a tribute to Walker William Cramer (1927 - 2001) and was read aloud
for him, his family, and friends on March 7, 2001.
Whenever he walked into a building, Dad would study the floors. He'd check out the wood surface in the entranceway, how the carpet was seamed, or how well the stairs were installed. I'm sure right now he'd be able to tell you what kind of tile they have at the pearly gates and whether or not they used the right kind of underlayment.
Any grand stairs or rooms in God's kingdom had better have been perfect when Dad arrived. If he found a wrinkle in a hall or a doorway improperly seamed, then I guarantee you right now he's got a heavenly host of angels with carpet stretchers and heat guns fixing the problem.
He always said that if the job was worth doing, it was worth doing right. And what was really worth doing right to my father was his family.
Mom said to me while Dad was in the hospital these last few weeks that he may not have always said it, but that he was very proud of all of his family and that he loved all of us very much. I believe that a man's actions speak louder than words and my father couldn't have said it louder to any of us than the way he lived his life and the memories that he made a part of us.
He was a man of few words - well, few emotional touchy feely words. On anything else, someone said if you asked him the time you'd better be prepared because he'd build you a watch. I can vouch for that; I remember asking him for directions to someplace I'd never been before in town. An hour later I had five different routes with various pros and cons to each of them. And, as far as language goes, I actually learned some of my most creative phrases from Dad - usually around Christmas when we put the lights on the tree.
I think the only things that frustrated him more than stringing lights were T.V. shows or movies that got too contrived or silly. If we could bring home a movie that Dad would sit through without comment then it was a true Oscar contender. Oh, and the IU basketball team throwing away a 20-point lead in the second half. Of course, that one bugs a lot of us.
All of the spouses for us kids had to pass the "Dad test" of approval. This wasn't anything official, but basically at some point the spouses-to-be ended up alone in a room with Dad to fend for themselves. If Dad talked their ears off - and they could hold their own - they were good enough (or crazy enough) to join our clan.
Dad would have loved to give his friends and family the world if he could have. But there isn't a material possession anywhere that could mean more than what he did give to us. Material things are fleeting. The things my Dad provided - ethics, values, and love - go on forever, a strong foundation that all of us could learn from and pass on to the next generation. All of the other memories that he gave to us - as you look at the pictures we put up or remember your times with him - are a part of who we are now.
All of those memories, those experiences, help to define who we are, and in some way - large or small - we are changed for knowing him on this earth. When I look in the mirror, I see my Dad looking back through part of my reflection. As my daughter grows up she'll know my Dad too. There will be stories and lessons that I will attribute to Dad but there will be so much more - a part of how I view life came from him and who I am as a man he helped build; these things too will go on in my daughter.
For all of us, the ways in which he changed us, or changed how we look at any part of the world, reflect in our daily lives and when we interact with family and friends. He really does live forever - in all of us - and we share him every day we experience our own lives, sometimes named in story or deed, sometimes unnamed in actions shaped by our time with him.
I am sad that my father has moved on and that I can't share more experiences with him here. I'll miss trying to explain how all of this Internet stuff works or debating old world versus new world views on anything from politics and business to how many times you need to flip the burgers out on the fire-pit. However, he is no longer tied to the limitations and pains of his body and for that I am happy. He would want us now to live the best way that we can, to be there for our families. Mom said the other night she's got her work cut out for her for quite a while just keeping the rest of us in line.
We all miss him but we will all see him again. Just as he is with my sister Brenda, his parents, Uncle Bill, Uncle Dick, and all of the loved ones he missed that went on before him; just as he is with them now, we will be with him again.
Mourn that he may be gone for just right now - but rejoice that he has gone on to the next adventure and paves the way - and with Dad I really mean he is actually paving the way - for when we meet up with him again.