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For my Dad (1943 - 2022)
(This was my eulogy for him)
Just a quick note before we begin that if you truly wanted to honor my dad, everyone would be sitting in the back row, ready to make an anonymous departure at any time.
Wherever you’re sitting, I want to thank you all for being here.
Most of you probably knew Dave Albrecht as a co-worker, or fellow congregant, or some mysterious relative who only popped into your life every four years or so and even then didn’t speak much.
I’m here today to tell you about David Albrecht — my dad. My humble, honest, super-powered hero.
If you knew only one thing about my dad, it was probably this: He was always right. I don’t mean that in an egomaniacal kind of way. Just that if you ever asked for his advice, the advice he gave was always spot on. Not heeding his counsel was done at your own peril.
As a teenage son, this was frustrating. As an adult, it was priceless.
Given his willingness to offer advice, I thought it fitting to share with you five life lessons I learned from a full life with my dad.
So here we go.
Dave Albrecht Life Lesson Number 1 - Get more sleep
Heaven forbid you should cough or sneeze in our house growing up. Every ailment — regardless of the severity — had one root cause: “Not enough sleep!” he would proclaim. As a kid/teenager, I scoffed at this diagnosis, but as an adult with a child of my own, there is no better advice. For real, get more sleep.
Number 2 - Eat more chocolate.
Life is short. Be like Dave. Go ahead and get dessert.
Number 3 - Never pass up the opportunity to say nothing
My dad was a master of remaining tight-lipped. He should have been a spy. I mean, he may have been for all we know. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Dave. My mom cross-stitched “Never pass up the opportunity to say nothing” and it hung in our house for years. Unless you were breaking the law or acting remotely unethical, you would be hard-pressed to know what my dad was thinking. Thoughts and opinions were to be researched, well thought out… and kept to yourself.
Unless there was trouble, I should caveat. If something was unjust or morally corrupt, dad was not afraid of anyone — and not afraid to speak up.
But primarily dad operated under the belief that you didn’t need to share all your thoughts all the time. In this regard, Dave was certainly a man out of time in our social modern social media world. But maybe we all should be a little less Kardashian and a little more Dave Albrechtian.
Number 4 - You don’t have to understand someone to love them
When I was a kid my dad took me to the Exchange on base in Virginia. I don’t know what precipitated this, but he offered to buy me a record. An actual vinyl record. The year was 1979 — I was probably 6 or 7 — and the song “I was made for Lovin’ you” blanketed the airwaves, so naturally I made a beeline to grab the album Dynasty, by KISS. I showed it to my dad who took one look at the album cover and crinkled his face in a vain attempt to understand what exactly he was seeing. The painted faces of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss stared back at him. Dad immediately tried to deflect pointing to a Star Trek story record with the more familiar Captain Kirk and crew on the sleeve — “What about this one?” he asked slash somewhat pleaded. But I would not be denied, and on that day, he did not deny me. I still have that record and play it occasionally.
I didn’t always understand my dad, and he sure as heck didn’t always understand me (see also: long-haired college me). But I never once doubted that he loved me completely.
Number 5 - Memories are all you leave
Speaking of popular music from the 1970s, let’s talk a moment about John Denver. Well, actually, first let me share with you an actual piece of advice my father gave me at a different memorial years ago.
After the service my dad told me “The only thing you leave behind in this world are the memories people have of you.”
It’s one of those things that everyone instinctually knows, and it’s a good to say it out loud and be reminded.
I’m sure everyone here today has a fond memory of my dad. A memory of a time he helped you out. Shook your hand firmly, looked you in the eye and introduced himself with a “Dave Albrecht.”
I want to share one last memory of my dad with you. My dad didn’t really go in for what most people would call “fun.” He didn’t go to movies. He didn’t watch a lot of TV. But he liked music.
Well, he liked two musical acts. David Albrecht, lawyer, career Navy man, professor — loved ABBA and John Denver.
Which, I want to point out, is rad.
When we lived in Hawaii, I remember seeing my dad once or twice lying down on his back on the floor, wearing giant Sansui headphones plugged into the stereo, listening to John Denver. His eyes were closed and he sung along to himself Calypso or Rocky Mountain High. For a guy who always worked, and often looked like he bore the responsibility of the world on his shoulders, it was a rare moment of escape and joy that he created for himself.
And I’m so happy he had them.
So to honor my dad, mourn his passing and celebrate his life, I would appreciate it if everyone here would join me in closing this service today, by singing along to John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Road before we depart and keep him in our own memories.
Please sing along bursting with the joy my dad found in the song and with the abandon he would rarely allow himself.
Thank you, dad. You are loved. And you are missed.