The handsome man in the picture is my Daddy, Carl Francis White. He is credited for the title of this blog page, as it was a sentiment he used on me often whenever things turned bad. “They can’t eat ya,” he would shrug.
Daddy passed away June 1, 2020. He was 80 years old. I had the honor of writing his eulogy. I put it here for safe keeping.
For some moments in life there are no words. But, I have tried all week to come up with some. A good friend called me this morning as I was still struggling to write this eulogy. She said “words from the heart are never wrong.”
So, here I go. From the heart, for better or for worse.
I am Diane, I am the middle child of Carl Francis White. On behalf of my brother Kevin, my sister Amy, and the rest of our family, we thank you for being here. We are so grateful for your bravery and your willingness stand with us. You will forever stay in our memories as the people who showed up for us.
This brings to mind a time when I was bragging to my grandmother about being “Doll #3” in the Christmas play. Grandma said “my goodness weren’t you embarrassed to get up in front of all those people?” Daddy said “Diane doesn’t have enough sense to be embarrassed.” Being only 6 years old, I thought the word ‘sense’ meant I couldn’t afford to be embarrassed. That is what I choose to believe to this day.
A week ago, I was speaking to him and now I’m speaking over him. As we were sharing the news of his passing on Monday, we heard over and over the shock of how quickly he left us. We heard “I didn’t realize he was that sick,” or “I just spoke to him two days ago.” That was Daddy’s way. He didn’t linger over things once he made his decision. Never mind putting things off until tomorrow; he had trouble putting things off until after lunch. If Daddy had used a daily planner, each page would have said “today” and each hour labeled “now.” But Daddy didn’t use a planner. Planning wasn’t his thing. Doing was his thing.
Daddy never met a stranger. If you met him only once, he considered you his friend. He could find common ground with anyone. I believe this was the secret to his success in business. There were many times he would call me and tell me he had a friend who needed something I could provide. Then I would find out later he had just met this friend in the grocery line. Amy and Kevin have similar stories. Many of you probably do as well.
Daddy had a great sense of adventure, and even when he was punishing us kids for misbehaving there was a twinkle in his eye that showed he was secretly amused by our unwillingness to tow the line all the time. He told me the story once about when he was a teenager he and his buddies decided to take this boat out from in front of the local bait shop. The boat was there as advertisement and had been a landmark for years. Just for fun, and because they were bored, they attached the boat to his car and drug it down the street for a while before ditching it in a field. The next day the bait shop owner announced a reward for the return of the boat, which scared his buddies. As he ended the story, Daddy shrugged “the guy said no questions asked, so I pulled the boat back to the shop and claimed the reward.”
Daddy instilled in my siblings and me a strong work ethic. His pride in himself came from the work he did. Customer service, pleasing people, a job well done, being proud to put your name on a product, and giving 100% even if he didn’t have it to give. There was never a time he did not work. Mom told us that early in their marriage, he had to sell his prized 56 Chevy to pay for babies. Without a car to drive, he hitchhiked to work every day from Pottawatomie County to Oklahoma City. His growing family started out poor, but he worked every day of his life to make sure we didn’t stay that way. I know he is very proud of Kevin who labored last night after leaving the funeral home to keep a promise to a customer that he would have his seat belts for this weekend’s race. Daddy had a way of bragging that seemed like complaining, and he’d say “That Amyloo, she just don’t know how to take a day off.”
Another thing he gave us was his hands. Gene, Kevin, Amy and I … we all have Daddy’s hands. During the wintertime as he did the work required of his job as a plumber and then came home to feed livestock and toss hay, those hands would crack and bleed. Then he would slather Cornhuskers lotion all over them. As kids, we were ashamed of our hands. Friends would comment on how rough they were, how we had old man hands. We kept them in our pockets most of the time. I never wore rings or polished my nails so as to avoid drawing attention to them. We avoided shaking hands. But Daddy believed in the handshake. Daddy, we thank you now for these hands. Thank you for showing us how to use them from our daily work, to fixing things, to cracking pecans with just our fists, they have served us well.
He was the life of the party. He was loud, so very loud. He was larger than life.
Carl Francis White was a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, employer, business associate and friend. He was loved by many people, for the many ways he served them. I want to thank Buck and Wendy for being such supportive spouses to Amy and Kevin, and to Charles for being the only man I ever brought home that Daddy didn’t want to shoot on sight. After 48 years, I finally got it right.
I won’t stand here and tell you he was perfect; He certainly wasn’t. Daddy was a complex man with many faults. The trouble is, right now, I can’t think of any of them.
We love you Daddy.
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight, very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” John Wayne