Arrivederci Pops

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On this very first Fathers Day without my Dad, I’d like to remember him with this written eulogy that I shared on the day of his home-going celebration.

As the only natural born son of Lawrence (Larry) Ralph Borgstede, Jr, it is my great privilege to say a few words on behalf of my mom and family to honor the memory of my Dad on this day of September 20, 2016.

A loving husband, a wonderful father, and a faithful friend…my Dad was all of these and so much more to everyone who knew him and loved him. As his son, I loved him and without any doubt, I know that he loved me. I also know that my Dad would be the first to tell you that he was not a perfect Dad, but I will be the first to tell you that he was a good good father because he first loved his perfect Father in heaven, he secondly loved my mom as Christ loves the church, and he thirdly loved his family and others as he loved himself. When it comes right down to it, my Dad was a good good father because he truly loved the Lord and he truly loved others as God commands all of us to do.

My Dad was the kind of man who always did what he said he would do no matter what it cost him because his good name was worth everything he gave to have a good name that honored God and his family. If he borrowed a vehicle from someone, he brought it back full of gas…that’s just how he rolled.

Besides being called Hon, Dad, Paw Paw, and Pops, my Dad was sometimes lovingly called bumpstead, grumpstead, and motor mouth, but no matter what anyone called him, everyone who truly loved him, knew they could count on him whenever they called him.

On one such occasion, I called my Dad at 4 o’clock in the morning to help me with some mice in my house. I had set a trap in the pantry the night before, and then around 4 am, I heard a loud clamoring all around the inside of the pantry. With all the commotion going on, I thought it just had to be a large rat or squirrel, or possum, or something big. And because I was scared to open the pantry thinking that it would run through the house with my wife and kids there, I called my Dad who lived about 3 miles away to come help capture and kill this monster in the pantry. And sure enough, at 4 in the morning, without any reservation, my Dad got out of bed and showed up to help me.

I guess you want to know what happened to the monster in my pantry, right? Well, when my Dad arrived, he bravely opened the pantry door as I stood behind him with a Puerto Rican bat ready to clobber the monster. And what he found was a little tiny mouse having a bad day with a mousetrap. My Dad looked at me and said, “Son, is this why you got me out the bed at 4 o’clock in the morning? Looks like I’m going to have to teach you a few more things in life.”

And that he did. My Dad has taught me over and over again by his selfless example that being there for people is what matters most in life. My Dad was always, always, always there for me. And he was always there for my family and his friends as well.

Another time I called my Dad when I was in Florida on a business trip and my car wouldn’t start. Without hesitation, my Dad offered to drive to Florida and get me if I wasn’t able to get the car fixed with a new battery. Fortunately, it was just the battery and he didn’t have to make that drive…but he would have gladly done it, if he had to. It’s just how he loved people.

There are literally hundreds of stories that can be told collectively by my family and his friends of how my Dad somehow was there for them over the years and helped them in some large or small way. That’s my Dad…it’s who he was.

In fact, during the final days of my Dad’s life, the hardest thing about it was that his family and friends couldn’t help him when he was the one now calling for help. He had been there so many times for us and he always knew how to help us, but when he needed us to help him in his final days, we didn’t know what to do except to pray for him and be there for him just like he was always there for us.

One thing is for certain though, we can all take great comfort in knowing that my Dad, one of the smartest men I’ve ever known, knew what he needed to do even in his most difficult time. In his final hours, my Dad called on Jesus in heaven to help him when he knew there was nothing else that anyone on earth could do to help him. And without fail, Jesus helped him indeed and what I am about to share with you is amazing!

In the moments when my Dad was crying out, “Jesus help me!” and my Mom was crying out “Jesus, where are you?”, the Holy Spirit whispered to my Mom to put on the daily televised mass for my Dad to watch in his bed. As only God can do, the Lord showed up for my Mom and my Dad when the priest gave his homily about loved ones going home to be with Jesus.

In his homily, the priest said that when believers in Jesus go home to be with Him in heaven, we go home to a beautiful house with many mansions that Jesus has prepared for us. Jesus affirms this Himself in the book of John 14:1-3 when He says, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

The priest also said that for all who believe and trust in Jesus, this glorious truth makes us all the more want to go to heaven so that we can see our loved ones once again and have fellowship with them for all of eternity. I know that statement is true for me and I hope it is also true for you because all of us can experience eternal life in heaven.

