Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dad's Eulogy

This was my Dad's eulogy which I gave at his funeral last week.

As the eldest in the family I was been nominated to speak today, and even though I would’ve loved for someone else to do it, I feel like it’s an honour to share some thoughts about our Dad’s life with you.
We are blessed that my Dad has actually been writing down his life story – he started doing it in 2012, but recently felt an urgency to finish his story, and we have no doubt that he knew his time was getting shorter.  Thank you Dad for making my job easier.

Nicholas Leigh Triffitt was born to Henry Leo Triffitt and Shiela May Woolley on 26th June 1952 at Franklin Tasmania on the Huon River below Huonville. He was the fifth of sixth children including Howard, Chayne, Wanda, Tom, Dad who was known as Nick, and Kim.  
Whenever Dad would talk about his parents – our Nan and Pop, he would say what good parents they were and that they were the best parents anyone could have.  In November I felt like we needed to record Dad talking about his life, because I had a feeling we wouldn’t have him for long.  In that video he mentioned his Mum and Dad, and he started crying and said that he can’t talk about them without getting emotional because he missed them so much.
Our Nan had been a member of the church most of her life but hadn’t always gone, but in 1955 my Pop was baptised into the church, and as a family they started going together regularly. This meant that Dad was brought up in the church most of his life and in 1963 the family travelled to New Zealand Temple to be sealed together as a family.

When my boys and I interviewed Dad for our recording, we wanted him to retell the famous story about the cat.   Dad said that if that’s the only thing we were going to remember him by,  it was pretty poor.  He retold them the story that when he was somewhere between 2-4 years old he put the family cat in the oven which was turned on, and consequently cooked the cat.  As Nan couldn’t bear to cook in the oven anymore, Pop traded it in to an electrical shop for a new one and they later found out that one of their good friends had bought their old oven! I always remember Pop changing the words of a song that went ‘if we knew you were coming we’d have baked a cake’, to ‘if we knew you were coming we’d have baked a cat’ when we were growing up.

Dad will always be known for the cat story, but we also remember him for so much more. 
Dad went to the Glen Huon State School from age five to age seven which was down the road from his home. He had a bad bout of poor health when he was around 6 years old and remembered going backward and forwards to the Doctor in Huonville.  It was after repeated visits to the doctor, he was finally diagnosed with mild rheumatic fever and was off school for about six weeks. Dad also had trouble with asthma throughout his life and he had always thought that because of his health issues, that I would not live as long as his Mum and Dad, who were 84 and 86 when they passed away.  

During the late fifties, Dad’s family were keen to get a farm. In 1960 they moved to Dunorlan after they purchased of a 300 acre dairy farm. Dad was only seven years old when they moved. He had lots of fond memories of growing up in Dunorlan. Dad used to spend this leisure time catching rabbits with a ferret in the burrows with his brother Kim. Dad said they spent countless hours ferreting and then as they got older they got bikes and would ride around the area exploring. He particularly remembered going off to his friend’s houses after school and spending time at their places.
Growing up on a farm meant there was always lots of work to be done. Dad started working in the dairy around 10 or 11 years of age. He remembered milking cows prior to going to school with his brother Chayne. Dad always remembered carting square bales of hay into the truck and putting them into the barn during summer holidays and said it always seemed that when the weather was the hottest, they were doing the hay bailing and carting. 
Dad was not known for being sporty, but he used to love playing badminton on a team with his brothers Kim and Howard and Mum and Dad, against other local teams in the area.

Dad along with the rest of the family spent hours in the car travelling to and from Launceston to attend Church which saw the beginning of an established unit of the Church in Launceston.  Because Dad was often in Launceston, he became interested in becoming a radio announcer.  He did a course and then worked nights, on and off for a couple of years on the radio station 7EX in Launceston.

Pop was always concerned for his families’ wellbeing so he purchased an adjoining farm which also had a dairy on it which was called Vandilla.  In 1973 Pop invited Dad’s brother Howard and Dad to take over Vandilla, which they did.  Uncle Howard said he has great memories of a good working relationship with Dad on the farm.  He said Dad was very loyal, easy to work with and offered good advice and ideas, and he always well and truly did his share of the hard work.

