Today has been an especially blue day. Lost a dear friend last yesterday and it brought back a lot of raw emotions of mom and dad leaving us a couple months ago. This post is a copy of the eulogy I gave at my dad’s memorial service. He led one of the most interesting lives I’ve ever known. Not just because he was my dad, but because his early years were simply amazing in many ways. A few weeks before he passed (after mom had passed on) he told me that he had “a pretty rough life early on.” He said he wanted to sit down with me and my brother to tell us. I’m glad he didn’t. I miss you dad. I recently “found” a voicemail he had sent me on January 6, 2016. It was his usual 4 minute voicemail, full of encouragement to go after what God had called me to do. I’m trying dad. You and mom keep cheering us on in the effort. (Heb. 12:1-2)
December 27, 2016
Thank you everyone for sharing this difficult day with us. My dad would have loved this…because he loved people…loved being around people…loved talking to people (can I get an “amen”?) He never met a stranger, certainly never treated anyone like a stranger. He loved people…
My father loved life in just about every way. He lived his life with so much energy and passion. There are far too many great stories I could tell about my dad… we simply don’t have the time. I’m positive that besides scripture, my dad has been the most quoted person I’ve used in my messages for the past 25 years of ministry. You know the kind of quotes: horse sense, common sense…living life with passion.
If there’s one thing I would want you all to know about my dad…is that he was a dreamer…and because of that gift of thinking big, seeing things big…reaching for things in a big way…He literally believed, “Nothing was impossible…” He did things…and accomplished things in his life because nothing was impossible. And when he and my mom gave their lives to Christ when I was about 3 years old…Dad understood that nothing was impossible with God. And He lived his life that way very literally.
Dad was raised in the hills of central Virginia…the baby of 11 children…in a family that had survived the Depression. Having nothing…was the norm in the Freeman house. And growing up in a tough environment was a very difficult reality for most of the Freeman kids. My grandfather was cut from a different cloth. When my dad was beginning his 8th grade year, he decided he wanted to play football for the first time. So instead of using the money grandpa had given him for schoolbook rental, he rented the football gear. My grandpa woke him up in the middle of the night, had his clothes packed and kicked him out…he was 15 years old. Dad walked 15 miles that night to his uncle’s house. He then hitchhiked to Richmond, found a boarding house and began working in a factory. It’s what he had to do…nothing was impossible…he just did it.
A few months later my dad met a girl…no, not my mom, but thought he was in love. She was in Virginia seeing family, but lived in California. So, he just packed a bag, at the ripe old age of 16 and began hitchhiking to California to find this girl. He arrived in Lawrence, KS one morning, asleep in the car of the man who had picked up in Kansas City…the driver stole some oil cans and a new tire and sped off. They were caught and this 16-year-old Virginia boy spent 12 days in the Lawrence jail for vagrancy (having no money…). They called my grandpa and asked what to do with him…and he replied, “Well…is he okay? Is he sleeping at night? Are you feeding him? Then…I don’t see what the problem is.”
Dad was released and made his way down to Great Bend, KS at the beginning of June of 1958 and someone directed him to Dixon’s Pool Hall. Dixon’s is where all the farmers hung out and played dominoes. That’s where he met a man named Emmitt Fisher. Wheat harvest was starting up and Emmitt could use the extra help. My dad ended up living with Emmitt and Elizabeth Fisher for nearly a year. They took him in as their own…loved him…cared for him. When dad turned 17, he decided to return home to Virginia in order to get his parent’s permission to enlist in the Army before 18. He wanted to see the world…see what the military had to offer.
Dad was always proud of his service. He was trained as a sharpshooter. He became and expert on the Browning M1 rifle and was eventually offered a spot on the Armies elite competition team that traveled Europe competing against other units as well as other nation’s best. He used to tell me, “Son, when I was on that team, I could put a squirrel’s eye out at 100 yards with an open sight, and do it 3 times within a second.” (Pretty sure there was some exaggeration there…but he really was good.) Dad was stationed in West Berlin during the Cuban Missile crises. He watched as the Russian tanks lined up at the boarder track to track. He told me that it was probably the most scared he’d ever been in his life. He said all these tough soldiers were weeping like babies, writing letters home all night. His unit had been told their job would simply be to fight until the back-ups would get there…they would likely not make it if the Russians came through. Thankfully…the crisis was averted.
He eventually would return home to Virginia, begin working in a cigarette factory and then he met my mom. They met on a blind date and 3 months later were married. The Baptist pastor almost didn’t marry them because dad wasn’t sure if he really believed there was a God. He was only being honest…he had actually never stepped foot into a church before that day.
