Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Tribute To My Father, Virgil H. Batt, at his funeral on July 15, 2013

Yesterday was my father's funeral. My brother spoke about Dad's medals and bravery in WWII, my sister-in-law spoke about grace, and I spoke about Dad's faithfulness. Here is my tribute.

I want to begin this tribute by saying that when I was in school, I always read any speech or paper that I wrote to my dad the night before turning it in. I told him I was reading it to him for his help, but the real reason was that I wanted his approval. I wanted to hear him say I had done a good job, and he always did, without fail. When you know you have a great dad, you want him to be proud of you because you love him so much. So I have a little of that same feeling today about the words I’m speaking now. Dad, I’m 50 years old, but I’m still hoping you approve. I'm sure that I always will, for the rest of my life. 

They tell me that when I was born, my dad, who already had three boys, danced a little jig of joy at the hospital when the nurse said, “It’s a girl!” 

My dad: The one who buckled my Sunday shoes and tolerated my fidgeting next to him in church. Sitting between Mom and him in the pew, I played with his hands, looked through his Bible, and often fell asleep on him or pretended to. What a blessing to have some of the very first memories of my life be that of a Godly father who was already demonstrating faithfulness. I felt completely secure throughout my childhood in his commitment to God, to Mom, and us. In fact, “faithful” might just be the best adjective to with which to honor Dad.

Speaking of faithfulness, near the end of his time, I spoke with Dad about God and this cancer situation. I said, “Dad, many people in your position would struggle with God at this point because you’ve been so faithful to Him, and now you are afflicted with this. Do you ever feel disappointed in God or wonder where he is now?” And he shook his head vigorously as if to underscore the opposite and said, “No, NO—never! He is always faithful, always good! Always with me!”

On his last day at home, I sat by his bed close to him, and we sang hymns together. His voice was weak, but he was still carrying a tune and affirming his faith by singing, “Love Lifted Me,” “Trust and Obey,” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and “When We All Get to Heaven.” I will cherish that time the rest of my life.

Another way Dad demonstrated faithfulness was that he spent many years serving God and the people in our church in both leadership and servant roles.  He has served in every capacity from Sunday School Superintendent to custodian. To this day, when I run into people from the past, they seem very intent about sharing the impact Dad had on them. He was a quiet man, but his influence was far-reaching and meaningful to many.

I have so many sweet childhood memories that I will cherish forever. On summer evenings when I was playing in the neighborhood and saw his car round the bend for our street, I would make eye contact with him and race him home. Sometimes he let me win! (If you know anything about the Batts and racing, then you know that was quite something!) Then I’d watch him scrub up for dinner as if he worked in a coal mine. He was so clean. He enjoyed every delicious meal mom made.

Like any kid does who has a great dad, I look for similarities between my father and me. He loved his La-Z-Boy recliner, the newspaper and being in the sunshine. I love those things, too. He loved working word puzzles and spelling, eating foods that were fried or cooked to the extreme side of “well-done,” and the Andy Griffith show. I do, too. He yawned and sneezed very loudly. Me, too. He always kept a stash of chocolate on his dining room table that I helped wipe out. He liked neat, tidy surroundings and ice cream. I do, too. More than anything, he loved our family holiday dinners. The last and best meal he had eaten for a long while was the one this last Father’s Day which Kim prepared. I think he was determined to enjoy every morsel he could that day, surrounded by his family, talking, laughing, watching old home movies.

By the way, my favorite home movie is the one where I am about 6 months old, and he is swinging me in the air in very high arcs with LOTS of energy and enthusiasm! It sort of takes my breath away to see it now, but there is complete joy and confidence on both of our faces. I was always safe with Dad. He was completely trustworthy.

I see the pictures of him in his young years, and I see why mom fell for him--so handsome, especially in that uniform! But by the time I was born, he already had quite a bit of gray hair. He had the bluest eyes, softest hands, silky white hair. His appearance made him stand out in a crowd, not just because of his height but also because of the quiet dignity that seemed to draw your attention.

He had certain phrases he repeated throughout life, like when you asked him, “How are you?” he would often answer, “Fine, fine, fine.” Even in one of his last days, I asked him, “How are you today, Dad?” and he whispered, “Fine, fine, fine,” when I know that physically, at least, he did not feel fine. So very brave in battle in WWII, so very brave in the battle against cancer.

I want people to know that throughout this battle, he never complained. It took him a long time to acknowledge the physical pain. Near the end, when my brothers and I felt so inept in our awkward, bumbling care of him at home, he never once uttered a negative word or showed signs of grumpiness but thanked us often for helping.

