J. Gives Eulogy for His Dad
Thu., Jan. 16. 2020 12:43pm EST
J. Jackson, lead singer and lyricist for ApologetiX here yet again.
My father's funeral was on Wednesday, and I gave the eulogy. I've included the transcript below for anybody who would like to know more about the man who played such a key role in making me who I am.
A Tribute to Frank Jackson
You know, even though my father can now officially be referred to as the late Frank Jackson, that's really no different than the previous 90 years. Even his funeral is happening almost a week after he died. I think he'd get a kick out of that; Dad had a great sense of humor.
Let me start this by saying that obviously nobody knows my dad like my mom; she lived with him for almost 67 years and knew him for 70 years. But I can also say that nobody knows my dad the way *I* know Him – because I'm his only son.
Now I am not implying that I had a better relationship with him than my three older sisters did, because I know he loved us all the same. He was an equal-opportunity encourager. That was one of the many great things about him.
He told me many times over the years about how he felt when he was in the maternity ward waiting room and they came out and they told him he had a son. After three daughters, he couldn't believe it. He wasn't expecting a boy. I understand. God blessed me with four daughters first, then a son.
It's easier that way. All three of my poor sisters had boys right out of the gate. They were thrown to the wolves. My Dad and I each had time to prepare.
People have come up to me to express condolences about my dad, and I've shared a couple stories with them, and I've often said that there is so much to say about him that I could write a book. But now that I think about it, that's ironic, because my dad didn't read books.
But he was no dummy. In fact, he didn't just stop at 12 years of schooling. He had 13! I only found that out in the last decade. As it turns out, one year, they didn't have enough desks in the classrooms at the Catholic grade school where Dad and my Uncle Regis (who was two years older) attended, and so when it was time for them to move to the next grade, they held both of them back! My Grandmother Jackson was a teacher there – and not a person who was afraid to speak her mind -- but she apparently never said anything about it.
Speaking of school, most of you don't know this, but my dad's first-grade teacher was the same nun who was my first-grade principal – Sister Teresina. Ironically, when she had him, it was her first year as a teacher, and when she had me, it was her first year as a principal. I must have reminded her of him, because she sometimes called me Frank – even though it was 35 years later!
But any time anybody wants to tell me I remind them of my dad, I'll take that as an extreme compliment.
Dad grew up to be a wise man and a smart businessman. I worked with him at his printing company, Foothills Litho. All my sisters did that, too, when they were growing up, but I got to do it for at least a dozen years. I started out doing filing there on Saturdays in junior high. I finished working full-time in the production office for my first three years out of college. He and I talked business a lot, even long after I left Foothills. He helped me a lot in my own business, too.
My dad was the main reason I never had any trouble believing in a loving Heavenly Father. He always made me feel so loved and appreciated. He was very vocal about it. Every single phone call he would tell me he loved me and loved talking with me.
Like our Heavenly Father, my earthly father was merciful and slow to anger. It took a lot to get him mad, but I was capable of doing that occasionally when I was growing up. But if he got mad, it was always because I earned it. And as soon as I did whatever I should have been doing in the first place, his anger was gone. He didn't hold grudges.
My dad was really easygoing, too. One of our favorite family quotes from my dad was the time he said, "There ain't no rocket ships taking off!" We thought it was so funny and we've requoted it so many times that I can't remember the context, but I think his point was there was no need to rush.
As the old Commodores song goes, he was "Easy like Sunday morning." And that's funny, because Sunday mornings were never easy. Mom would have us in the car and she'd be there, too, waiting for him, sometimes with her hand on the horn.
Dad never missed church, though – in fact, some years during Lent he'd go to church for 40 days in a row. He was a praying man, and he loved the Lord. When I was in seventh grade, I asked him to be my sponsor for confirmation.
You know, David isn't really his middle name; it's his confirmation name. He didn't have a real middle name. Dad was born the same year the Great Depression started, and his family couldn't afford a middle name.
