These are my typed notes for my father’s eulogy delivered November 17, 2021. I improvised a bit at times, so for the full message please see the video link.
Ninety-three years is an amazing testament. Dad witnessed the invention of Tupperware, the credit card, and hair spray. None of which he ever used.
Malachi 4:6: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
This passage in the Old Testament prophet of Malachi that speaks of a special work of the Messiah in bringing people and families together. I’m thankful that before my dad departed this world, everything was said that needed to be said. It seems as Daddy grew older, it became much easier for him to say the words “I Love you.” To be the fair, most of the time it was “Love ya” or in response to us saying it, him saying “OK” or “Yeah” in return. But through the years there was a turning of Dad’s hearts to others and to the Lord.
In the Bible hearts were thought of as the center or the core of people. The life-giving source, not just in a physical sense, but in a spiritual and supernatural way, the heart gave meaning to our existence and purpose to our lives. It was viewed as the defining characteristics of our mind, will, and emotions. In short, it is our soul. We live in a day and age that seeks to define meaning through lots of different pursuits, money, education, recreation, status, stuff…but these temporal identities are poor substitutes for eternal wisdom. The heart remains and along with it, the challenge to guard it, because from it, Scripture tells us from the heart flows the wellspring of life. Jesus famously said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
As I reflect on the heart of my father, James Roy Loyd, I must admit that at first glance it would be easy enough to dismiss the contents of his heart as somewhat of a mystery. In most instances, Dad was a man of few words. He let his actions do the talking. And his actions were resolute. If he decided to do something he did it, like Frank Sinatra sang, he did it his way. I think all of us in the family can agree that Daddy could be incredibly frustrating at times in his ways of doing things. He had a specific way of wanting things done. What mattered to him was both the product and the process. Both were equally important. I like to think that I’m immune to most any criticism considering it was often my job to hold the light for my dad.
But Daddy was consistent in his ways. He was faithful to the land cultivating and nurturing the soil that produced miracles of growth. His giftings in producing vegetables and his ability to cook will be missed. We will always be grateful for how Daddy loved us. Rarely did he give us what we wanted, but we always had plenty of what we needed, provided what we needed was on sale. Like Black Cherry Ice cream. And we could always count on him giving practical gifts at Christmas, like one year buying our sweet mother a leaf blower. How romantic!
It was a great gift that Daddy gave all of us, in that he loved mom. Mom, Dad was always looking out for you. Like us, I know he didn’t provide everything you wanted, but he did provide those things you needed. I remember the time you broke your hip; Dad bought a floor sweeper to keep the house clean in your absence, a giant butterfly to decorate the walls, and a sausage grinder to umm…. well, I don’t know why he bought a sausage grinder. But he loved all of us, and if it wasn’t always evident in his words it was crystal clear in his actions.
Mama, I know one of the greatest gifts Daddy ever gave you and us, was that moment when he was baptized. I was honored that I got to experience that moment. The joy you experienced mom after years of faithful prayers for Daddy is worth everything. Daddy making his faith in Jesus known to all is a beautiful memory that we will always treasure. His faith gives us all hope for the life that is to come.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
I once asked Dad a specific question about another death in the family. “Do you remember the day your dad died?” Dad responded, “Yes, I was about six years old, he died after getting his tooth pulled.” “Who told you he died?” I asked. Dad thought for a moment, then said, “No one, I just knew.” Really? How does a six-year-old just know their dad is dead? I probed for details, there were few that came. My grandfather Jessie Lee Loyd, had a tooth pulled, blood poisoning set in and he died days later, leaving my grandmother, still a young woman, to raise five children on her own. I did learn that the dentist paid an unknown amount of money to my grandmother for some time to come as recompense for her husband’s death. From my dad, I heard about the selling and purchasing of property, the clearing of land, evacuation during the Mississippi river flood of 1937, and other moments hidden away in the memories of my Daddy. “How is it that you got along, Dad? Who told you what to do or how to do it?” I asked.
After a moment of reflection, Daddy responded, “I guess the good Lord taught me, I don’t know?” After years of trying to understand the Bible, reading a great deal of books, and pursuing a good deal of education. That’s about the best answer I think I’ve ever come across as to how any of us get along in such a challenging world. The good Lord is A Good Lord indeed.