Our Mum - Lorraine Dean, had started coming to church in 1972 with her friend Janice, and was baptised and Mum and Dad met at a church dance.  When we asked Mum what she liked about Dad she said that he was ‘steady’ and Dad liked Mum because she was ‘racy’.  Dad said it was love at first sight when he saw Mum, but that she didn’t love him for a little while.  If there’s an example of the saying ‘opposites attract’ you just had to look at Dad and Mum.   They were married in Launceston on the 18th August 1973, and then went to Hamilton, New Zealand to be sealed in the temple as there were no temples in Australia at the time.
A local real estate agent approached Dad to buy a house at Dunorlan that belonged to a man who had very little time left, so the house and ½ acre was purchased for $1,000.  The house was called “Barnbougle”, and it was there that they started married life together.
Dad said that his marriage to Mum was the best thing that ever happened to him.  Their first home had the barest essentials including an outdoor toilet, but Dad was always a hard worker and even though Dad did not care at all about possessions, he wanted to provide well for our family. 
Mum and Dad had six children – me being the eldest, being born 10 months after they were married, then Jared, Christian, Eden, our brother Daniel who passed away as a baby, and then Nicki.  All 6 of us are only 8 years apart, so life was very busy at home with 5 small children.  

 Mum and Dad with Jared
Our brother Daniel passed away in 1981 at the age of 9 months from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Dad remembered having a bath with him and having Daniel face him and seem like he was saying ‘I will not be around for a while’.   Our cousin Levi was born the same day that Daniel passed away and Dad has always had a special love for Levi and knew that he wanted Levi to be one of the pall bearers at his funeral.  

Dad was a hard worker and as children we remember him either being out on the farm, or working hard at church - first as a branch president in 1979 and then a bishop in 1980 where he served for several years before taking on other callings including being a member of the stake Presidency.    Dad was the bishop when Uncle Kim and Aunty Deidre were married and he got to marry them in their lounge room at their farm home in Dunorlan which was known as the ‘pink house’.  

We have fond memories of working with Dad on the farm as he started growing crops with Pop and also on his own, including potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and peas.  Because Dad wasn’t often home, Mum was the one who had most of the responsibility for raising us, but we all agree that even though Dad was not known for ever raising his voice or being the one to discipline us, we never wanted to disappoint him.  

Dad has always been great with numbers and sold insurance for a little while, and then because not a lot of money was made in farming, he stopped growing crops and started to work at Ashley youth detention centre in 1988, where he worked in a number of roles including working in the office and also working with the youth.  Dad enjoyed working there for many years before he left, and he especially loved working with Jim Horsman who we affectionately call ‘Uncle Jim’.  We knew that Dad was well respected there just by the way we were treated by his colleagues, and even the youth that were in detention.  

After Dad left Ashley he started work at the Deloraine and then Latrobe hospital before he retired early because of health problems. 

In the same year that Dad started working at Ashley, Mum and Dad built their dream home just up the hill from the first home they bought, at Dunorlan.  While the home was being built we have great memories of living in the shed right near the house.  It was freezing at times, and often crowded with Barbara and Ralph Young and their family also living in there with us for a short time, but it still brings back some of our fondest memories as a family.  

Dad was a simple man in that he loved the simple things in life.  It was important to him that we all sat down at the table to eat together every night, and would always ask us what we were up to and want to hear about our day.   All of us remembered how excited we would be if he would come home with a block of chocolate on special nights, and all of us would get a row of chocolate each. 

While Dad was still working at Ashley we started growing flowers as a business.  I don’t know if we can say that we have fond memories of working together in the flowers as it was hard work before and after school every night, but Dad and Mum definitely taught us all how to work hard.   Dad took after Nan as he took great pride in his veggie garden, and he often had us out there as kids to help weed, plant and pick.  At the time we hated it, but now we are all growing our own veggies and had been asking Dad for advice and realising that we are all getting old as we are getting excited about vegetable gardens. Dad was always famous for growing way too many beans and always having heaps of raspberries.  We would love family dinners especially so we could all have massive bowls of raspberries.  

In 1992 Mum and Dad went on a trip of a lifetime together to the USA and Canada.  They were so happy to meet up with Janice who was Mum’s friend who brought her into the church as she is now living in Canada.  Dad has a notebook that he has been writing in over the last couple of months, and in it he said that driving on the right side of the road took courage and he was scared even thinking of it as he wrote about it in his book.
All of us remember well family holidays that we had at Bridport, Coles Bay, Boat Harbour and a long holiday when we drove our old yellow van from Melbourne to Queensland.  
But most of all we remember Dad’s character.   He was always so steadfast in what he believed and in his values. Dad’s dream holiday would be going to the temple for a week.  Whenever we went to the temple he had so much energy and would do two or three sessions every day, day after day and would still want to go more.   
Even though Dad was always busy with work and church we never once heard him complain or speak badly of anyone.  He always felt like he wasn’t doing enough.  If any of us would speak about someone, he would tell us off with a ‘oh come on now!’ as he would tell us to stop. 
He was dedicated to serving in the church and we have had many people tell us how much they loved having him as their home teacher as they knew that he would visit them every month without fail.   He always took a genuine interest in the families he would visit and always worried about them and would do anything he could to help them.

