My dad, Charles William Haley, went home to glory (and to God and to Mom) on April 15. It was not COVID-19 related, and he passed peacefully and painlessly, with my brother and sister able to be with him for his final breath.
On the night my dad died, my family watched that wonderful movie, Amadeus, about the life of Mozart. He loved that film (and I do too) and watching it was a way to feel connected to him as I knew the end was approaching. I got the call from my sister Ruth right during that powerful scene in the film near the end where Mozart is dictating the Requiem, something I sang in college with Mom and Dad in the audience. In it is this, and now it is for my dad:
“Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.”
“Grant him eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on him.”
My eulogy for him follows, as well as my last letter that was read to him shortly before he died. He was able to receive and understand this letter and those by Tara and the kids, and interact with us meaningfully one last time even if the best we could do was a video call. For a great look at who my dad was, this collection of photos tells his story as well as any book, even better, for a book cannot pick up the kindness of his face and his obvious joy at being with his family. Dad’s obituary is here.
I offer all these things as a tribute to my father, and to honor him.
This is sad news. But the great news is that Dad is now having the best days of his life!! Praise God for Jesus! Praise God for the Resurrection! Praise God for hope! Praise God that this is not the end. Amen.
“It Was More Than Enough”: A Eulogy for Charles William Haley
Were it a normal funeral, I might speak for 30 minutes on Charles William Haley and what he has meant to me as his son. As it is, I’ll be brief, blunt, and very sincere.
When I speak of Mom and Dad, I often will say this, and it is deeply true, and for today it’s about Dad: Dad loved God very truly, and he loved his children very deeply, and it was enough. It was enough.
Dad wasn’t perfect at all. Who among us is? His shortcomings pained him deeply, and he worked on them all the way to the end, and this is as commendable as it is rare. But Dad really did love God and he really did love us, and his love of Mom grew deeper too. And it was enough.
Dad struggled. He was a mystic in a tradition that was more rational, he was sensual and passionate in a context that didn’t know what to do with it. But he worked so hard and endured so very much, and he did the best he could, and it was enough.
Dad worked very very hard to provide for his family as best he could, and he did, with Mom’s sacrifices too. And it was enough.
Dad loved his wife, his kids, his grandkids, and his great-grandkids. With Mom he was literally present at the moment of the birth of each of my children a half a country away. Liam, Iona, Karis, and Maira, your Grandpa loved you. And it was enough.
Dad’s ministry throughout his life has its own good legacy, while his greatest legacy will be in his progeny, and he had a sense of this. As adults, Ruth, Beth, Taylor, and I are all committed to Jesus Christ and are committed to further God’s kingdom, and this is really quite something. That in itself is enough.
Dad was not perfect, but it’s not those things I’ll remember. I’ll remember and more importantly am living and will live Dad’s legacy in my life.
I learned from Dad about loving your children.
I learned from Dad about grace.
I learned from Dad what a good father does.
I learned from Dad about working hard to provide for your family.
I learned from Dad about fidelity to a man’s wife.
I learned from Dad about loving people who didn’t feel loved.
I learned from Dad about being willing to keep growing all the way to heaven.
I learned from Dad about orienting your life around God in spite of one’s self.
And this a lot, and it is enough.
Dad’s life lived faithfully to the end was enough. It was more than enough. It was more than enough.
I was glad to get to say to him near the end those same words I offered to Mom at the end. “Dad, I love you…see you in the morning.”
And now Dad has heard those same words that Mom got, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And now they are together.
Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.