Eulogy for Lawrence Russell Tippie
Mr. Lawrence Russell Tippie
Mr. Lawrence Russell Tippie
June 24, 2003
By Mr. Fred Tippie
By Mr. Fred Tippie
Thank you, Reverend Hoskin. Good afternoon to everyone. I am Lawrence's son, Fred Tippie and I welcome you to this Service and Celebration of Dad's Life. On behalf of my mother, Elizabeth and sisters, Marne, Sharon, Carol and Kathy, I want to thank you for coming short and long distances to show your love and respect for the dearly departed head of the Tippie family. I hope you have been able to read the touching obituary that mother composed. What a fine job she did!
I especially want to welcome the grandchildren and let them know that their grandfather did pass peacefully. Dad had class and there was no anger, shouting, whimpering or recriminations.
Dad loved song lyrics. "Sleepy Time Gal" -"Please Remember This, A Kiss Is Just A Kiss" -"Love Laughs At A King; Kings Don't Mean A Thing On The Street Of Dream" -"Dream When You're Feelin' Blue" He could sing continuously his repertoire without repetition to Calgary and back or Kalamazoo or Timbuktu and back...
Now I'd like to read some of the words to a song called "The Heart" by Kris Kristofferson:
"My Daddy was a charmer, boys, he had a lot of style. He was the shining best at everything he did.
Said that he could lighten up a room with just a smile. I was proud as hell to be his kid.
Seems like just as we were growing close together, he was gone but it was long enough to show what I could be
and I sometimes feel his spirit fill my body; like a song and this is what my daddy sings to me. The heart is all that matters in the end."
And my dad, Lawrence, had a big heart right to the end. When my son, Brett and I popped into his hospital room little more than a week ago - he reared his head, smiled broadly and exclaimed "Well! Look who's here!" Soon we were engaged in conversation and he wanted to know how we were and where we'd been. He talked about Brett's career, the Stanley Cup, wondered if I had put on a couple of pounds or had gone into too much debt lately. He then made a humorous reference to the bald heads of powerful people that made us all laugh.
EARLY DAYS, TRAVEL, KIDS
Dad was born in 1918 and grew up just in time for the depression of the 1930's. These were different and difficult times in spite of the 5 cent meals he liked to recall. He bravely rode the boxcars with many other young men of that day and could describe cold nights in Ashcroft, B.C. and rainy days in Winnipeg, far from his Alberta farm home.
Because of his good manners and likeable personality, other hoboes encouraged him to forage food from people who had denied them. Over the years, Dad would often quote Oliver Twist: "Please sir, may I have some more".
Dad understood kids. He said although they lacked power, their perceptions were clear. When Grandpa Jesse would give us underwear and socks, Dad would tell him to buy things for their minds and souls, as well as bodies. His attitude helped me a lot in my school teaching career. He had a fine sense of occasion and bought his full share of ball gloves, boutonnieres, perfumes and bouquets of flowers.
He knew what was appropriate and turned over his shotgun to the R.C.M.P., donated significant antiques to the Provincial Archives and directed family heirlooms to the right relatives. He was a man who knew how to keep Christmas well. He had a gift for giving good gifts and knew how to wrap them to. As kids, we had to learn to distinguish "Snickle Fritz", Pootwoddle" and good and bad "Foofers".
Dad loved to travel and before taking us places we'd hear him singing "Flagstaff Arizona, Don't Forget Winona, Barstow and San Bernadino" -"Sioux City Sue" and "Oklahoma City is Mighty Pretty". Dad seemed never to lose his directions, travelers cheques or forgot addresses and prices of things. He was not fond of telephones and thought coffee and radios had no place in cars. He loved airplane rides from 1930 open-cockpits, to Russian Illushin Jets to - more recently - helicopter swoops over the Queen Charlotte Islands in his 70's.
