Eulogy for my Dad
Eddie Bramlet Booher was born on July 14, 1938 in Cumberland County, Kentucky, to Ruth McCoy and Eddie Creed Booher. He was their first child, a small baby who appeared to be stillborn at first. They wrapped him in a blanket and put him in a shoebox because they thought he was dead, but then his grandmother noticed that he was moving. No one in the room would have guessed who that timid baby would become.
The short life sketch captured the basic facts of his life, but in no way does justice to his hard work, sacrifice, and friendship. How do you convey the essence of Eddie Booher’s life in a sketch or even a fifteen-minute eulogy? You do what he would do—use a metaphor or story to help explain his character, both virtues and faults.
Eddie Booher was a Kentucky summer thunderstorm. If you’re from Kentucky you’ve experienced one of those afternoon thundershowers that builds in the morning, crashes down on you in the afternoon, and refreshes the evening with a cool rain. You hear the thunder, see the flashes of lightning, and feel the rain on your skin. You smell the moisture moving through the air. You hear the wind whistling through the trees. You’re a bit frightened as it approaches, and yet excited at the prospect of rain to save you from the oppressive humidity and heat that summer can bring. Eddie Booher was like that summer thunderstorm.
First comes the rolling thunder. It builds and rumbles until you can feel it shake you. You know the thunder isn’t going to hurt you, but it alarms you.
Everyone who knew Eddie Booher knew he was loud like thunder. He boomed at will and no one could ever claim they didn’t hear him. It was a convenient form of communication in wide-open spaces. Amory remembers being able to hear him yell over the sound of the tractor while wearing earplugs. Visiting friends were unable to distinguish a “holler” from a “yell” and assumed he was angry all the time. Those of you who really knew him recognized that he struggled with his temper, and like the booming thunder its sudden onset and teeth-rattling nature surprised you. It took most of us years to get used to it, but when we did, we could see through the blustering noise like the child that is no longer afraid of the sound of thunder. We learned to walk calmly in the storm, and in later years tried not to laugh at his blustering. One night Chock and Brock came home later than they should have, but at the time they were both twenty something and had served missions in South America. Dad came out of the bedroom and began to work up his usual thunder until Chock grinned at him and said, “Why don’t you go back to bed before we decide to whoop you?” Dad looked at them both, shook his head, and went back to bed.
Yes Eddie Booher was loud, but that wasn’t always a negative thing. He was never afraid to take a stance and speak up about important things. He was loud about his opinion on abortion and stood up for unborn children and the right to life in 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion. He and Mom volunteered at the County Fair and tried to persuade people that abortion was morally wrong.
He was loud about his opinion on race. As he matured he recognized that the society around him had it wrong and worked to liberate himself from that conditioning. Over the years he befriended coworkers and neighbors of color and broke the chain of narrow thinking in his home, and in his community.
He was loud in his patriotism and love of country. He often quoted the Van Dyke poem "America for Me"
Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars!”
He loved his country and the freedoms it afforded him.
He was also loud about his religious beliefs bearing his testimony of Christ and the restored gospel to many people over the years. When his parents told him to renounce his testimony of the Church or move out, he began to pack the car. His parents relented once they saw that he was serious about his beliefs. He never backed down from his testimony.
Yes, like the rolling thunder that shakes your bones, Eddie Booher was loud.
As the storm approaches and builds, the sky lights up with bolts of lightning that blind you and make the hair on your arms stand up with static electricity. Each bolt of lightning is powerful, bright, and bold. Eddie was often like those bolts of lightning.
He was powerful like a bolt of lightning in his work ethic. When discussing their father, one trait that all ten of his children mentioned was his work ethic. He worked because he loved to work. He worked because he loved Mom. He worked because he loved his kids. Most poets excel in talking about love. He excelled at talking about work. He showed us that his work was love and his love was work. When other children might get to know their father while playing baseball, or during a beach vacation, we all got to know our father by working beside him, because he was always working on something. He worked at the factory and came home to work on the farm, and we all helped. It was sometimes sad to visit him in his later years because he wasn’t able to work, and working together was all we had ever known.
Like the flash of lightning, Eddie was bright. I don’t mean to say that he was some sort of genius, but he was a voracious reader and assimilated information better than most people. Even better than remembering information, he knew how to put that information to work. Like those flashes of lightning, he had flashes of genius that made him a bit of a visionary. As the Production Manager at the local copper tubing factory, he had a vision of what computers could do to make production more efficient. He almost singlehandedly implemented that vision and put a system in place that would enhance the production for many years to come. When they finally replaced his system just a few years ago, it took a group of consultants over six months and thousands of dollars to get the job done. The impact of his flashes of lightning at work caused people to ask, “What would Eddie Booher do?” long after he had retired.
