Sunday, June 21, 2015

Remembering My Father #1: Eulogy Given At His Funeral

I've been away from this blog for a long time. There are a number of factors there, but the most significant was the illness and death of my father, Steven Haynes, earlier this year.

It's Father's Day today and it seems as good a time as any to do something I'd been meaning to do and start a series of posts of the remembrances of him which I wrote after his passing.

This was what I wrote for when I spoke at his funeral:
Growing up around my dad, seeing him every day, I didn’t have the best perspective on just how remarkable he was. I know now that not every kid has a father who sings in the symphony chorus or a father who taught themselves to be a professional computer programmer because he felt he could write better programs than the ones he was using. Or a father who founded and cultivated a classic film convention attended over its nearly fifty years by thousands of people, some of them travelling from other continents to attend. Working more closely with Cinevent recently, I’ve realized that even more than the size of the convention, the remarkable thing about it is the place it holds in the hearts of those who attend. So many people have talked about how Cinevent is one of the highlights of their year and how they came to know Steve Haynes through attending the convention over the decades. Quite a few of them had anecdotes to tell about how he did something to make the convention special for them. He was remarkable, but I just saw him as Dad.

Even if I didn’t see clearly how special his accomplishments were, I knew that he was cool, and fun to spend time with. There are so many ways his personality is reflected in my life. He was the person who introduced me to computer programming, which became in turn my own career. I remember us typing in programs out of magazines on our Commodore computers and him teaching me specific techniques when I started writing programs of my own. He used funny voices to tell stories with. Sometimes those voices even creeped me out a bit but when I’m reading to my own children, I do that too. My taste in reading, music and movies are all heavily influenced by the things he introduced me to, both as a child and later in life. A new trailer for this year’s Star Wars movie came out just days before dad passed away and, watching it, I was reminded that he and I once went to see this really mediocre Wing Commander movie just because it had a trailer for the first of the Star Wars prequels running with it. When I go to see this year’s movie, dad will be right there with me.

Dad and I had a conversation several weeks ago, one where we talked about some of the things that were important to him for us to talk about while we could. Among the things we talked about was my writing, which he encouraged me to continue. As it happens, one of the stories I wrote in January, right before dad’s diagnosis, was about a son learning to accept his own place in the world with the passing of his father. It’s not a lesson that I had expected to be learning myself anywhere near this soon. But I’m grateful for the time I had with him and know that he did his best to give me the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to have a joyful life.