Eulogy: Glen Clarence Miller

Several people asked me for a copy of the eulogy I prepared for my dad's funeral, but I'm afraid I was in a bit of a haze at the time and didn't take mental note of who. For those who wanted a copy, those who wanted to be there but couldn't, and those who want to know more about the best man I've ever known, here it is:

Glen Clarence Miller was born to Walter and Carol on December 4th, 1952. He was an active child with an active mind—walking at nine months, talking at age two. His mother is fond of telling the story of him as a toddler, hiding from her on a wintry day. Despite being in a yellow snowsuit, she couldn’t find him anywhere, and became quite panicked . . . till she discovered him pressed up against a haystack, blending in perfectly, trying his hardest not to laugh.

From a young age, Glen displayed a sense of humor he carried with him throughout his entire life. Like the time he filled a paper plate with talcum powder and flung it into his sister’s bedroom, the time he toilet papered a friend’s car so completely not a speck of the actual car was visible, and the many times he put “Honk! It’s my birthday!” signs on people’s cars.

Whether he was tormenting his younger siblings, playing pranks on good friends (who amazingly stayed good friends), or teasing, tickling, and tossing all the children who came within reach of his “tummy fingers,” Glen lived his life joyfully and inspired joy in others. He started many a conversation with the question, “Are we having fun yet?” and spent much of his time trying to help people do just that.

Glen’s sense of humor was matched only by his sense of adventure. In his Young Adult days, if there was a road that could be driven on, he had to explore it. He carried this zest for exploration into his later years, and many of us are familiar with his love of taking “the scenic route,” and announcing with a twinkle in his eye, “Of all the places I’ve ever been . . . this is one of them.”

What Glen is best known for though, is his many acts of quiet service. He was blessed with an ability to reason out how things work, an understanding he applied often as he built, repaired, and improved things in the lives of those he loved and served. He never questioned the worth of those who asked him for help, and he never said “no” because helping would be inconvenient. Able and willing were the same thing to Glen. If he could, he did. Of course, things didn’t always go according to plan. Like the time he “fixed” the wiring in his sister’s car and her windshield wipers turned on whenever she hit the turn signal.

Glen’s intelligence presented itself at an early age, when he struggled in school because it simply wasn’t challenging enough for him. With the help of his mother, he learned how to challenge himself, and many of his “projects” came from a desire to test his personal limits. He had a thirst for knowledge, and a love of experimentation.

One day though, Glen had the opportunity to talk to Rob’s grad date. Having inquired if she liked to dance, Glen was told, “I mosh.” Confused, Glen later brought the incident up with Dora, saying that he didn’t think the girl was a member of the church as they had thought, considering she’d told him she was “Amish.”

Even so, Glen could have used his cleverness to chase down wealth and prestige, and probably could have acquired both, but instead he chose to serve. And more than that, he had a fundamental respect for the people he helped. He never tried to make anyone feel small so that he could feel big. He never brought up the many hours he spent helping others so that he could be praised and honored. When someone was in need, Glen didn’t say, “I’m great at that.” He said, “I can help with that.” There was a quiet humility to him that translated into all areas of his life.

As a father, he rarely lost his temper with his children. There were only two sure ways to set him off: 1) be intentionally hurtful, 2) make Dora cry. If you did either of those things, you were at risk of hearing what few people ever did—Glen raising his voice. If you did both, you were in real trouble.

Glen was a fierce defender of his family. His brother Jason fondly remembers the first time he knew for sure his older brother actually liked him. While on the way home one day, some neighbourhood kids started pelting Jason with snowballs. Glen came rushing out of their front yard, hurling retribution at the attackers, shouting at them to pick on someone their own size. He had a deeply held belief that a person should never intentionally try to hurt another, and despite living in a world where this is by no means a common belief, he lived his life accordingly and taught his children though his example.

He taught us all through his example.

Glen believed that kindness is a verb. He wasn’t much for pretty words and compliments. He showed his love through hard work, and through being there without question whenever he felt he was needed. Above all, he did so with no hint of vanity or pride. He didn’t need glory or attention, and he never pretended to be other than he was. Glen didn’t wear one face in public and a different one at home. He was who he was in all aspects of his life: deeply committed to his family, deeply committed to his friends, deeply committed to his faith.

The Miller family went on a lot of road trips over the years. Up to Terrace to see Glen’s family, down to Oregon for summer camping adventures, and further down to California where he and Dora explored their favourite haunts. No matter how long the trip, Glen wasn’t much for making unscheduled stops along the way, and not a fan of having slow vehicles in front of him either. But as much as he enjoyed taking corners just a little too fast (making poor Dora cling for dear life), or making a trip in record time, he also didn’t mind taking a longer route for a change in scenery. One could speculate that it wasn’t so much about the speed as it was the quality of the journey.

When Glen decided to do something, he did it. When he decided to go somewhere, he went there, and had a knack for removing obstacles (or speeding around them). The same can be said of his earthly life. Glen knew where he was going, and he did what was necessary to get there. In a now infamous talk given a couple years back, Glen told the assembled saints that if they weren’t aiming for the Celestial Kingdom, they might as well not be at church. This earned a few bursts of shocked laughter from some, and stunned silence from others, but he went on to bear a testimony regarding our purpose on this earth that was so bold and so powerful, the spirit poured out in abundance.

Glen Miller was a valiant disciple of Christ. He followed the example of his Saviour in this life, lovingly and humbly serving all who had need of his help. And we have no doubt that he continues to do so now, even though we no longer have the privilege of bearing witness to the fact. We know where he is. He is, as always, exactly where he set out to go. And he has, once again, done so a little faster than his traveling companions are comfortable with.

But there is no doubt that the Lord has said to him as we read in Matthew 25:21 – “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” 

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we won’t be able to call him up anymore. That when we think, “I bet Glen knows that,” or, “I’ll just call Glen,” he won’t be there to answer. But the world is a better place because Glen Miller lived in it for sixty-two years. Now it is our turn to serve. It’s our turn to figure out where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there. It’s our turn to make sure the world is a better place because we were here, and because we were lucky enough to have the example of a man named Glen Miller in our lives. 

1 comment:

  1. That is a beautiful tribute to your daddy's life. Thank you for sharing it.