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
broken his leg around two years old. He brought him candy. He carried him everywhere. He had such compassion for him. Jordan
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.