Last Words For My Father

Steve often told his two sons,"Let's treat each other kindly and enjoy all the time together that we can,because you never know when that time will be taken from us." The following speech was written and delivered by Steven's eldest son, Nathan, at a memorial service for his father.

I would like to say a few things about my dad. I know sometimes we disagreed on things and he did things which I thought unfair. But now I know they were all for my own good. The strangest thing is...every time my dad would try to take me camping or go running with him, I would turn him away every time. He would then tell me that we should spend a lot of time together and say nice things to each other because you never know when one day you may never be able to talk to them again. And you know what? He was right all along. Now I would give anything to go camping with him or run with him. But now I can't do that. Because I never stopped to think that something could actually happen.

I think he raised me very well. I owe a lot to my father. When I was little my dad spoke to me as an an adult. And as a result my vocabulary increased and that helped me a lot when it came to reading and writing. He also taught me German and I was able to become friends with the German people we lived with at that time. He taught me how to ride a bike, manage my money, taught me about everything I ever wanted to know. And he seemed to have an abundance of knowledge. Because of him I have been able to see many places in the world.

For the last couple of years I didn't really spend time with dad. You see..I never really knew how much he loved me. Yes, my dad told me he loved me but it wasn't until he was gone that I learned from my mom just how deeply he loved me and how special I was to him. For a long time I had the wrong idea about him...I just thought "Yea, he loves me, but parents always say that." But I never knew when he said that just how much meaning and love he put into those words. So for a long time I had the wrong idea. And when I heard how much my father really loved me I almost cried. And now that I's too late.

I'll never be able to laugh with him and see tears streaming down his red face as he and I laughed together. And know I have to face the fact that he won't be there when I graduate from high school. And he won't be there for my wedding. Nor will he see me finish growing up and see my children. I guess I'll have to spend the rest of my life without him being there. You know, that day...HIS last day on this earth, I never saw his face. Nor said a word to him at all. All I remember is him placing his hand on my back as I rested before I went to school and said, "Well, goodbye boys. I don't know when I'm going to see you again." I thought nothing of it and went to sleep. Those were his last words spoken to me.

An then I heard that an AWACS plane had crashed. But I still did not know but wondered. And then in 5th period that day when I was called to the office and they came and got me I had a bad feeling. And as that door opened and I saw my mother and my brother in tears...I KNEW. And all I could do was think, "My dad was on that flight. He's dead now" And as I heard more that he died instantly I could just see him sitting there on the plane and then BOOM. The flames engulf him. I can't believe he's not coming home. And later on I could see him just lying there in the morgue. My dad's body just lying there without a sign of life. No expression on his face. Like a few moments ago he was living flesh and now he's a lifeless body. And I'm more sad for those who knew and loved my father dearly. His brothers and sisters who had just lost their big brother; his mother and father who had just lost their eldest son; his cousin who was like a brother to him; and his pastor who was very close. But also the people that knew him. I keep hearing how wonderful he was.

But even though he's gone...and we won't see that smiling face again, he still lives our hearts, in spirit, and through his children. I have his flesh on my bones, his blood runs through my veins. And our humor is very much the same. Basically I am a miniature Steve. Or as my mom would say; "I am my father's son." I can never replace my dad...but I will do my best to take care of my mother and my brother and to help with the church whenever I can. I know that's what he would want me to do. So even though his body is gone...he's still here. It brings tears to my eyes when I see how many people he's left behind and how many people cared for him. And I am thankful for the comfort and support showed to us by our community, his friends, and his family. They have all made the pain easier to bear. And I know in the past I've said some things to him I shouldn't have. But I love my father very much.



Created on 8/2/97 by:

Technical Sergeant Mark Smithers, USAF
Elmendorf AFB, AK

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