Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Timothy Craig Shaw Sr. May 2016

I want to thank all my friends and family who have offered their condolences at the passing of my father. Yesterday we attended his memorial service. I have posted my remarks below for those of you who weren't able to attend. Thanks again for all the love guys.
CS Lewis once said “Isn’t it funny how from day to day things don’t change, but looking back everything is different.” The passing of my father marks the beginning of a time when our lives will forever be different. I’ve lost the man who raised me; the man who gave me a role model to follow; and the man who I wanted to grow up and be like. But today I’d like to take you back to a happier time when my day to day life didn’t seem to change much. When, as a kid, I was right where I wanted to be everyday- with my Dad.
Like many of you, the first thing I think of when reflecting upon my dad is his sense of humor. He loved a good laugh. I grew up on many of the same sources of comedy that my Dad enjoyed as a kid. He fed me a steady diet of Mad magazine, Dr. Stranglove, Mystery Science Theater 2000, and later, the Simpsons were a staple in my household. Comedy shaped the way he viewed the world. It was as if his entire life was an episode of Mystery Science Theater 2000 and he was the guy making wise cracks at everything around him. Of course, as his kids we loved it. He could get us laughing our heads off. But he was usually the one who laughed the hardest. On many occasions I saw him laugh so hard that he literally fell to the ground and rolled around in laughter. Or, at other times, I could be on the complete other side of the house and hear him laughing. Over the years I learned that if he was on the phone laughing it could only mean that he was talking to his brother Uncle Tom. The two of them shared many inside jokes and life experiences that they loved to laugh about.
Sometimes you may have wondered if you could ever get a serious word out of his mouth. I had an experience with my Dad as a kid that gave me insight into why he used humor so much. For a few years my Dad taught early morning seminary. One of those years he taught the seniors in high school. One Saturday morning we woke up to discover that our house had been toilet papered. It was the most glorious sight my 9 year old eyes had ever beheld. The idea that a group of high school seniors would take time out of their cool lives to toilet paper my house and write a message in the lawn about how much they love Brother Shaw, it was almost more joy than I could bare. And apparently, they thought my Dad was super cool. Who was I to argue? From that experience on a beautiful Saturday morning nearly three decades ago, countless homes have experienced the great blessing of being toilet papered by my hands. Of course before my older brother Jun could drive, my Dad would pile us into our blue Plymouth Voyager minivan and chauffeur us to the site of our toilet papering adventures. There may or may not have been with us a Renouf or two, an Arnold, a Ferguson and maybe even a McCormick.
During my Dad’s time as a seminary teacher I was allowed to accompany him one time to his 6am class. Outside of toilet papering, it was the highlight of my life. All my senses were heightened. I remember the 18 year old guy sitting next to me offered me a gum ball that looked like a baseball. It was the first time I had seen one of those and it was so cool. I chewed it the entire time. Then my Dad taught the lesson. Can you believe that I can still remember the details of a lesson that I was taught when I was 9 years old? My Dad was an incredible teacher. For the lesson that day he had a number of pieces of construction paper that he passed out to the students. He handed one out that said “Heart” on it and asked the student to stand in the front of the room. He gave students other signs that said “Anger,” “Shyness,” “Sarcasm” and a number of other emotions and characteristics that were designed to keep the other students away from the heart. Then we had an activity where the students without signs were supposed to break through the kids holding the signs and make it to the heart. We learned how tough it can be to make it all the way to the heart. He asked his students to contemplate what barriers they put up to keep people from their heart. He told them that the barrier that he used to keep people from his heart was sarcasm. My Dad was the most tender-hearted man I ever knew. He learned to protect it through laughter and sarcasm.
My Dad definitely had many serious moments as well. Typically the serious moments with my Dad were events centered on our faith, our religion, the priesthood and his unwavering testimony of the Savior. He gathered us daily for prayer and scripture study. Of course my Dad would never call for the family to gather in a dull, boring voice. He would belt out in his goofy way “Time for Family Prayer!” We prayed as a family daily. We read the scriptures daily. My little secret was that I would hardly pay attention as the verses were read because I knew that my Dad would explain it all in a way that was perfectly clear to me. He not only studied the scriptures with our family, I would frequently see him reading them on his own. He even started gathering my friends to do scripture study with them. Our house in Las Vegas was situated in between the seminary building that I attended and my high school. We started a tradition with a couple of my friends to leave seminary and spend about 20 minutes every morning at my house before heading to school. In addition to enjoying a nice bowl of cereal, my Dad led me and my friends in scripture study. At first friends thought it was strange and that my Dad was crazy, but they quickly started to understand his humor and look forward to our morning tradition. My Dad would also lead us in prayer and frequently called on my friends to say it. As we rose from prayer and headed out the door, my Dad would always sing the same song to us: “Keep the commandments!” He also loved to ask my friends about what “hot babes” they were chasing. After their response, he would say, “well that’s nice, but what’s the spiritual condition within?” Jason, Jon and I still laugh at that classic question from my Dad.
My Dad always seemed to have the right words when you needed them most. He gave the most inspired Father’s blessings- to the point where I questioned if I would ever be able to provide such powerful blessings to my children when I grow up. He also took advantage of alone time to teach me important lessons. One time we were standing at a vantage point where we could see the entire Las Vegas valley. He leaned over to me and said, “The priesthood is the most powerful force in the whole world and the vehicle for man to bless the lives of Heavenly Father’s children.” Then as he pointed to the Strip he said, “You could throw it all away in 5 minutes down there on the Strip.” That statement made such an impact on me.
