Tribute to a Wonderful Father-in-law, Gerald Moore
Son, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, friend.
Christian, gentle giant, good listener, teddy bear, warm, kind, humble, accommodating, polite, thoughtful.....
These are all words that describe my beloved father-in-law, Gerald Moore. These are words I have heard repeated often or words that I use myself to describe him. However, not even these words do the man justice. You would have to meet him to see exactly what he was like. He had the warmest smile that I have ever seen. Whenever I was around him, I could feel warmth coming from him. He made me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Whenever I had to talk to him about anything serious, he would look at me with perfect eye contact the whole time I was talking to him. He wouldn't say much, but you knew he was listening. And sometimes that is all we need: Someone to listen. Many people have cried in front of him because he was so warm and receptive. It was easy to open up to him because we knew he would truly care. I never felt like he was in a hurry. Whenever I was with him, he made me feel like I was the most important to him. From what I understand, he did that with anyone he came in contact with. He always put others before himself. He had a very humble spirit. You've seen the many pictures of him that I have without him covering his face. You should see all of the ones I have with him covering his face. I would often compliment him when I noticed he was wearing a new tie, shirt, or jacket. He would jokingly call himself, "dashing." And that he would, "make the tie look good." Of course, he was joking in order to cover up his embarrassment from receiving the compliment.
He was so good at remembering to do good things for people. Whether that was sending a birthday greeting, writing thank-you notes, stopping by to see someone who has been ill, etc. We had a sick girl from our church home last year. She was scheduled to have brain surgery to remove a mass that was causing her seizures. She had to stay in the hospital to recover for a few days. Guess who wanted to do something for her to cheer her up? You guessed it. Gerald. He bought her a beautiful doll. Right before the start of the funeral, you may have seen a precious brown-haired girl standing by his casket. She was that little girl who received the doll from him.
He rarely got angry. The rare times I saw him angry, it was for a very good reason. He was a fair person. One of the things that would make him angry the quickest is if he saw someone being treated unfairly. He was a man who never showed any favoritism. He loved his sons, daughters-in-law, grandsons, students, and friends equally.
Gerald cared about our safety. One of the last phone conversations I had with him was focusing on my driving. He knew I had a lead foot. He asked me if I was going to drive safely on my way home from work. I jokingly beat around the bush with him. He told me to think about him while I was driving home. In other words, remember him reminding me to drive safely. I used to tease him about driving too slow. It wasn't fun driving behind him. Now, I would give everything I own to drive behind him again. But, that would be selfish of me since he is in a much better place than I am right now.
He used to get grossed out at how much ranch dressing I would pour on my salad at the Cracker Barrel. (His favorite restaurant) I would gross him out for fun once I knew it grossed him out. I would say, "Hey, Gerald! Watch this!" And I would pour away as I watched his face turn to a mixture of shock and disgust. It was quite comical.
Gerald also made it a point to thank those who work in fields that society would call menial or demeaning. If someone came by to empty his trash in his office, he would thank them and tell them what a good job they were doing at keeping his office clean.
I had the pleasure of knowing his mother Margaret during what few remaining months she had left to live. I first met her over a long distant phone call. She had a very soft, kind voice. She also had that same cute chuckle that we all remember Gerald having. She had the most beautiful handwriting that I have ever seen. I was not let down when I first met her. She was the perfect, female version of Gerald. If you met her, you would know that she raised Gerald to be the way he was. I will never forget the day that I saw Gerald cry for the first time. He didn't cry much in public, but when he did, you knew it was serious. His mother passed away while I was visiting her in April 2001. She was taken to Southern Hills hospital to be pronounced. The family and some close friends were waiting for Gerald and Barbara to arrive to hear the terrible news of her passing. As soon as Gerald heard, he sat down and wept. Seeing him cry made me cry harder than I already was. He loved her dearly. And the feeling was certainly mutual. Grand Moore, as we called Gerald's mom, always spoke fondly of her son. Grand Moore and I would look through albums together and she would tell me stories of Gerald's childhood. It sounded like he was a wonderful son. We were not surprised.
