I have a friend that always says: “Remember your father on Mothers’ Day. ‘Cause if your father weren’t your father, would your mother be your mother?” So while everyone else is remembering their mother today, and I’m certainly remembering mine, I also am remembering my father. Because it was one year ago today that my daddy died.
Life wasn’t always easy with my daddy. He could be gruff and hard to live with and had a keen knack for pushing people away. But he was still my daddy and I’m afraid sometimes I see some of his traits in myself. To remember him today I thought I’d share the eulogy I spoke at his funeral last year.
My father, Paul Henry “RED” Weaver, was born on January 15, 1927 in Meridian, Mississippi. He died on May 10, 2014, and was a resident of River Ridge for the last 56 years.
He was the third of eight children born to the late Earl Franklin Weaver and Bessie Sarah Manning. A brother of Mary Hall, Jessie Daniels, Margie Upton, Jack Weaver and the late Glenn, Billy and Bobby Weaver. He only had a 3rd grade education because his family was poor and moved around a lot. His father was a steeplejack, which means he painted bridges. And dad and his brothers had to help him paint them as well. Even when their father became blind, they would lead him up on the bridge so they could paint it together. He was only 15 when his father died and he then became the head of the household.
He served in the United States Navy from 1944 – 1946, stationed at the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In fact he joined the Navy just before his 17th birthday. He was very proud to have been in the Navy. And it was a privilege to take him back to Pearl Harbor 60 years later and see the memories return. He was so pleased to talk with the historians about his time there, and it was a pleasure to see how they honored and appreciated his service.
He was married to the late Rose Helen Stephens. And he loved mom. They were married for over 65 years. They were introduced by his sister Jessie, who was also one of mom’s best friends, when he returned home from serving in the Navy. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love, get married, leave Laurel, MS and move to New Orleans where they would stay and raise a family.
He is the father of Paul Weaver, Jr. (Patty), Ginger Moskau (Michael), Ann Phelps (Asia Baker), and Becky Coker (Kent); and the grandfather of Christy Moskau Hudson (Jason), Andrew Moskau, Emily Moskau and Colin Coker.
He worked for 40 years as a structural iron worker and was a member of the Local Union #58 for 65 years. He was very proud to be an iron worker and to have been a part of building most of the plants and refineries along the Mississippi River from Chalmette to Baton Rouge. He worked hard and also brought in three of his brothers to become ironworkers too.
He loved fishing and I can hardly remember a time when he didn’t own a boat.
He loved his garden. He took it very seriously and worked hard in it. And he was proud to share all the crops with family and neighbors and friends from church.
In 1989 Dad gave his heart to Jesus Christ, accepting the forgiveness and grace that God offers to each of us. Over the years he was an active member of First Baptist Church Harahan and Rio Vista Baptist Church. He enjoyed reading his Bible and having lively discussions about what he was reading and learning. And I’m thankful that I can know that he is now in the presence of God, reunited with mom, and enjoying a peace that too often he could not find here.
One last message I want to share with my siblings:
Life with dad was not all “Ozzie and Harriet”. He was often difficult to get along with. He could be demanding, opinionated and outspoken. But because he was demanding, we became hard workers. Because he was outspoken, we had to find our own voices. And because he was opinionated we learned to think for ourselves.
The last 6 months have been hard watching mom and dad both ill and dying. But it has brought the 4 of us back to a place of closeness that we haven’t had in many years. So today, as we say good-bye to dad, I hope that we can also say good-bye to the disappointments and hurts and things that we cannot change. And I pray that we will move ahead, together, in hope and love and a renewed support for each other.
So today – on Mothers’ Day – I remember my daddy.