He also knew the right words to share in letters. As a missionary, I eagerly awaited my two page, single-spaced weekly letter from my Dad. They were always full of scriptural quotations and spiritual experiences from his life. I loved them and needed them desperately, especially when I was struggling. In one letter he shared the Savior’s teaching about leaving the 99 sheep to look for the one that is lost. He said, “if the Savior was there, that’s exactly what he would be doing.” His words gave me a huge boost and a newfound direction. Although I had a mission president, I truly considered my Dad to be my priesthood leader.
My Dad always knew the best way to handle a rebellious teen ager like me. In high school, my Dad found out that I had been throwing water balloons at people as my friends and I drove around in his car. He only made one comment to me that rings in my ears to this day: “Jeffrey, we lighten burdens, we don’t add to them.” That was all the punishment I needed to never do that again. When I was 14 years old I got caught stealing. I’ll never forget my heart pounding and the cold sweat that consumed my body as I waited for my Dad to pick me up. I imaged how he was going to react. Of course there would be disappointment but probably sheer anger as well. I imaged the wrath that I would soon face. As we got in the van to drive home, to my utter astonishment, my Dad said not a single word. We drove 15 minutes back to our apartment in complete silence. It cut me to the soul to think of what my Dad must be thinking about me. Sometimes silence says more than all the words in the world combined. When we got home, he ushered me into his bedroom where we cried together and he helped me feel the strongest resolve possible to never steal again. I wonder how other fathers may have approached that situation. He had every right to be furious at me. But he was more focused on teaching his son in a spirit of love a lesson that would last him a lifetime.
My Dad loved to tease other men whom he thought tried too hard to be macho. Whether it was wearing a dish towel as a bib, crocheting blankets and teaching hardened gang members to crochet too, or carrying around a seat cushion, it seemed like he went out of his way to prove that he didn’t care what people thought of him. In my early years of high school I ran cross country. During this same time my Dad was super into doing aerobics at the gym- or it’s modern day equivalent of Zumba. One day he said to me, “if you’re such a stud cross country runner, why don’t you come with me to my aerobics class on Saturday to see if it’s for sissies like you say it is.” Of course I was utterly embarrassed to walk into a room full of women, except for me and my dad, and join them for an hour of aerobics. It was amazing to see that my Dad knew all the moves. He increased his difficulty by putting down more steps than me and absolutely crushed me for an hour. I never teased him again about doing aerobics. But I loved that he didn’t conform to the norm and was truly his own man, no matter what others might say or weird looks he might get.
I consider my Dad one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He was my age when he got laid off from his job and went back to school full time. With 3 kids at home, I can only imagine what a stressful time this must have been in his life. I remember going with him up to CSFU to check the grades that the teacher posted outside his office. Of course he ruined the curve and got the highest grade in his class and got A’s in every class, even in his Master’s program. He was not only book smart, he could also figure out how to solve difficult problems. One morning we woke up and went outside to discover that my Dad’s car had been smashed into. The back fender of the car was completely broken up with fragments laying all over the ground. A couple days later, I came home from school and saw my Dad having a very serious talk with a man on our front porch. When my Dad came inside, I asked, "what was that all about?" He told me that he had gone out in the middle of the night to investigate which car in our neighborhood had run into his car. He took pieces of the fragments and noticed the color of the car had left a streak on his car. With the evidence in hand, he found the car just down the street from us. When he confronted the owner, he confessed to everything during their conversation on our front porch. Brilliant.
As an older kid in the family, I remember going to the hospital when each of my younger siblings was born. My Dad was so excited to introduce me to Chris, Katherine and Tyler. He smiled from ear to ear as he let me hold them for the first time. He frequently talked about the experiences surrounding our births and always shared how happy he was when we were born. These were truly the happiest moments of his life. With the birth of each of my 4 children, I can remember consciously thinking, “This is the joy that my Dad spoke of!”
Chris- I know that you and Dad had a special bond from the day you were born. I bet you guys have talked just about every day of your life. You went through a lot together. Thank you for everything you did to care for Dad over the years. We all owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you.
Katherine- You have no idea how excited Dad was to have a daughter, his first and only baby girl. You were and have always been the jewel of his eye. Dad was the leader of all of us boys in the family who dotted all over you. It was a great day when Dad walked you down the aisle in Alaska.
Tyler- You were the last born child and the only one of us born in Las Vegas. You have such a tender heart and caring disposition just like Dad. I hope that these characteristics you got from Dad stay with you and bless your life forever.
Jun- We are close enough in age that I know how much Dad meant to you because we lived many of our best moments with Dad together. I know Dad is so proud that you are active politically. I think Dad introduced both of us equally to politics. But all the hours of listening to Rush Limbaugh with him seemed to rub off on you more than me. I know you will do a great job of making a difference and advancing many of the causes that Dad was so passionate about.
To my mom- I appreciate all the support and kindness you extended to Dad over the past several years. Thank you.
To Grandma- I consider you an angel amongst us. I appreciate everything you have done for me as a grandmother and that you did for my Dad as a mother.
I don’t think I ever talked to my Dad when he didn’t end the conversation with “I love you and I’m so proud of you.”
Now it’s my turn. I love you Dad. And I’m so proud that you were my father.

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