I believe that if my Dad could speak to all of us here today, he would tell everyone to put your trust in God and commit your life to Jesus so that each of us can be in heaven where he is when it’s our time to leave this earth.

At the very end of the televised mass last Thursday, it was my Dad’s time to leave this earth as he breathed his last breath and went home to be with Jesus in heaven. Praise God that the Lord is faithful and His love is unfailing!

Now, for the rest of this temporary life on earth, I will miss the personal fellowship with my Dad on earth. But, I take great comfort in knowing that I have not lost relationship with my Dad because he is my Dad forever and as a person who has placed my trust in Jesus, I know that I will one day see my Dad again and will forever have fellowship with him in heaven. Thank you Lord that Your mercy is new every morning and Your mercy endures forever!

With that final thought, I conclude with the Italian words of Pope Francis, “Arrivederci” Pops. It means “goodbye Dad, until we meet again.”

Farewell To My Grandfather

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As the oldest grandson of Gasper P. LaCiura, it is my privilege to honor his memory with this written eulogy delivered on May 25, 2017.

Thirty-three years ago, I was planning to go to college but didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. And because I needed all the help I could get, I decided to apply for the college scholarship that my dad’s local union was offering to the children of their members. However, in order to apply for the scholarship, I had to write a letter about my goals and ambitions in life. For a 17 year old young man, I didn’t really have any idea what I was going to do in life so I asked my Paw Paw to help me think through what I should write and he gave me this hand-written draft to review and consider. This is what he wrote:

To the Scholarship Committee:

After finishing high school, I plan to attend college, get a comprehensive education, so that I may become knowledgeable in all facets of life, to cope with adversity, to accept responsibility, and to face each day with a positive attitude. I have not decided what I will major in or what field I will enter; however, I will not set my goals so high that they will be unattainable, or will cause me anguish, stress, or poor health.

I plan on being successful, but, how do you measure success? Is it a home on the lakefront with a Mercedes Benz and servants? I think not. A successful person is well adjusted, maintains a certain amount of self-discipline, has a sense of values, morals, ethics, etc. and faces each day in a constructive manner.

I hope to marry, raise a family and become involved in community affairs, such as improved playgrounds, education, drug and alcohol abuse, etc and realize that the future of our country lies with my generation and the ones that come after. I will do everything in my power to make my community and my country a better place in which to live. I will not stand aside and say, “Let George do it!” I will contribute my share.

In the end, I would like to be judged by my peers, family, friends, associates, and all that I become involved with, as an honest, sincere, compassionate, concerned individual who enriched their lives to a great degree.

I have not seen this letter in a very, very long time and I was hoping that I would be able to find it. I am so glad that I did because as I now read it, I am astonished at the profound vision that my Paw Paw possessed for his life because this is the way he lived his life…but even more than that…I am astonished and grateful for the vision he possessed for my life. In the words of his letter, I can see that he very eloquently communicated so many years ago what he hoped my life would turn out to be. And as I now reflect upon my life in comparison to his hopes for me 33 years ago, it is clearly evident how much my Paw Paw loved me and how much he actually influenced my life for the good.

Because my Paw Paw taught me that the pen is mightier than the sword, I decided to write him a letter on Christmas Eve in 2007 to honor him and tell him how much I loved him for being the best grandfather a young boy, and a grown man could ever have.

I told him how much I appreciated him for letting me experience the thrill of driving a boat as a young lad and teaching me that life is a daring adventure to be enjoyed with those you love.

I thanked him for the many opening days of shrimp season when he, my dad, and I would enjoy the anticipation of the first drag of the net. And it didn’t matter if we caught the “mother lode” or if we forgot to “tie the pocket”, (which we did far too many times) my Paw Paw taught me that the simple things in life were the good things in life.

When I was 14 years old and turning 15, my Paw Paw knew that I was saving money to buy my first car. So he called me one night and asked me how much money I had saved. I told him that I saved $1,400 and then he asked me if I liked the 1966 Mustang that he had in his driveway and offered to sell it to me for $1,200. What a surprise that was to me and even more so to my parents because I don’t think they were quite yet ready for me to own a car and be driving. By his example, he taught me that nothing in life is free and anything worth having is worth the hard work to achieve it.