Dad enjoyed funny jokes and gentle wit. This made him great company. His friend, Alex Campbell once offered Dad a business calendar grandiosely. Said Did: "I'll have to first see it. I may not want it". He could hold his own with Kathy's Irish/Aussie friends and any of my friends. My wife, Bridget remembers her father-in-law as a very fair man who tried hard to make welcome his in-laws and talk interestingly about their interests and concerns. He loved fun and games from "She The Old Pony, Shoe- The- Old Mare.. ..Let Little Jakes' Foot Go Bare!" to whisker rubs and serious bridge games. He pretended to endure family canasta matches. He liked all sports from horse shoes to football. He was competitive, analytical and informed.
Dad read voraciously and everything from "Ring" and "Downbeat" magazines to Cervantes and Victor Hugo. He once called himself a "Fellow Trollopian". He probably had read Martin Chuzzlewit six times and could give you precise dates of his readings. He was a teacher and loved to talk books.
A PASSIONATE MAN
Dad was a passionate man who reacted intensely to post office mail, great tales, haunting melodies, bonfires, cats, thunderstorms and blizzards. He was fascinated by weather and skies all his life, Sharon said. I remember muskrat hunting with dad. We'd sleep quietly in a hill hollow until the wind went down and then explode excitement when he saw something move. He had such a lively nervous system!
He was especially curious about old things -coins, stamps, jewelry, maps, documents, bottles and tools. In his Antique Shop, he cared more that people listened and learned about his objects than making a sale. I thought sometimes he operated a kind of a Free Public Museum. He knew his stuff. He really was an expert gardener and thought gardens "Heavenly Things". He gave me the hoe he purchased from MacLeod's Store in 1939, the year he was married. Hoes and rain gauges.
Jack Lamden and Jimmy Wilson were two of Dad's best friends. Jim always called Dad "Lawrency" -A nickname I never used. Dad had pen pals in New Zealand, New York and Estonia. He corresponded with the Postmaster of Romantic Pitcairn Island. He entertained Pat Boone and Gordie Howe in his Stamp Shop. Dad disdained the sanctimonious and priggish. He could keep a secret. Who shot him in the leg as a teenager? How much money was in his pocket as he walked by Charlie Russell's place? Still, he said that anyone could read his Diaries and not be offended. In the end, he had no secrets.
My father was a husky, proud and able man who boxed, fixed machinery, tied tight shoelaces, drove a tractor, pitched hay, chopped wood, pounded fence posts, dug fall-out shelters and ran very fast footraces. 0n June 9, 1943, (my birthday) he walked from Endiang to Stettler to visit his new son. We remember the hard work he did for us -working the land, cleaning calf sheds, weening pail bunters, picking potatoes, sorting saskatoons (which he liked), making fences, hauling coal, etc., etc., etc.
He was intelligent and independent. I remember a few of his epigrams:
"Look around; see everything there is to see"
"On report cards, comments are more important than Letter Grades; I EXPECT good grades".
"Art is anything that is finely done".
"Finish every job you start".
"Keep your workplace clean".
"Relax, a bus comes by every 5 minutes".
"If you live long enough, you're bound to catch something".
"It's easy to live a long life, just select parents who lived long lives".
"Everyone has done things they're ashamed of'.
"Be proud of your origins".
"Time waits for No man".
"Immortality is in our children".
"Even the grass needs a rest".
Dad was bravely stoical about things he couldn't see changing and this showed in the still way he held his patrician head and just looked at you. As a younger man, he'd say: "Ham Fam Fiddle Faddle with a hole in it" "Ishkabibble, I should worry" or just start whistling under his breath.
As we celebrate this long life, we realize he celebrated ours so many years before. Because he was so unique, he appreciated the uniqueness of others and showed it so generously in thought and action.
Gone is a wonderful father, husband, grandfather and friend. I'll miss hanging onto the sturdy hammer strap on his overalls. Carol says we'll hear his laughing voice forever. Kathy says he made us and our children feel secure. Marne, who knew him longest, sounded so sad when I speak to her.
Dad always told us kids to try to be people that others want to have around. He's remembered at Victoria Park, as a kind, patient and caring person. We're trying to be your kind of person, Dad!
... another random musing