Thursday, November 06, 2014

Missouri Trip - Part 3 Kaci's Eulogy

Written and spoken by Mrs. Kaci Morgan Below at her Grandfather’s funeral (Ford's Dad); William Morgan Sr. November 3, 2014, Advance, Missouri.        

The week before Grandpa died, we were talking and he starting telling me a few things about how he wanted his funeral done.  He said not to go overboard with the obit, start the funeral on time and try not to get into an argument with my Dad right before the funeral starts (we have a tendency to do that).  Then he said, “Maybe it would be nice if you said a few words.”  And we all know when he told you to do something; you did it and didn’t ask any questions.
          The last couple of weeks I have thought about how lucky I am.  I’m lucky because I got to be Big Bill Morgan’s granddaughter.
          For the last 18 years, I walked into my job and from April to October, my Grandpa was there.  He had taught my Dad the business well and I was blessed to be taught by both my Grandpa and my Dad.   Many people don’t get to experience being taught your trade that way.  He was proud of the way my Dad ran the family business.  He once told me my Dad was the best embalmer he had ever seen.  He wasn’t so proud of him when he lost cemetery lots in a card game but honored the lots because he understood not walking away from a good card game.
          When he would leave in the fall to go to his home in Florida, he would always say “If I don’t make it back from Florida put me in whatever casket isn’t selling.” When he returned in the spring I would always say, “Thank God you made it back, we still haven’t sold that pink casket.”
          The talks we had were priceless.  His life reads like an interesting history book about the Greatest Generation.  I loved hearing his stories about when he was a kid, which always involved his brother, Jack and baby sister, Patricia.  Jack was his best friend and Patricia, he loved more than words.  He told me after he graduated from Advance High School at 16 years old, he wanted to go to medical school and be a doctor like old Doc Masters, but his father told him NO, he had a family business to carry on.
          After his time serving in the Army in WWII he went to St. Louis School of Mortuary Science.  He returned home and ran the funeral home until 1979, when my Dad took over.  He once told Leeman, he conducted his first funeral by himself when he was 14 or 15 years old.
          He told me stories about seeing the Rat Pack and Elvis perform in Vegas, meeting Harry Truman, running the local ambulance service (that his sons often helped him with) and all of the babies he delivered when they couldn’t make it to the hospital.          
          He enjoyed a good drink, preferable bourbon and a chew.  He was an excellent hunter and fisherman.  In the summers he would take his boys to Norfork Lake on vacation.  And he loved to read.
          He always had a way with words.  When he told you something you better listen because he was only going to tell you once.
          A few days after my mother died he told me he understood because his mother had died when he was 5.  He said the world can be cruel and unfair but I could not be angry or mad the rest of my life.  That I was a Morgan and we were tough.  Then we loaded up in the old blue Ford and he took me to buy scratch off lottery tickets because that’s what we were into at that time…. I was 11.
          When Lane was born, Joan said my Dad called Grandpa and told him he was never going to believe that Lane looked just like them.  Grandpa showed up at the hospital, looked him over and told me I had done well. I’m pretty sure it was because he looked like a Morgan and it didn’t hurt that I had named him William.
          He would come to the park and watch my boys play baseball.  He loved being there but not just to watch my boys but to see all the people in the community, always greeting them with a handshake, like the gentleman he was.  He helped organize and start Little League baseball in Advance.  I think it made him proud to see that program still thriving. Every year he asked me how many kids signed up to play. 
          He believed in giving back to his community.  Because in his words, “This is the community that feeds us.”
          He loved Advance High School basketball.  He told me countless stories about his sons’ games.  But he also said some of the best games were played on the goal at his house.  That some nights those boys would play all night long.  But that didn’t bother him because that way he always knew where his boys were.  He also talked about trips he made to watch Benny play at Austin Peay and my Dad at Three Rivers.  In the last few years he was still watching Advance games on the laptop at his home in Florida.
          This past spring I was stressed and worrying about where Lane was going to play his college ball.  Grandpa told me it didn’t matter where he was bouncing that ball just as long as he got a college degree.  He was very proud that all of his children and grandchildren were college educated.  He said the key to success starts with being educated.  He was proud of the lives his kids and grandkids had made for themselves.
          He was so proud when Tiffany got married.  He had the best time at her wedding. And looked dapper as ever in his tux as he walked her down the aisle.  He said his little girl was beautiful and had his blue eyes.  He was proud when Walker was born as well as the twins, Margaret Morgan and Kathryn Harper (named after his mother). 
          One day I came back to the funeral home after lunch.  It was summer break.  My boys had decided to play baseball in my living room.  They had broken the ceiling fan and the wood blinds.  I WAS FURIOUS! Grandpa laughed and said, that was nothing.  That when my Dad was little he had wrapped Ford in a blanket and thrown him through a glass door at their house.  Grandpa replaced the door.  My Dad again wrapped Ford in a blanket and threw him through the newly replaced glass door.  Two doors in one week.
          He said when his boys were little he really didn’t have to worry about Benny, he didn’t get into too much trouble but little Bill and Barry Ford he had to keep an eye on.
Grandpa loved the St. Louis Cardinals.  He told me about taking his boys to Old Sportsman Stadium with Jack and Salty.  He went with Dad and me to take Lane to his first game when he was one.  We got to see Mark McGuire hit home runs #63 and 64 at night.  In the 9th inning he said we had to go to beat the traffic and get out of the park before my Dad tried to buy it for Lane.  I had a satellite put in the office several years ago just so we could watch afternoon Card games together.
          He was happy when Benny moved home to Missouri because that also meant he got to see Travis more.  And he loved Christina.
          The week before he died, I told him I had to go to Jack’s parent/teacher conferences and that I would be back when they were over.  I got back to the house told him that Jack’s grades were pretty good, but I was worried he was getting by on his charm with some of his teachers.  Grandpa laughed and laughed and said he knew another Jack with charm like that.  He said it was alright because we could always use charm like that shaking hands at the front door.
          He enjoyed his winters in Florida with Nana Joy by his side.  The winters also meant he got to spend time with Ford, Aly and AA and JK and Leaa and their kids.  And that made him happy. 
          He was proud when Nikki went to Mizzou and made the cheerleading squad. And he enjoyed getting to see Morgan and Regan.
          He loved Joy so much.  They were married for 43 years.  She took care of him in every way.  Her wonderful meals she cooked him and her calm, loving, caring demeanor.  He loved Debbie, Donna, Michael and Candy and their kids as his own, there was never any step involved.  He enjoyed his time spent with them.  Candy said he made their lives better.  I’m sure that is true but it is also true that they made his life better.
          He had a special place in his heart for his nieces and nephews and Jan. 
He loved the town of Advance and the town loved him.  I couldn’t even tell you how many people have called or stopped me in town the last couple of months wanting to know how he was.  They would all tell me a story of how he had helped their family in some way or simply what a good man he was.
          He liked being called Big Bill, but more than anything he liked when Joy called him “honey”, or he was called Pop, Grandpa or Big Pop.
          He lived his life on his terms and has left a great legacy behind.

1 comment:

Stephe said...

Sending my deepest Sympathies to your entire family. What an amazing life to have lived and an amazing man. You all were blessed. Kaci's eulogy was beautiful. Hugs.