As a grandfather to my children, Dad was patient and loving and often worried about my kids. One of my favorite memories of him as a grandfather is the way he rigged up a couple of rolling toys when they were babies and pulled them around the interior of our house in large circles. We would sit in one room chatting or watching TV, and they would travel quietly by us lap after lap after lap. And I’ll never forget the way he doted on Jordan when he broken his leg around two years old. He brought him candy. He carried him everywhere. He had such compassion for him. 

Also, to the grandchildren here today, I want to say that in one of the last conversations I had with Grandpa, he told me he hoped very much that you would teach your children, his great grandchildren, about the Lord by reading them Bible stories and teaching them about Jesus. He was very specific about that desire. 

Finally, I want to say that my dad was an overcomer of great and sad odds stacked against him from birth but was never bitter about his circumstances. I want to say he was a brave soldier, servant of God and of people, influential, loving, patient, sacrificial, hard-working, committed, a great provider, handsome, optimistic, fun-loving, clean, honest, Godly, sweet and … did I mention “faithful?”

At the beginning of this tribute, I talked about always wanting to please my father. I think Dad felt that way about his heavenly Father. My desire was to hear my dad say, “Well done, Daughter” regarding my assignments. I believe Dad lived his life with the goal of hearing those words from his heavenly Father. I believe that when Dad left us, he took the hand of the One who created him and allotted him all the days and moments of his life and heard the words, “Well done, Son! Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done on all of your assignments: Soldier, Servant, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather--Well done!”  And I believe Dad was, at that moment, the happiest, healthiest, and most joy-filled he’s ever been. I will miss him, but I do not begrudge him that experience. 

We love you, Dad. We all join in and say, “Well done!” We are right behind you and will see you soon!


MUNCIE - Virgil H. Batt, 91, went home to be with his Lord and Savior Thursday, July 11, 2013, at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
He was born February 11, 1922 in Muncie, the son of Walter and Lena Newton Batt, and attended school in Muncie.
Virgil was an Army veteran of WW II and was highly decorated for his service to his country.
He was a semi-truck driver for Federal Express, Associated Transport and Gordon's Transport prior to his retirement.
He was a member of Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene, New Horizon Church of the Nazarene, and the Teamsters Local #135.
Surviving are his wife, Delphia Lucille Garrett Batt, to whom he had been married seventy-one years; three sons, Larry Batt (wife, Sherry), Gaston, Jack Batt (wife, Kristie), Portland, and Donald Batt (wife, Kimberly), Muncie; his daughter, Linda Crow (husband, George), Muncie; eight grandchildren, Larry Batt, Brian Batt, Chase Batt, Christopher Batt, Matthew Wood, Kaylin Peters, Jordan Crow and Kristin Crow; three great-grandchildren; three sisters, Wanda Jackson, Muncie, Phyllis Edwards (husband, Frank), Muncie, and Jeanne Sims (husband, Charles), Fullerton, California; his brother, Donald Hunt, Simi Valley, California; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister, and three brothers.
Services will be 1:00 p.m. Monday, July 15, 2013 at Parson Mortuary with Pastor Mike Konkle officiating. Burial will follow in Gardens of Memory, where military rites will be conducted by the Veterans of Delaware County Honor Guard.

The family will receive friends from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday and an hour prior to the services on Monday at the mortuary.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

National Running Day 2013

Well, I stated it awkwardly and then there was no editing allowed, no turning back ....

But that's the difference between running and a lot of things for me. I don't have to worry about running. I just get out there and do it. I COULD choose to worry--about time, pace, form, discipline, etc., but mostly I just choose to move, preferably soaking up sunshine. I may joke about my slow and stiff form, but actually, no one has to translate what I'm doing when I'm out there. It's very simple; I'm just running.

I see a lot of pictures and badges with relevant, inspiring quotations on them, and I even save some, but none says it all, what it really means to me. It's hard to put into words what inspires us and elicits passion. The painter, the musician, the dancer, the writer, the athlete--If you're a professional, you do it for money and maybe the love of it. If you're an amateur, you may do it for love and the challenge. If you sort of ka-lump along in an echelon beneath even the amateur, it's hard to say why you love it. In fact, for the ka-lumpers, it seems like there are more reasons NOT to love it. But there is something in those of us who love it, even those of us who plod along, that draws us to it like the proverbial moth to the flame, like rubber to the road.

