, that I’m going to have keep to myself. I’m sure you have some memories shared with Dwight that you’ll keep to yourself as well and that’s a precious thing. But there are plenty of stories, tidbits, quirks, laughs, and other insights about Dwight that deserved to be shared. And I encourage you to do so.With my sister Jen, they had a little routine, a few years back, when she was in high school. During her morning drive, as she passed my grandparent’s house on State Road 46, she’d roll down her window and toss a banana peel into their
yard. Dwight would find it every day because as part of HIS regular routine, he’d pick up trash along the road. I’m not sure if he figured it out one day because my sister actually hit him with a banana peel or if she ‘fessed up, but I know he paid her back on her birthday. Dwight dressed up in his gaudiest plaid pants, shirt, suspenders and straw hat, and showed up at my sister’s birthday party in front of all her friends to bring her a gift. She opened the box to find–you guessed it–banana peels.Some of you much older than myself (Buddy, Gene) can share similar stories involving pink flamingoes and other tomfoolery. In fact, Gene, for years, I thought your name was Archie because that’s how Mamaw and Papaw referred to you. Come to find out, you called Dwight “Arch” also, a nickname tradition dating back many decades. I never tire of hearing these stories, learning more and more about my grandfather.I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about an important member of the family who can’t be here today. She misses Dwight as much as we do. I’m talking about Papaw’s trusty sidekick, Rascal the Cat. Or “Rass Anne” as he affectionately called her. There were always cats around the house at Mamaw & Papaw’s, but this one was a daddy’s girl.If you don’t know her, Rassy is wise and serious looking housecat, now pushing 17 years of age. Like Dwight, she was one of a litter of three and long survived her siblings. And as Dwight’s health began to fail, she behaved as only animals can, distancing herself from those whom they know are ill. It was sad, but we could see it happening. Then in a move that surprised us all, she clung to Dwight during the entire 28-hour period we had him home during his final week. We repeatedly had to pry her away from him so he was able to rest. He loved that cat who was such a good buddy for such a long time.Last fall, I borrowed my father-in-law’s convertible and came by to take Papaw on a joy-ride. With the top down, I was determined to drive fast enough to make him notice, but not so hard I made him sick. We went out north of town where the tomato fields were being harvested. We stopped to watch, and we talked about the big truck and conveyor system they used to pick the tomatoes. We didn’t talk about anything deep, spiritual, or otherwise complicated & convoluted. We just watched the workers bringing in the tomatoes, and together enjoyed the sunshine and each other’s company.Lastly, I want to talk a bit about Dwight’s loyalty. The man was fiercely committed to the decisions he made. And whether it was a momentary notion to ride his tractor some eight miles from Columbus to Newbern, or in his years of service on the job, or upholding his family obligations, Dwight Percifield set the bar pretty high by demonstrating what it meant to be loyal. He served in the National Guard for 10 years, And after that, continued working at Cummins for 35 years before retiring. But his greatest and most honorable commitment was to his loving wife, Maxine. Fifty-five years they were married before death parted them. In the last years, months, and weeks of his life, he wasn’t concerned about cancer, about dying, about what came after death, or anything like that. He was only worried about leaving Maxine on her own. Never mind the fact that she was working round the clock to care for his constant physical and medical needs–he was worried about her. This was one matter where Dwight wasn’t his practical self at all. During the past few weeks, I’ve seen the amazing inner strength that lies within Maxine. Often out-pacing MY stamina, running on little to no sleep she did whatever necessary whenever necessary in order to care for Dwight. And though she was able to keep at it, constantly keeping fatigue at bay, Dwight still worried about her not having him to care for HER. His concern came from the boundless love he had for her. Granted, they expressed their love to each other in ways as unique as they are, and at times in ways that only they would ever understand, I know certainly that the only worry he had was leaving her alone. It was no use trying to convince him that she would be fine, that she had the strength to continue on. We saw it, we recognized it, but he was too stubborn to believe how true that was. And that I admire. I’ve seen IN ACTION, just how much my grandma loved Dwight. And Dwight, in turn, loved my grandma immensely. He loved his son and daughter, and he loved his grandkids and great-granddaughter. He loved the rest of his family and he loved his dear friends.All of us will miss him, for we loved Dwight too.So later this summer when the county fair is in town, get yourself a pineapple whip ice cream cone, raise it high to honor Dwight and enjoy every last bite. I think he’d agree with that.CLOSING PRAYERHeavenly Father, we thank you for Everett Dwight Percifield. We thank you for his big heart, and his love for each of us. It pains us to let him go, and so we ask for your strength to continue on, and we trust You to care for his soul. It’s in Your name we pray, Amen. COMMITTAL:Eternal God, you have shared with us the life of Everett Dwight Percifield.
Before he was ours, he is yours.
For all that Dwight has given us to make us what we are,
for that of him which lives and grows in each of us,
and for his life that in your love will never end,
we give you thanks.
As now we offer Dwight back into your arms,
comfort us in our loneliness,
strengthen us in our weakness,
and give us courage to face the future unafraid.
Draw those of us who remain in this life closer to one another, 
make us faithful to serve one another,
and give us to know that peace and joy which is eternal life; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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