And then most importantly, I thanked him for always being there for me to listen to my dreams, encourage my whole-hearted pursuit, and inspire my belief that nothing would be impossible for me with a little bit of faith, hope, and love.

I let him know that the gift of his life, love, and laughter that he often shared with me on his early Saturday morning donut runs helped me to become the man of purpose and conviction that I am today.  And because he taught me that “your word is your bond”, I promised to pass on to my children the many life principles that he taught me which are as timeless and priceless as the railroad watch that he left me as a reminder of his family legacy.

And lastly, I closed my letter with a prayer that his personal relationship with our heavenly Father, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would grow ever more closely and intimately as he reflected each day on the blessings of his life.

Being true to form, after receiving my letter, my Paw Paw wrote back with the following:

Dear Gary,

Finally getting around to writing you to thank you for those wonderful accolades that you bestowed on me. Although I don’t think I am deserving of them, I will accept. And don’t forget for one minute the joy and happiness that you brought into my life. God has been very good to both of us. Of course you know that I am ninety years old. I have survived this long for a reason…God must have plans for me. Don’t laugh!

You have every reason to thank God for being so good to both of us. You have every reason to be thankful to God. First He gave you a wonderful mother and father. Then He gave you a beautiful wonderful wife and children. As far as I am concerned, you are already successful. You have intellect, wit, and the ability to do the things that you prefer…not to mention good looks. That is one thing I’m glad you did not take after me for. I don’t have to tell you that we owe it all to Almighty God. Once again, I want to thank you for the tribute. It brought a tear to my eye.

Your loving grandfather,

Blackie

Yes Paw Paw, we do owe it all to Almighty God and I am thankful He gave me you! I love you and will look forward to seeing you again!!

Farewell To My Grandfather Copyright 2017, Gary Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the written eulogy, Farewell To My Grandfather, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Heaven

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Heaven, a place so grand,

No eye or mind can see,

A chorus of angels always singing,

Glory, honor, praise unto Thee.

Angels of light all around,

Our loved ones already there,

Fond memories in our heart,

A little bit of heaven, everywhere.

Heaven Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the poem, Heaven, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

For Giving

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To my beloved children:

I am certain you know that your mom and I are faithful givers of tithes and offerings; however, I’m not sure if you actually know the real reason for why we do it. You see, besides the desire to honor God first in our finances, we are faithful givers of tithes and offerings because God is a faithful Giver who is for giving and He has forgiven us much.

The truth is…there was a time in my life when I was not a giver and I was not for giving. In fact, I was quite the opposite. I was a taker and I was for myself. As a result, I was very selfish and my time, my talent, and my treasure was used for myself which led straight into sin through the pride of life, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes. Furthermore…if not for God being so totally for giving towards me, redeeming me, and restoring my life…my life at best would be a wreck, and at worst, I would be dead. Therefore, because God is so over the top for giving towards me, my true heart’s desire is to be for giving like Him, even though I can never give Him as much as He has given me and continues to give me every day of my life.

Please understand clearly that my giving comes from desire and not duty because without question, everything I have in life, God has given me and I am grateful to Him for giving me everything. He has given me my spiritual life, my marriage life, my family life, my relational life, my physical life, my financial life, and my vocational life. Every good thing I have comes from God because He is a faithful Giver who is for giving! How can I be anything other than a faithful giver myself who is for giving? So now you know. By the grace of God, I am a faithful giver who is for giving because God is a faithful Giver who is for giving. He gives me everything and He forgives me greatly! My prayer is that each of you will also experience for yourselves, the radical over the top for giving nature of God that makes you desire to be a faithful giver who is for giving like Him.

With God’s grace, you’ve got this and you can do it!!

