Eulogy for my Dad
I wrote and delivered this Eulogy for my Dad when he died in Florida in 1998. After reading over it a few times I see more clearly the influence he has had on me in creating the Vanabode lifestyle.
My Dad Mitchell Odom, AKA: Uncle Mitch, Daddyo, or as he liked to call himself; Ole Dad
He never had much money but he made being poor fun. One time we were broke and only had plain pancakes for both breakfast and lunch. We did not have money for syrup so my Dad dumped strawberry jelly on our pancakes instead. I remember thinking as a child, "wow this tastes way better than normal pancakes".
Dad did not believe you had to wait until you could afford an expensive vacation to have a vacation. It was always more important to have some kind of adventure even if you could not do it first class. I mean doing nothing just because you can't afford to do anything else was unthinkable!
Our entire church of 50 to 100 people went to the Fields of the Wood in the Cherokee mountains of North Carolina but we could not afford gas and a hotel room for 4 days. Rather than stay home my Dad took us up there and we slept on park benches at rest areas. My Mom was the prettiest so she got to sleep in the car. I remember thinking this is cool, much better than a hotel.
Dad took me fishing a few times at fish eating creek near Okeechobee Florida but we never caught much of anything but turtles and one time I snagged a 4 foot alligator. One time while camping I opened up the tent flap and sprinkled chunks of apple from outside all the way inside and over to my Dad's side of the tent. About 3 am I awoke to blood curdling screams as my Dad thrashed in and out and around his side of the tent. Finally he slung a 20 pound raccoon toward the tent door where it managed to finally find its way out. He was furious but I was laughing so hard he started laughing too. We laughed for ten minutes, finally exhausted and tired we fell asleep.
Before I was healed of bronchial asthma my Mom and Dad would take turns praying over me and holding me up since laying down would nearly kill me. I remember waking up a few times because I was suffocating at 1 or 2 am in the morning and Dad would be there praying over me by the bed.
I remember I took a kids squirt gun and Dad taught me if you borrow something and never give it back that equals stealing. One time Dad was out of work and I begged him to take us on a long camping trip so he loaded up 2 canoes, my two brothers, my cousin and I for a 5-7 day Saint Johns river camping trip. We lived in those canoes during the day and slept on the ground river side at night. Chased by bull alligators, eaten by mosquitoes, and stampeded by cows most of the crew hated this trip. I loved it and to this day I have never heard of anyone else doing this.
One time my Dad drove all the way from Colorado to my RV camping spot in Cape Canaveral Florida, got 5 minutes away from where I was staying, and called and said "are ya'll home?" He was the "no planning king".
I used to judge my Dad for some of his shortcomings and misdeeds. I learned later as an adult that we never know the extent of things that have plagued a person from their childhood; hereditary issues, economic elements, social problems, parental influence, physical shortcomings, spiritual midsections. So we should not judge their character so harshly or stringently. Now I know he did the best he could with what he had. In many ways he succeeded better than most.
I remember being awakened in the middle of the night by my Dad. He scrambled to get us all loaded up and out the door to the Indian River 10 miles away. The entire river was shining a glistening for as far as the eye could see with a magical starry glow. It was a once a decade phosphorus bloom. To this day I have never seen anything like it.
My Dad bought the worlds smallest camper, then put an overstuffed full size lazy boy recliner in it. He wanted me to see his camper so I tried to get in but there was no room. I had to sit in the chair to look at the campers interior. When I suggested he take it out so two people could fit inside he said "no way man I like that chair, besides, I fiberglassed the back door shut to stop the leaks so I can't take it out anyway". I used to picture him when I had not seen him in a year, in a campsite somewhere in Florida, in the pouring rain, kicked back in his lazy boy, bible on his lap, with a credit card bill as a place holder in his hand.
My Dad loved us, worked hard for many years for us, was liked by many people, and loved God. I look forward to laughing with Dad again in Heaven one day.