When I married Aaron in 1995 we started to see a different side of Dad.  Dad was always so straight, and at first he didn’t know how to take Aaron’s inappropriate jokes at times, but after a little while he actually started to encourage them which always made us laugh.  Aaron got away with a lot - calling him ‘Nickel Ass’ instead of ‘Nicholas’ which he loved and just a couple of weeks ago Dad visited Aaron’s grave at the cemetery and spoke out loud to him, and had a laugh about what he used to call him.  Dad was also known to never ever drink coke or Pepsi when we were growing up, but since Aaron passed away Dad has loved having a Pepsi on Aaron’s birthday or the anniversary of Aaron’s death.  We loved to tease him that he was going off the rails, but he said that he was doing it for Aaron. 
Dad did not serve a mission for the church but some of the proudest moments of our Dad’s life were when his boys went on missions for the church – Jared going to Adelaide, Christian to Sydney and Eden to New Zealand. He still talks about it and hopes that his grandchildren will continue in their Dad’s and uncle’s footsteps and serve missions when they are old enough.  

During our teenage years Mums health wasn’t good and we always remember Dad being very strong and never seeming like he was stressed, even though we are sure that he was.  

Dad loved the family growing with daughter and son in laws coming along and he treated Aaron, Becky, Steph and Alex just like his own children.  He was so happy that all of us had been married in the temple and he loved being a grandpa.  

Dad’s first grandchild was born in 1999 with the birth of Jalen and he has 15 grandchildren at the moment, with one more on the way. When Nicki announced at Christmas time that she was pregnant Dad clapped his hands together and yelled ‘that’s the best news!!’ and was so excited to know that there was another one on the way.  I can’t remember ever seeing Dad so happy.

Dad was always known to take an interest in individuals. He was always keen to know what people were up to, and genuinely cared about how they were going.  He also loved to learn about church history and to do his family history and was always reading a church book or magazine.  When he was in hospital last week, he walked down to the TV room because he didn’t have his scriptures with him until his iPad charged up, and he found a New Testament there and took it back to his hospital bed with him.  When we walked in to visit he had the New Testament there as well as his ensign and was reading the boys quote from the articles he was reading.
Dad wasn’t very musical but he has always loved good music, and said that it lifted him up when he was down.  He told me that the night that Aaron passed away he listened to the Bee Gees all night to help him, as he was home on his own.   He wanted to learn the piano as an adult and had a few lessons but gave up after a little while.  

Dad loved it when it was general conference at church, and was always quoting different talks from leaders. Just lately some of my cousins have been telling me that every time Dad talks to them he reminds them to ‘stay in the boat’ which was one of the talks at a recent conference.  Dad was always very spiritual, but even more so over the last couple of months.  He has always been a great missionary, telling people about the church, but over the last couple of months he felt like he couldn’t do enough missionary work. He wanted everyone to know what he believed.  
Dad’s health wasn’t good when he was young, and over the past 7 years or so he’s had a lot of health issues including benign tumours in his brain, loss of some of his hearing, hydrocephalus which was too much fluid in his brain, a heard condition, and just over five years ago he was diagnosed with the early onset of dementia.   In the end Dad had a bleed in his brain and although it was serious, Dad was still able to talk and move around and tell us things he wanted us to know, even after his operation.   He joked with my boys that he wanted to give them some ‘parting words’ just in case he didn’t pull through the operation, but I know that Dad knew that his time was coming soon.   

Over the past few years Dad became quite frail at times and needed a lot of support and care.  Just as Dad had supported Mum during the years when her health had deteriorated, Mum has cared for Dad over the last few years.  As a family we would like to thank all the staff at Munnew Day Centre.  Dad made many friends there and spoke fondly of all the staff and enjoyed going there a couple of times a week.  We would also like to thank his carers Lorraine, Mike and Debbie who gave Dad so much support and great care. 

Just a couple of months ago something happened to Dad.  He was so sick a few months ago that we didn’t think he was going to pull through, but he became well again and all of a sudden had a renewed energy and will to live.  It was then that Dad started to write everything down in a notebook. He couldn’t sleep because he had so much going on in his mind, and was remembering things that he couldn’t recall for years.   Dad kept telling us that he had been getting visits from our Pop and also Aaron and was very emotional about it. He had been telling people that his time was short and he had to get his things in order because he was going to pass away soon.   He would even wake up Mum in the middle of the night, wanting her to help plan his funeral.  

