Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"this is small stuff" (in loving memory of William Halsey Braus - a eulogy)

Elkhorn Garage - Elkhorn, WI - 7/31/14
 My father was many things. He was a faithful man, a husband, a father, a brother, a son, a friend, an electrician, and a jokester— just to name a few of the roles he played. But what can I really tell you about my dad? He liked his family together, preferably the whole extended family, surely around an overfilled holiday dinner table. He liked his hot dogs Chicago-style sans the relish. He preferred his lawn freshly mowed and a bonfire ablaze. He enjoyed second-rate (or, likely, worse) cheesy horror movies. He drank coffee by the gallon but blatantly refused to set foot in a Starbucks. My dad was the master of stereotypical dad-jokes, Halloween, loud (old) music, and embarrassing me (as well as my mom, if she was so very lucky). He kept his comedy constant and often a little dark—because, after all, life is funny, and he knew we should find ways to laugh, even when it was hard to. 
before Christmas Eve church service - 12/24/13
 In that same vein, my dad brought positivity to many situations where it was desperately needed. He was honestly a pessimist. Yet, he could be overwhelmingly positive for such a person. Even when things felt out of control to me, my dad was always quick to remind me that it could be worse, that I could get through it, and that God has a plan. For as long as I have remembered, he has given me these words to live by: ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff; it’s the big stuff that’s gonna kill ya.’ And before I could ever open my mouth to protest that it was indeed big stuff going on, he would always nonchalantly assure me with some variation of, “Kid, this is small stuff.” Despite the huge loss that many of us are feeling with my dad’s passing, I KNOW that if he could, he would say the same now. That’s the first thing he would want us to learn from his life and to remember. 
way back//my dad was a fangirl
The second thing, I believe, is to help others as often as possible with whatever abilities we have. My dad had a true servant’s heart and he’s always tried to teach me that to do something for someone else, as selflessly as possible, is the best thing to do. Many of you (who knew him) can attest to this. Whether someone needed a light installed, a dryer fixed, a lawn mowed, someone to talk to, or anything else he could help with—he was a phone call away and willing to help as long as it was within his abilities. I remember earlier this year in the middle of the night, some friends and I (they know who they are) ended up stranded in a Walgreens parking lot after a car breakdown and I called him thinking he would be annoyed but he, albeit groggily, got out of bed and came as quickly as possible. He joked around about how he got the short straw being the dad who was called at midnight but he didn’t genuinely grumble at all, even though the circumstances were annoying and frivolous. My point, is that not only would he help others in whatever situation he could (no matter how ridiculous), he did it without complaint.
~many moons ago~
 In Acts chapter 20, verse 35, the apostle Paul is delivering his parting words to the Ephesian elders. He gives a long speech and imparts all kinds of wisdom, but the last thing he tells them is this: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” I believe that amongst all the advice my father gave throughout his life, if he had been given the opportunity, his parting words to all of us would’ve been similar. My dad would’ve reminded to us to help others, even—or especially if—it’s hard, and that it is better to serve than to be served.  
Proudly posing with our massive, home-grown pumpkin - October 2012
  Finally, I know that my dad is in heaven and that this is not truly a goodbye, merely a “see you later.” Even so, it’s difficult. But in light of that I encourage you, as he would have, to use your time meaningfully by helping others. And don’t forget, as he would tell us: “this is small stuff.”
Note: I KNOW it has been forever since I have posted on this blog. But this made a reason for me to do so. My dad went home to heaven on the sixth and this is my eulogy for him.