Oct 20, 2011, 1:41 PM
Post #5 of 5
Thank you all for sharing your stories about my dad. Hugo was a wonderful father. He was always on my side. I will love him and miss him every day for the rest of my life. I am posting here the reflections that my sister and I read at Hugo's funeral for those of you who could not attend.
Re: [The Publisher] EIGHT BELLS: Hugo Schreiner
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“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?” - Kahlil Gibrahn
When I read this passage, thinking about my father becoming a part of the natural world while also rising up to meet God, it reminds me of the force of nature that my father was in his lifetime: he was strong, swift, not easily ignored. You couldn’t miss my dad when he came into a room. He was funny, sociable, sometimes loud, always purposeful and direct.
As a young child I was pretty sure that my dad was the tallest, loudest, and most interesting man to walk the planet. When I was really young he was often away sailing, but every time he came home from a regatta we went and ate pancakes at the yacht club coffee shop. While I was eating my short stack and drinking hot chocolate he would be describing in detail the most recent race. I knew when to duck as he waved his arms around, illustrating the boats and their positions while everyone debated whether or not he was telling it right. Sitting next to him, watching him with his friends, he showed what it was to be part of a community: of friends, of competitors, …it was his extended family. Some of the people we sat with in the coffee shop are here today and I hope they know that they remained in his heart as family.
As I got older, I realized that my first impression of my dad was pretty much spot on. He never faded in greatness or stature.
This may be hard to believe but I only ever went on the motorcycle with my father once. He was staying up in the Bay Area finishing a construction project while I finished up at Berkeley. I was leaving the country shortly after and I think we both knew I wasn’t going to live in America anymore so we were having a really great time. One day we took Snowball (the white bike) through Marin up to Point Reyes and through Bodega Bay. It was amazing and I finally could understand what my dad was so excited about when he talked about motorcycles. Seeing him getting enthusiastic about motorcycles the way he was about sailing when I was younger reminded me of the importance of being passionate about the things you spend your time doing, not being afraid to pursue something that speaks to you, and being caring towards the extended family you gain while following these pursuits.
What I’m trying to get at here is that my dad never followed a distinct path through life. He was like a river, with tributaries going in a number directions, each vital, each reaching out to make contact, to become something new, to benefit a new community.
One result of this tremendous breadth and reach of my father’s made him so knowledgeable and an expert on so many different things. He could lecture on boats, and motorcycles, and build or fix pretty much anything. When the material world had been taken apart and put back together by him, he became an expert on the German language and diligently spoke to anyone and everyone various phrases in German, whether they knew what he was saying or not.
I believe the German phrase of today is this: Er war ein Vater, ein Ehemann, ein Freund – und er war gut. He was a father, a husband, a friend, and he was good.
As I sat down to write something for today, years of memories of my father flooded through my mind. Most of the stories are totally inappropriate for a church setting, but that is just part of the man Hugo was. He was rough around the edges, but a teddy bear at heart.
When I married my husband 4 years ago, my dad gave me the advice that a woman should never marry a man with the intention of changing him. Dad told me that as a teenager he loved 3 things, motorcycles, fast cars and good looking women. And here he was in his late 50s, explaining to me that he still loved these things, so time doesn't change much. He was smart enough to marry my mother, a beautiful and supportive woman who never tried to change him. She let him be who he was and through their mutual love and marriage they both shined brighter. I know being married to Martha was the highlight of his life and I know he would want me to acknowledge her here today. Thank you mom for being by his side for the past 36 years and sharing this amazing adventure with him.
I know that Hugo was many things to many people. He was known for his quick wit, carpentry skills, sailing accomplishments and ability to grind foot pegs on the track. As his daughter, I knew him for so much more. Dad played an amazing air guitar, he could name most classic rock songs in the first few notes, he gave the best piggy back rides and could frighten any potential boyfriend in about 30 seconds flat. Dad taught me how to ride a bicycle and how to sail a boat. More importantly, he taught me about unconditional love and forgiveness, the necessity of humor and sarcasm, and the difference between a Philips head and a straight slot screwdriver. He taught me to love motorcycles and tolerated my preference for Triumphs over BMWs.
My favorite thing about my dad was that he was a man of action. He was a problem solver. The worst thing you could do to Hugo was to present him with a problem and then tell him that you didn't want his help in solving it. And Dad didn’t just solve problems for those he loved; he sought to help anyone he could. He felt blessed with gifts in his own life and sought to pay it forward to others. Dad was a genuine giver.
I am devastated by the passing of my father, but there are a few comforts that I would like to share with all of you.
First, I have no doubt in my mind that my father loved me and he knew just how much I loved him. We talked on the phone almost every day and we always remembered to say “I love you” as we hung up. He often spoke of his love for my sister and I, our children and our husbands to just about anyone who would listen.
Second, Dad loved Nick and Halvor like they were his own sons. I know that as he passed he did not have any fears that his daughters, wife and grandchildren would not be looked after. Dad often teared up when he told me that he couldn’t have chosen better son’s in law.
Third, Dad lived his life in the moment. He did everything he wanted to do and did not put anything off to the future. He wasn’t waiting to take trips to Europe once he retired. He never hesitated to spend another day at the track. He used up every moment he could enjoying his favorite people and activities.
Fourth and most importantly, the thought of my father’s body in this box breaks my heart, but I know that his spirit is no longer in there. I know he is in heaven with his parents and his dear friends who have passed before him. He is where the track is always open and the Ducatis have more power than we could fathom. The wind blows hard and his heavenly body is fit enough to straight leg hike all day long.
Dad, Thank you for being such an amazing force in so many lives. I am so proud to be your daughter. I will love you and miss you everyday I am on this earth. I will tell my daughter all about you and, due to your larger-than-life charisma, I won’t have to exaggerate the stories. I love you Papa Bear.