Dad started writing a list of places he wanted to go and things he wanted to do before he died.  Unfortunately he didn’t get through very much of the list, but we hope that where he is now makes up for it, as he is now with many people who he loved and missed for so long, including Daniel, Nan and Pop, my husband Aaron and his grandson Noah.  

In Dad’s note book he wrote that with all of his health issues and predictions of a shortened life by the doctors, he wasn’t sure which one would get him first. He said he was reminded of the hymn ‘Did you think to pray’.  He wrote:  ‘have I done all of those things I needed to do to meet those who would be waiting on the other side of the veil?’.  

To us we couldn’t find a better person than Dad.  We never heard him say a bad word about anyone, and he always put church first in his life, but he always felt like he was never doing enough.  He recently wrote in his notebook ‘as I went to church I entered into a pact with myself to be a better person from week to week and not to be on a plateau, to step forward. Not to rest on a step but to keep moving upwards and forward’.  
We have no doubt that Dad was being prepared, and we are so blessed to have seen a different Dad in the last couple of months. Dad was not one to show very much emotion as we were growing up, but we were blessed to have him tell us everything he wanted us to know before he passed away.  Dad loved to share his testimony and his testimonies over the last few months have been very powerful.   We talked about how impressed we were with his talk that he gave at his granddaughter Chloe’s baptism a few months ago.  Even though the dementia caused his mind to not be clear, he gave a very clear and powerful talk. 

Dad had complications after his operation and went into a coma.  We are so grateful for the care and love that Dad and all of us received in the hospital in Hobart from the doctors and nurses and many friends, who made it easier for us.     Dad held on for almost three days and we had a feeling that he was waiting for something and we didn’t know what it was, until his only sister Wanda came to see him.  He passed away ten minutes after she came and we imagined at that moment the reunions he would’ve been having with those who had passed away before him. 

Dad always said he wanted to be remembered as being a good grandfather and father, and I have no doubt that his grandchildren here today, will always remember the funny, happy Grandpa who loved them all very much.  We love you so much Dad and will miss you until we meet again.    We couldn’t have had a better Dad. 

Dad said to me last week in the hospital that when he got home after his operation, that I would have to help him finish writing his life story, because his mind was having trouble thinking of words because of his brain bleed.  I told him that I would come up on my days off work and the weekends to help him finish his book, but he had other plans and had to leave us before it was finished.  

Dad your story will continue to be written in the lives of your family – including Mum, your children and your grandchildren.  We hope that we can continue to make you proud in the way that we live and can’t wait until the day when we are all together again one day.


  1. The eulogy was beautiful Lisa, but so much lovelier with the photos to look at alongside. A lot of them made me laugh - especially his beanie at the snow...that's exactly how my Dad wears his beanie too! xxx

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this Lisa. I so badly wanted to be there to celebrate his life and honor the amazing man that he is. Much love to you all xxx

  3. That was beautiful Lisa. I'm sorry I couldn't make it up for the funeral, and while I didn't feel like I really helped at all in the last week, it was nice to be able to spend some time with you all, even though Uncle Nick was unconscious. He really was an excellent example, and we are all better because we knew him. You were lucky to have him as your dad!
    Thinking of you all,
    Mick, Hannah & the girls

  4. I loved all the photos interspersed with the beautiful words!

  5. Elizabeth in Georgia,USA10 February 2015 at 01:04

    Thanks,Lisa for such a great post about your dad. My favorite pic is your mum and dad in the boat and they both are so happy! You have done such a great thing for your dad and your family. I never knew your dad, but I sure felt his testimony and love thru your words and it made me smile and to shed a few tears,too. My parents are in their mid 80 s and I worry about how my reaction will be when they pass, as my mom has had cancer which is currently in remission. She too is telling everyone she meets about the Gospel. It is true, I think they have a sixth sense of when Heavenly Father may call them home. I hope I have the courage and strength that you have when the time comes. You are truly an inspiration. Love to you and your family. Take especially great care of your can help her best,as you know first hand what it is like to lose your eternal companion, even for a little while.

  6. Beautiful Lisa. Loved your thoughts about your Dad and loved the photos. A good man, a life lived well.

  7. Thanks for sharing this Lisa. What captured me most was what a great man he was throughout his life. Loved the pictures, you are so fortunate to have those of him as a child. I am so sorry for your family's loss but as you said, think he knew his time was coming and gave the greatest gift; his clarity in the latter months. Hugs to you all.

  8. Jalen looks like his great grandad don't you think?
    Great post, well done,

  9. Oh Lisa, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved Dad.

    You wrote a beautiful eulogy for your Dad, I loved learning about him and what an incredible man he was and how he'll continue to live on in you and your family.

    Sending you big love, xxx


We are so grateful for everyone's love and support, and appreciate your comments xoxo

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