Mom and dad would eventually move to Joliet, Illinois where dad’s oldest brother (Karla’s father) had met the Lord. And Uncle Johnny would not let up on them. They went to the opening night of a revival service at an A/G church and my mother was horrified…they walked out thinking all of them were nuts…swearing they would never go back. But they did…and the next evening their lives changed forever.
A couple of years later, Grandma and Grandpa Fisher, the old farmer couple in Great Bend, found out through letters that Dad had gotten married and had a couple of young boys and they wanted to see all of us. They sent train tickets and we went to visit. While there…in the summer of 1969, Grandpa Fisher made my dad an offer he couldn’t refuse. Barton County Community College was about to open for their first semester that fall…and Grandpa Fisher said, “Seth, if you want to go to school there, move your family here and I’ll pay for it.” The 26-year-old father with a seventh grade education had been shown the grace and favor of the Lord. We moved…Dad spent the first year taking classes to complete his GED…then received a degree in electronics. (I used to tease dad, “You took 3 years to finish a 2 year school. He would say, “Well…you took for 4 years in high school to do what I did in one…who’s smarter??”)
Nothing was impossible. My dad opened up a TV repair shop while working at the Fuller Brush factory and managing an apartment complex. My parents worked tirelessly to provide….because nothing was impossible with God. He was a great, I mean great salesman. He was possibly most proud of the fact that he became a regional sales manager for Motorola. From such humble beginnings to success with one of the worlds largest companies.
When I was a freshman in high school, my dad bought a tower company from a friend who was retiring. He used to climb 300-foot towers like they were nothing, painting, re-lamping, inspecting them for the FAA. He got Randy and I up there…me more than Randy. We learned how to work hard, watching my dad. He made us work. There was always grass to mow, weeds to pull, an apartment to paint…I can’t remember getting paid much for that…you just did it because you were eating at his table and wearing the clothes he bought for you. (One time he woke me up on a Saturday morning to tell me to be sure to have the grass mowed before he got back home that day. I said, “Dad, what do I get if I get the grass mowed?” He said, “Think about what you’ll get if you don’t.”)
In 1972…JP McCamey rode into town to become the pastor of the church we were attending and quickly became my dad’s personal hero. Whatever McCamey preached that Sunday, dad could repeat. One day JP brought my dad a manual written by Tommy Barnett and Bill Wilson on how to build a bus ministry. My dad ran with it…eventually running numerous busses, even to Ellinwood and Hoisington, bringing tons and tons of kids to church on Sunday. So many families were changed for eternity by his efforts. And most Saturdays, dad was dragging us along to knock on doors and invite kids to church the next day.
Nothing was impossible with God. My dad really did love God…and he had a deep, deep faith. Nothing was impossible. Many don’t know that dad completed Rhema Bible College in Tulsa, OK in the early 80’s…doing it all through their correspondence program. He would devour the books on healing and faith…and believed it every day of his life.
Dad was generous to a fault. This was often a point of contention with mom. Mom would say, “We could retire one day if your dad wouldn’t give half of it away.” He got into real estate about 25 years ago. He started buying small houses and trailers at tax sales. He would rehab them a little, then sell them on contract…owner carry. So at the first of the month, he would drive around to these properties collecting the payments. I would call mom, “Hey, where dad?” “Oh…he’s up in Hutch, filled the back of his van with food to take to some of his renters…and you know, he’ll end up telling 2 or 3 just to skip this month’s payment because they are struggling right now.” (If you knew my mom…that would never fly…she’d be all over them.) Dad was just a big softy…I think because he knew exactly what it meant to have nothing…and to have someone give him a break when he needed it the most.
Nothing was impossible in his mind.
The next deal was the big one…the next house was going to be a home run…the next multilevel just might make us a million. He was a dreamer…because nothing was impossible with God. God was just looking for someone who would dare to dream with Him.
His biggest dreams were for myself and Randy. He believed I would be the next Steve Green…and sometimes wondered about Randy. But he was always would tell me…”you watch out for Randy…he’s going to blow us all away one day.” Randy…you did it…you blew dad away…he was so very proud of you…and your big brother is proud of you as well.
He believed that nothing was impossible for his grandkids too. The bar was set high for all six of you…and your folks know you’re all going to exceed expectations. Because Seth Freeman was your grandpa…and nothing is impossible.
I’m proud and grateful to be Seth Freeman’s son. I’m proud to be his namesake. He was a good man…with a huge heart…and a passion for life. Today his passion is fulfilled. He’s walking hand-in-hand with mom…the one he was most passionate about. He went to be with her on their 53rd anniversary on his terms…in his way…because nothing is impossible with God. We love you dad!