All I know is, it is a gift that I do not take for granted. It's a gift that demands something from you, like a great teacher demands something from a pupil. You never know from day to day what the lesson will be. Sometimes the teacher is sly and clever, sometimes stern, sometimes playful. Sometimes this Teacher exercises the brain, sometimes brawn. A good teacher is there consistently, and at the beginning of each day, requests some kind of growth from you. The pupil gets out of it what he puts into it. There are days when the pupil resents the teacher, but as he looks back on his growth, he appreciates so much the lessons offered. He may never be surpass or conquer the teacher, but he is a better person for the experience, physically, emotionally, spiritually. And that's why I'm celebrating National Running Day. Lace 'em up!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Smelling Roses

Just completed a four-mile walk along my usual route.

One part of the course leads me right up to a bush of climbing roses similar to the one in the pic. They hang off a mailbox and arc just over the curb and into the street and meet me about chest height.

Every time I run or walk this course, I must not be looking more than a few steps ahead of me because the red blooms seem to pop up in the blink of an eye. Do I really keep my eyes on the ground so much? Do I really have that kind of tunnel vision? Apparently so.

And every time that I have to shift my step slightly to the right to avoid the arc, I have to make the decision to either ignore the roses or stop and smell them.

The first time I stopped and pressed my nose into them, I felt slightly embarrassed that people might see me and slightly guilty for enjoying someone else's property, but I'm mostly beyond those feelings now and stop frequently for a second to follow the old dictum to "stop and smell the roses."

The act of taking that moment does have an effect on my state of mind. It's too bad flowers have to literally jump out at me like muggers to get my attention and appreciation.

In Indiana, we wait from late October until mid-May for just such a moment. There are many winter days that I spend marking off a mental calendar waiting for spring like it's my parole.

But when I'm "on task," running, sometimes the thing I've longed for gets ignored. The sweetness that I've been waiting for goes unappreciated.

The poignancy of the routine of deciding to stop or dodge the beautiful mundane is not lost on me. I try to draw it all in every time now, as if I'm banking it for winter.

There will come a day when I can no longer run, or walk or stop to smell the roses. Today is not that day.

Monday, June 03, 2013

On Missing People

This is not an original thought, I'm sure, but when I was running just a little while ago,  I realized the poignancy of being in human in this respect: we are able to miss things before they're gone--the love of your life before they say good night to leave you, a child before he is fully grown, and a parent before he dies. 

We were created to dread separation, crave unity and kinship, and long to share life.

I am missing some people. Some are already gone, and some are in the process of going. I miss them all. Sometimes, it all looks hopeless.

"But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. 25 However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it. 26 In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words.27 All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people. 28 We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.[d]" ~ The Book of Romans

I am grieving, but not without hope. If I knew the ending of the story, there would be no call for faith or hope, and those are beautiful things you don't want to miss out on in this life. 

"Maybe it's not about the happy ending. Maybe it's about the story." I have hope for a happy ending. But I have faith for a great story. Holding on, holding on. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Anatomy of a Procrastination of a Run

Morning runs are best for me. At age 50, I'm finding it more difficult to get up earlier and retain the enthusiasm from the night before when I set my alarm.

Nevertheless, a couple of nights ago I did set the alarm, and this is what happened before I ever got out the door:

1. Awoke to dog mess in my laundry room. Had to clean up poo before I was fully awake, before coffee. Hello, cruel world.
2. Allergies burst forth like the grand finale in a fireworks display. It was nonstop sneezing and blowing for about 15 mins. How can a body manufacture this much water?
3. Coffee.
4. Checked Twitter and Facebook, because, you know, I might have missed what you posted about the weather or what you ate for breakfast or what art project YOUR dog made for you this morning.
5. Used the bathroom. Many, many times. This is OCD imperative for me. I freak out on a run if I have to ....
6. Checked the weather, both out the window and on two apps. Not happy about any of the results. Checked weather in Siesta Key. Much better.
7. Selected running clothes. Long-sleeved sweat-wicking shirt, pants with zippers at the ankles (who thought up that skin irritation catastrophe?) Nathan belt for tissue, pepper spray, phone, Band Aids. New socks. Shoes. Ponytail.
8. Bathroom again. 8b. And again.
9. Grabbed Ipod. Headphone wires tangled like a Zentangle.
10. Tried to download new tune from Itunes, technical difficulties.
11. Couldn't find sunglasses. Wore dollar store variety.
12. Couldn't find Chapstick. Wore actual lipstick because I couldn't stand the dryness. Stunning coral lipstick, SO appropriate for a run.

*Out the door!*

Stopped at mile 1 to get tiny rock out of shoe ....