He was especially bright when he married, and listened to, Jeanetta his wife. They got married when he was seventeen and she was sixteen, and as you would expect it was tough. They grew up together as they started their family. You can only imagine the difficulties they faced as the bills piled up and the hardships of raising a large family began to pile on top of them like an avalanche of toil and trouble. Where he was loud, she was quiet, but over the years he learned to take inspiration from her like energy from flashes of lightning.
He loved to quote a variety of inspirational (and sometimes humorous) sayings he picked up over the years. “Work will win when wishy-washy wishing won’t.” “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” “They told me, ‘Cheer up things could get worse.’ So I cheered up and sure enough things got worse.” “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” “I was doing okay but I got over it.” “When the time for action has arrived, the time for preparation has passed.” “Put your shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone, butt in the wind, and try to get some work done in that position.” And of course his favorite, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Like those flashes of lightning he had a good quip for a variety of situations.
Eddie Booher, like those flashes of lightning, had moments of energy, inspiration, and bold genius.
After the booming thunder and the violent lightning, the rain begins to fall. The sound of rain falling on a tin roof soothes your nerves. The smell of moisture in the air puts a smile on your face. The raindrops bring life-giving moisture. Eddie could storm, but he always brought the rain.
After yelling at you and maybe even punishing you for misbehaving, Dad would always offer love in the form of a hug and or a kiss on the cheek. He never stayed mad or upset at you for very long, and apologized when he was wrong. Like the passing storm, his wrath passed quickly. After the wrath came the nourishing and life-giving rain of love.
Rain meant that the crops would grow, and his favorite crop was alfalfa hay. The expression, “Make hay while the sun shines,” could be considered his life’s motto. He loved working in the hay more than almost everything else. He told stories of working in the hay with his father. All of us worked in the hay—mowing it, raking it, baling it, and hauling it. More than once we found ourselves racing against a coming thunderstorm to get the hay into the barn. Sometimes we lost, but when we won it was the best feeling in the world to be walking back from the barn as the rain began to fall. Amory recalls how one time Dad was so giddy to get the hay into the barn before the rain came that he stayed outside in the rain and tossed a rubber ball onto the tin roof of the house laughing like a kid as he got soaking wet. The rain made the hay grow, and making hay was the cycle of his life. Truly the chatter of a sickle bar mower, the scraping teeth of the rake, and the rhythmic pounding of the square baler were the soundtrack of Eddie Booher’s life.
The rain had a big impact on his childhood. He grew up on the banks of the Cumberland River before they had dams along the river to control flooding. He spoke of getting rescued from the second story of his Brownwood home in a rowboat when the swollen river threatened to swallow up his childhood home. He told us stories about going around the square in Burkesville in a motorboat. One time he drove a Volkswagen Beetle to get across a swollen creek by getting a running start and floating across the last few feet before his tires touched pavement again. Those traumatic events left an indelible impression that always made him leery of heavy rain and flooding.
Eddie Booher could be loud, but he was also very tender, like a great big teddy bear. He could shower love down on you at the most unexpected time and in a measure unexpected by a man so focused on keeping a household of ten children in line. As a disciplinarian he was quick to mete out justice followed promptly by mercy and love. Brock remembers most the whipping he didn’t get when he almost burned down the barn. He could never stay mad at you, and after the thunder and lightning of his displeasure quickly passed, he would shower you with the rain of his affection.
He also showered others with generosity when he had nothing to give, particularly in his later years. He would give money to help a child or grandchild in need. He would offer money or resources to a friend in a tough spot. He was liberal with his monetary reward to anyone that worked for him and made sure they were well compensated.
A man of deep feelings of compassion he had a knack of consoling during a time of grief or loss. Cameo remembers how Dad laid down beside her on the bed and hugged her when she was inconsolable with grief after Mom’s miscarriage. Then later in life he offered the same love and support at the loss of a baby. He would shower you with love and empathy as he stepped into the gap and took care of whatever needed to be done while you coped with the loss and grief.
His life was full of rain. He showered his life with work. He showered his friends with service. He showered his family with affection.
Yes, Eddie Booher entered this world a timid and almost lifeless baby. But he lived his life like a Kentucky afternoon thunderstorm with booming thunder, flashes of bold lightning, and the life-giving rain of love and affection. Remember him because he was loud. Remember him because he was inspired. Remember him because he loved and cared for so many of us. The next time you hear the rolling thunder, see the flashes of lightning, and feel the rain on your skin, think of our Dad, Eddie Booher, and be grateful that you knew the loud, bold, and compassionate man that he was.
This entry was posted on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Saturday, May 07, 2016 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .