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Summary: I am deeply grateful to all of you who have expressed your prayers and concerns for our family during this difficult time. Thank you so much for coming to this service and for all that you have done to express your love over the last couple of days.

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In Honor of My Father - Sebert Reed "Jake" Nelson

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Comments: I am deeply grateful to all of you who have expressed your prayers and concerns for our family during this difficult time. Thank you so much for coming to this service and for all that you have done to express your love over the last couple of days – the food (many of my favorite dishes), the conversation, the memories, and the telephone calls. Someone even handed me a poem that she had written about my dad.

I also want to thank those who made this service possible. I have often stood before hurting families, searching for the right words and phrases to say to help them process their loss. Today, I am the one hurting and your words have comforted me as well as the entire family. Two prayers that all of us have prayed as we deal with this ache within our chests. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” And “Help me. Help me. Help me.”

“Lord, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your providential care.” My dad was at home with my mother and Becky when he died. He died quickly and peacefully after 73 years of life. Thank you. As a baby, Daddy just about didn’t make it. After about 3 months of life, he could fit in a shoebox because his mother’s milk “did not agree with me” as Daddy would say. But somehow he survived. Thank you. His first day in the mines, slate fell on him and broke his foot and hand, but somehow Daddy survived. Thank you. Then, there was that time in the army – snipers shot the tires off of his truck but they managed to miss Daddy. Thank you. There was pneumonia in 1990 when at the last minute Daddy consented to go to the hospital. That night he respiratory arrested but it was not fatal due to his location. Thank you. There was cancer in 1998. Then there was a build up of fluid, but thanks to a new drug and some good medical care, his fluid problem was alleviated and life was extended for another year. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

“Lord, help me. Help me. Help me as I process this loss.” It is difficult to refer to Daddy in the past tense as I realize that he is not accessible to me anymore. But I also realize that I have a wonderful family, all of whom are with me today and I see them as an answer to my “Help me” prayer.

I want to take this opportunity to tell my brothers and their families, my sister, and my mother, my wife and my own kids, how much more you mean to me today. In my heart, I am clinging to each one of you. Though living at a distance from some of you, I still consider you to be my very best, closest friends.

And then, I want to say something to my dad.

“One of my first thoughts daddy, when I heard about your passing, was that ‘I wish I could have had one more conversation with you.’ I wish I could have hugged you. I wish I could have told you that I loved you. I wish I could have been there for you when you were making the crossing from this world to the next. I would have liked to thank you one more time for sacrificing your body to make a living so that I could live and have a happy home to grow up in. In your diary, you wrote that you would have liked to have been a truck driver, but the extended hours on the road would have kept you from your family. Thank you for loving me in your way; for fixing my cars; for being with me when I got my first squirrel; for taking me fishing at Indian Lake; for the times we went camping in the summers; for telling me army stories about your days of service in the Korean War; left-over dinner bucket cakes; for not totally destroying me the time I accidentally gouged your lip with the frog gig; for the letters you wrote to me after I graduated from high school and left home (I still have many of them in my filing drawer and will always keep them); for the long trips that you made to see me when I lived so many miles away; for loving my kids and making our West Virginia trips always a joy; for always having the four-wheeler gassed up and ready to go; for your little riddles that would make my kids chuckle (riddles like if a hen and half would lay an egg and a half for a day and a half, how many eggs would you have?). Thank you daddy for always standing by your wife, for raising such a wonderful family. If our families turn out as good as yours, we’ll be a happy success.


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