Eulogy for Ross M. MacAskill
Given by Ro MacAskill
On October 7, 2005
I Samuel 3:1-11
My father was born into a life of privilege. He was born to loving and attentive parents. He was reared in a place and at a time when hard work, individual responsibility, service, patriotism, and faith, were taught and valued.
My father lived a life of privilege. He was privileged to serve his country as a Marine Corps officer for over a quarter of a century and in three wars. He was called to lead men and serve in the company of gallant and noble comrades. His life of service was also expressed in his involvement in Masonry, in his church and at the Fairfax Retirement community.
My father was privilege to be married to our mother for over 62 years, Together they forged a life of trust, affection, devotion, love and example for us, their children. They spent years apart, as did most Marine Corps families. They started a business together, they maintained contacts with their extended family across the years and miles. Dad not only loved you, Mom; he was proud to be your husband.
My father lived a life of privilege. He would say that he was privileged to watch his eight grandchildren grow up to be unique and capable young people . Although there was no doubt that Dad valued achievement, he loved each of his grandchildren not for what they had accomplished, but for who they were. And I know that he harbored the same hopes for his four great-grandchildren as well.
My father lived a life of privilege. He was privilege to have made so many important friends throughout his life-people like you here today-- who were attracted to his decency, his gentle humor, his character, and his integrity. Some of you are friends from so long ago; some became his friends just within the past few years. But he would say to you, “What a privilege I have had to know these people.”
My father, more than any man I know, taught me --by how he lived his life, by letting me watch him..
He let me watch him:
-love his wife
-love each of us
-be a father in law, and a grandfather
-be a friend
-be a leader and a servant in this world
-face life, including the end of his life
And from him I have been taught how to perform all these roles.
Three short vignettes about Dad: one about a box; the second about a prayer; and the third about an admonishment:
The first is about a box: When Mom and Dan would come to visit us, Dad would always gather together an assortment of items for Suzy and for me, but mostly for our boys. This box, tied with a rope, would be too large to carry onto the plane and almost always it would be to large to fit into the car when we picked them up at the airport. Mom would disavow any knowledge of what were the contents of this box. (She was sometimes afraid of what it might contain.) When we would get it home, we would sit around, getting reacquainted, but all the while staring at this large carton in our midst, wondering, “What did he bring this time?” We knew it would be things he thought we might need: postage stamps, envelopes, boxes of cereal, a bottle of wine. But there would be more. There might be athletic shoes, something from his childhood or from the Marine Corps which he no longer had use for. And there would be articles of clothing which he purchased, invariably these would be the wrong size and color. This box was his gift every time he came. It reflected his love, in a whimsical and tangible way. And for his grandsons, our sons, Grandpa’s box will be a lasting memory -- the gift of a grandfather.
When we were a young family, we used to travel across country in our family station wagon. Dad was not a traveler who stopped at many national parks or scenic attractions. We would get up before the sun and drive all day to our destination, stopping only to eat and to refill the gas tank. Frequently we traveled 400-500 miles over two-lane roads, stopping at a small-town motel overnight.
I remember one night, after a particularly long day, seeing my dad kneeling at foot of his bed, with his head down; I thought he was reading a book or a map in the dim light. I was worried that he would strain his eyes and not be able to see well enough to safely drive us the next day. When I interrupted him, he was not reading; he was praying--giving thanks for the and praying for our safety. It was the first time I remember seeing my father pray on his knees. But I can imagine through all the years, he has daily been praying for each of us, giving thanks and asking for our safety in our journey ahead. Can you understand the power of a man doing this for you every day?
And finally, I remember my dad getting mad at me only for one thing in my life. (He only recently told me that his own father got upset with him for the same thing when he was a boy.) When I 11, 12, 13, or 14 years old and would be playing with my friends down the street, I would get so involved that I would lose track of time. Sometimes it was a game of baseball or football, or building a fort or flying model airplanes.. (At the end of those years, I think a girl name Linda Andrews was somehow to blame.)
Well, Dad would whistle for me or yell my name because it was time to do homework or come home for dinner. And I would yell back, “What? I’M down here!” And when I did come home five minutes or a half an hour later, I was informed that when he called, it was not to a conversation across the neighborhood; it was because I was needed or wanted at home. If he did not want me at home, he would not call for me. It was that simple.
For the past several months, Dad has been out in the this life--engaged, wrestling with many emotions and realizations. enjoying, exploring, knowing that the day was waning. I believe that his Father too, has been calling him. And like me, his own earthly son of so many years ago, Dad was to busy, too afraid of what he might miss, to just go. I think Dad has spent these last few months asking his God, “What do you want? I’m not ready go yet. I’ll come home later.” But in the end, my dad did as he always did; he did the right thing. When God called the young boy, Samuel, Samuel answered, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And on that last day, when God called, Dad said simply, ”I a coming, Lord.: And now Dad is home.
My father lived a life of privilege. He told me on our final visit one another, “I have no regrets in this life.” How fortunate we all should be to be able to say that when we are called home. He knew he was a fortunate man.
My father lived a life of privilege. And so are we who knew him and loved him -privileged to know such a man.
He was a hero. And he was my father
Semper Fidelis. Well, done, Dad