I think it's appropriate that such a vital part of his name came at his own confirmation, because that's when you're supposed to make your own choices about your faith. I asked Dad five or 10 years ago if he'd always been so religious, and he said no. He said he got serious with the Lord right before he left for the army.
You may not know this, but Dad was stationed in occupied Germany during the Korean War. He found out later that the group he was in was originally scheduled to be sent straight to Korea, but a last-minute change sent them to a much safer location. I'm eternally grateful for that.
About seven years ago, he told me something he'd never revealed before. He said that when I was a little boy, he used to come in after work when I was asleep (he'd work during the day, come home for dinner, and often work afterward) and he'd look in on me and pray, "He's Yours, Lord. I'm giving him to You. Well, he's already Yours anyway. But whatever you want him to be — a priest, minister, whatever -- I'll help him be that." It really blew my mind when he told me that. He told me that again a month or two ago.
Back in 2013, he came to watch me sing at worship concert at my church. On the ride home afterward, he told me, "Tonight after you finished singing, 'I heard a voice behind me saying, 'That's my son, John." And there was nobody sitting behind your mother and me (they were in the back of the church). I know it wasn't your mother. And I know it wasn't me. It was God." You have to understand that Dad was not Pentecostal or charismatic, nor was he prone to exaggeration or excessive imagination. He wasn't senile, either.
My dad did like an eclectic mix of preaching, though. He told me once that he liked to listen to Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel and Dr. R.C. Sproul. Those were two of my favorites, too, but I never expected Dad to say that. R.C. Sproul, who just died two years ago himself, was known as one of the greatest theological minds of the last century. Dad first got to know him while doing printing work for R.C. many years ago when R.C. was still based in Ligonier.
Of course, when I was growing up he also liked to listen to Father Ron Lengwin on KDKA Radio on a show called Amplify. And he and mom used to watch Jim and Tammy Bakker, too, but I think that was more for entertainment purposes.
After I got old enough to stay up late, I have vivid memories of passing by my parents' open bedroom door and seeing Dad praying by the side of bed for long periods of time in his underwear. TMI? Sorry.
I used to wonder what he was praying about and how he was praying, but in later years, when I got to hear him give the blessing at the dinner table, it was always precious to hear Him start out his prayers by saying, "Jesus …" and talking to the Lord personally. That's why I asked if we could have a picture of Jesus on the prayer cards they gave out today.
In the last 10 years, when his health had been fading and he was in the hospital and rehab a lot, I would offer to pray with him when I visited and sometimes on the phone, and he was always all for that.
Growing up, I loved the way my dad would put his arm around me when we were in church, even when I was home from college. I try to do that with my wife and my kids, too.
Another vivid memory I have from church growing up is hearing Dad sing. He grew up in the Big Band Era, and he tended to croon when he sang. To this day, I can hear him singing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below …" and "Faith of our Fathers, living still …"
And speaking about faith of our fathers … One time, several years ago, he said this to me: "You know how God said 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' about Jesus? That's how I feel about you."
Since my dad used a quote God the Father said about His relationship with God the Son, I'd like to use a couple quotes God the Son said about His relationship with God the Father. I think these quotes parallel my own relationship with my father.
"Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19)
And He also said:
"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)
What I'm trying to say is that if you see good things in me as a man, a husband, a father, a friend … well, consider the source. My dad gave me an incredible blueprint to follow.
Oh, by the way, both of those quotes from Jesus are found in the Gospel according to … John. Of course.
I'll leave you with something else my dad told me a long time ago: "Always give to God – don't expect it back – but you will get it back." Now my dad was talking about finances at the time, but I think what he said applies to everything in life, and I think his life was a testimony to that.
A famous preacher once said the following, and I think it applies well to my dad:
"Someday you will read or hear that I am dead. Don't you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."
You know what, folks? For once, my dad got someplace earlier than the rest of us.