I first met Gerald when I was a freshman at Lipscomb University in 1995. I was a music minor my freshman year. I introduced myself to him and told him that I am friends with his son, Brent. Brent and I met in high school at Lipscomb. Gerald was pleased to meet me, as you can imagine. I found out that he was going to be my Music Theory and Sight-singing/Ear training professor. I was thrilled. I wasn't surprised to see how good of a teacher he was. He was so good at reading his students. He would immediately pick up if a student was confused in class. He was also willing to work with you anytime you needed extra help or if you were too scared to sing in front of the class. On occasion, he would schedule a test and when that day came, he brought two liter sodas to class and threw a party instead. That sneak. :)
In Sight-singing, we were always given a few measures to sing in front of the class. He knew that some of us had stage fright and he was willing to take volunteers first. Luckily, there were many volunteers who wanted to be done with their assignment and would leave class as soon as they were done. I was usually one of the last ones to sing so that very few people would hear me. I was embarrassed for Gerald to hear me, but he was always so kind whenever someone would make a mistake. He never put anyone down and gently instructed us how to do the assignments correctly.
I ended up changing minors. I later teased him that I did that because his class was so boring. Being the tease he was, I knew he would take it well and dish the teasing right back. He said that I changed minors because I just couldn't take it and that I wanted to find an easier minor. He said this while smiling because he knew that I knew he was kidding too.
Gerald also had humor that was hard to catch sometimes. You would have to be listening closely to catch it. He would find it even funnier if he said a joke and no one would laugh. I can hear him laugh now whenever I asked him, "Was that supposed to be funny?" He would crack up laughing. I started dating Gerald's youngest son my second semester of my freshman year. I used to joke that I probably could have gotten brownie points if I had remained Gerald's student. In reality, I know that wouldn't have been true since Gerald didn't show favoritism. He was fair to everyone.
Brent and I became engaged and I was still calling Gerald, "Dr. Moore." Gerald's wife Barbara told me to call them, "Gerald and Barbara." As you can imagine, that was difficult for me for several reasons. One, I was told by my parents to call my elders by their last names. Two, Gerald was my professor for a semester. Three, a lot of people around me was calling him "Dr. Moore." It finally became easier to call him Gerald after I married Brent because I was now a part of the family.
I loved giving and receiving hugs from Gerald. He was such a cuddly person. When we were standing, the top of my head came to his chest. He towered over many people because of his 6'5" stature. His hands were the softest hands I have ever touched.
I also loved his voice. It was the perfect mixture of being commanding and gentle. When I was a student, Gerald would lead singing in chapel. I was so proud of him. I even recorded him songleading several times. When he found out I did that, he was confused as to why I did it. Yes, he was humble that way. To this very day, I listen to his voice on my tape recordings. Now that he is gone, I am even more thankful to have his voice recorded on tape. Usually during birthdays or Christmas we would also take videos on Brent's camera. Now, not only do I have his precious voice to listen to, I also get to see him. Praise God for the technology today to be able to have these wonderful memories restored.
Gerald truly enjoyed his work. He loved working with his fellow colleagues and with his students. I'm so thankful that the music department at Lipscomb still gave him things to do after he retired. He was honored that they even gave him an office in the new music wing that was built. He was asked to help teach classes by subbing for a teacher who had to miss. He was asked to teach classes for the semester, and he did some recruiting or paper work that was helpful to the department.
He also established his own Nashville Early Music Ensemble. This group consisted of mostly people who had been his students at some time. Everyone who was a part of that group was overjoyed to be reunited with him again since he left such a wonderful impression earlier in their lives.
When he wasn't at home or with his family, you could always count on that he would be in his office doing what he enjoyed most. He was either arranging music, grading papers, tutoring students, making phone calls to check up on people he cared about, or sending birthday greetings to those he knew. By the way, he kept a journal with all of the birthdays he knew of in his desk.
You would also find him doing other projects that were family related. He was working on his family-tree. As some of you saw at the visitation, he had made very organized and thorough notebooks filled with letters, pictures, and any significant event that happened during his life from 1939-2010. He had a box with his unfinished project that was likely going to go in to his 2010 folder or add-ons to the other years of his life that he had accumulated.
Gerald was a family man. He highly enjoyed meeting at various places whether that be our homes, restaurants, or any event that we would all enjoy. He adored his Grandsons, Devon and Austin. I am saddened that he will never get to see or hold a grandchild from us, but I have faith that God will allow him to see all good things from Heaven.