Your imperfect loving,

Dad

For Giving Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the letter, For Giving, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

True Love

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To my beloved children:

My prayer for each of you is that you will all one day find true love in your life. But please know this, the pursuit of true love is a risky matter because feelings of love can make a person so very happy and they can also make a person so very sad. Regarding the risks of feeling in love, I’ve heard it said, “It is better to have loved and lost love, than it is to have never loved at all.” In my view, this statement encapsulates very well the real emotional risks inherent in the action of pursuing love. In fact, in my life, I have learned that pursuing love certainly has its very real vulnerabilities and emotional risks; however, I have also learned, even more importantly, that true love is love rooted in choice rather than feelings.

You see, feelings of love can come and they can also go, depending on the emotional state and well-being of people. And because feelings are fickle, people “feeling” in love will also likely feel fearful, anxious, and insecure in their love relationship. As a result, love rooted in feelings alone is often deceiving and unfortunately often short-lived in relationships. To me, this is very sad because love doesn’t have to be this way when it is true love.

True love is love that lasts a lifetime because it is fundamentally rooted in people’s choice and not their feelings. Plus, love rooted in choice is true because it is the only kind of love that can be unconditional. You see, love rooted in feelings focuses on what a person receives from another person by feeling in love; whereas, love rooted in choice focuses on what a person gives to another person by choosing to love. This is a vast difference that makes all the difference in true love.

Therefore, to possess true love that lasts forever, choose to love others with your whole heart, always and forever, no matter what. If you make this kind of intentional decision to truly love others from your heart, you will not only experience true love forever, you will never fear having true love in your life.

With God’s grace, you’ve got this and you can do it!!

Your imperfect loving,

Dad

True Love Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the letter, True Love, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Make It Count

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To my beloved children:

There is one thing in life that is 100% certain…all people have a date with death and there is no escaping it. We all live and one day we die. And while there is not much we can do about our birth date and our death date, there is much we can do with each date in between.

Your life and my life is a precious gift from God and the way we live our life is our unique precious gift back to Him and others. No one can live your life, but you, which is why it is unique.  And it is precious because each day only comes once and once it is gone, it is gone forever. With that in mind, let me encourage you to make each precious day count to the fullest for yourself and for others by living your life well. And let me caution you…if you don’t have a plan for your life, then someone else will and you may very well end up living their life rather than your own.

So, to help you make a good plan and live your life well, I encourage you to ask yourself these 3 great questions:

  1. How do you want to be remembered in life by your family and friends?
  2. What are your gifts and talents that can make a real difference in life?
  3. Who are your wise trusted advisors in life?

A good and wise friend once told me that every 7 years we experience a new season in life. As I look back upon my life, I can see that it is true. Furthermore, I also now know that in each season, it is easy to look ahead to the next season and miss the opportunities to fully enjoy the current season. Please don’t let that happen to you. Famous cartoonist, Bil Keane, has written, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift from God which is why we call it the present.” So enjoy each day as an incredible present and make it count each day!

With God’s grace, you’ve got this and you can do it!!

Your imperfect loving,

Dad

Make It Count Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the letter, Make It Count, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Forgive Others Always

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To my beloved children:

I am certain that you have experienced life well enough by now to know that it sometimes includes being hurt, insulted, wronged, or offended in some way by others. Anyone who lives life long enough will experience some injustices in life. The truth is…there is no one immune from this painful side of life; however, there is one powerful prescription to the emotional pain of life injustices. It is called “forgiveness”.

Forgiveness is the one thing in life that can overcome any and every hurtful injustice we may experience in life. This is true in every case…no matter what. When you have been wronged…forgive always. When you have been insulted…forgive always. When you have been treated unfairly…forgive always. When you have been hurt emotionally…forgive always. Because…to not forgive others always is like taking a bitter pill that prolongs the pain and agony of an unforgiving heart. And it’s just not worth it.

On the other hand, when you and I forgive others always, we become better people and not bitter people. Through forgiveness, we release the pain of bitterness and embrace the gain of betterness as we recognize that we too at times need the forgiveness of others. In fact, the Lord teaches us to pray for our own forgiveness as we forgive others. And do not misunderstand me. I’m not saying that forgiving others always is always easy, but I am saying that forgiving others always is always necessary if you and I want to be better people in life and not bitter people. With God’s grace, you’ve got this and you can do it always!

Your imperfect loving,

Dad

Forgive Others Always Copyright 2016, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the letter, Forgive Others Always, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

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