Gerald cared about others before he would care for himself. If God allows the deceased to check up on the living, I know he would want to be watching his loved ones every day. That would be Heaven to him. Gerald would even ask about our animals. We are all animals lovers so he, naturally, would take interest in things that his loved ones enjoyed. He would call us frequently to see how we were doing. He would call me at work or visit because he knew I was by my lonesome self watching security cameras. He would call Brent on Friday because he knew that was Brent's day off. He would also check up on Scott, Sherry, and the boys on a regular basis. He would check up on us even when we had the common cold to see how we were feeling. Gerald was one of the most caring men I have ever met in my life. I'm so thankful that we have pictures and videos to prove it. God has truly blessed us.
Feb. 11, 2010 was one of the saddest days of my life. Deep down, I know that we are all mortals and that life ceases. However, for some reason, I thought Gerald would live a very long time. Perhaps it was because he was always so happy, busy, and acted youthful for his age. He was only 71 years old. That doesn't even reach the typical lifespan of the average male. With the exception of his irregular heartbeat and pains he would have, he was a very healthy being. He had regular checkups with his heart doctor. For the most part, he ate healthy foods. He took vitamins on a regular basis. I guess no matter what we do, when God calls us home, it is time to go home.
Brent and I were asleep when all of the sudden, I heard my sister-in-law, Sherry, screaming Brent's name inside our house. I knew it was serious by the tone of her voice and she isn't one to just walk in to our house without telling us first. When we first heard the news, we were in total disbelief and shock. Apparently, Gerald was at home about to leave to teach class for the day. He was scraping the ice off of his windshield with the van running. He sat down and died instantly. We suspect it was quick and painless stemmed from a massive heart attack. This is likely the same type of death his mother went through a few years prior. About 30-45min. later, he was found sitting partially in the van, slumped over. The neighbor called EMS and they guided her to check for vital signs. She had no experience with CPR, but she could tell that he was likely gone. When EMS arrived, they worked on him anyway just in case. Barbara looked out her window and saw the flashing lights and heard a knock on the door. That is when she found out it was Gerald.
Barbara told us that right before Gerald went outside to ice scrape the windshield of the van, he kissed her and said he loved her. Those are certainly the last words you would want to hear from your loved one who is about to go home to be with God.
We are grateful that Gerald did not suffer. He never had to be stuck in a hospital with a debilitating illness. He died quickly and painlessly. We just wish we had been able to say goodbye to him one last time. I wish I could have hugged him one last time. I wish I could have seen that warm smile of his in real life one last time. We never know when it is our time to go. I'm so grateful of all of the good memories with Gerald that I will forever cherish. Spend time with your loved ones as much as you possibly can because you never know when they will leave us until we all meet again in our eternal place.
When I fall asleep at night, my right hand is holding Brent's hand. My other arm is clutching Gerald's favorite jacket closely to my chest. His clean scent is still on the jacket and it gives me comfort. I wet my pillow with tears while I stare at one of his pictures. I'm asking God why, why, why....If he saw me grieving like this, he would say, "Oh, MariLynn....I'm not worth that." This is where I would have to strongly disagree with him. I'm laughing at the pranks Gerald and I pulled on one another. I am cherishing the memories. I take comfort that Gerald is no longer in any physical pain. He is with his Creator. He is with God. Praise God, the inventor of music.
We want to thank every one of you have played a part in making Gerald a very happy man throughout the years. That is the other comfort that we have today. He died a fulfilled and happy man. More importantly, he died a Christian. I want to thank all of you for all of the kind words you have said to us either in person, email, phone calls, or on facebook. We appreciate all of the memories that you have shared with us. Certainly we weren't with Gerald during every waking moment and would love to hear from you about your encounters with him. I want to thank everyone who played some part with the visitation, funeral, and burial. It was very difficult to choose pall bearers because Gerald had so many friends. As someone said to me at the funeral, "That is a good problem to have."
We love you, Gerald, and we are looking forward to seeing you in Heaven where the angels are singing.
Here is a poem that I received in the mail today by a dear friend. It is written by Thresiamma Abraham. It touched me deeply.
Don't grieve for me, for I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me
I took His hand when I heard His call,
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I've found that peace at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy,
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah, yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow,
My life's been full, I savored much
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief
Lift up your hearts and share with me,
God wanted me now, He has set me free.