And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts
and minds through Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:7
I had the honor of giving my grandfather's eulogy at the funeral this past Thursday and I want to share it with those of you who could not attend the funeral, or who didn't know him. He was an amazing man and I already miss him so much. He was a very big part of my life, one of my biggest fans, always letting me know how proud of me he was. I adored him and I was thankful for the chance to share with other's the kind of man he was.
How do you sum up Pepere’s life in 5 minutes? I don’t think you can, because in his 88 years on this earth, this giant of a man, one of my heroes, brought more love, laughter, courage and fun into our lives than a mere 5 minutes can convey. What I would like to do is give you a glimpse into the life of this man we loved so, so much.
So who was Reginald Boucher? He was first a son and brother, born to O’Neil and Eva Boucher in 1928. One story I remember him telling me from when he was a child was about the worst Christmas he ever had. He had wanted a pair of ice skates very badly. Some presents were under the tree and I am unsure if it was Christmas Eve or the days leading up to Christmas but, he was so eager to find out if he got skates that when his parents were not around, he opened the box with his name on it. Sure enough, his wish had come true, he was going to get a new pair of skates. He attempted to get the box back to how it was so his parents wouldn’t know he had opened the package, but they knew. On Christmas morning when he opened his gift he was surprised to find that in the box, where once his ice skates had been, a large brick. He claims he never got those ice skates so I can’t tell you if they later gave him the skates…or if this story is actually true, since Pepere loved to tease us so much. It’s very possible Pepere was telling me this story to keep me honest and show me what opening my own presents too soon could lead to!He was then a soldier in the United States Army, and fought in the Korean War. He shared with me that while he was in the military he was a boxer. My grandfather was a great athlete and always in very good shape, exercising till the last day! I haven’t known anyone more disciplined than Pepere. He also learned to cut hair in the military and even cut my husbands hair once, before we were married! My husband cuts our own boys hair so a few years back Pepere gave him his old hair cutting kit he used in the army. If you saw this kit you would understand why there’s no way Ben cuts our kid’s hair with it but it made Pepere happy to think that there was a chance it might still get used. He loved giving my husband his old tools, as much as Memere hated it because she felt Pepere was forcing us to take his junk. I assure you to my husband, it is not junk but very valuable treasures. So often Ben will be working on something and he will need a nut or bolt or some obscure tool and he will look through the hundreds of items Pepere gave him and sure enough he ends up finding what he needs.Pepere was a loving and devoted husband to my Memere. They were married in April of 1950 and they were so happy. Pepere loved Memere so much and it was evident in everything he did. She loved him equally. Their love was an example to me and something I kept in mind as I chose my own husband. Pepere was hard working, at times working two jobs so he could provide the best for Memere and his girls. Memere & Pepere were wonderful hosts and they loved to dance and sing. I remember so many family dinners that usually ended in us singing French drinking songs like “prend un vers de bier mon mineu” and “C’est etait un jeudi soir” around the dinner table. My younger sister, Chrissy, and I loved it when Memere let us set the table for a meal because it meant that we could give Pepere all the unusual dishes at his place setting. It might have been a big serving fork for his dinner fork or a small tea cup plate for his dinner plate. He would pretend to be so upset about this and we would laugh. He was such a good sport. There was no person and no thing that Pepere loved more than Memere. What I will remember most about Pepere as a husband was how he took such good care of Memere. He made the coffee every single day. To some that may seem like a small thing but I assure you to my Memere this is a huge thing and it must have been a pretty big gesture for me to observe it and understand it to be an act of love and devotion.He was then a father to three girls, who he adored and would do anything for. He was just so proud of the family he had built with Memere. My mom told me a story about how each Christmas Pepere would pretend to be Santa Claus and go up on the roof of their house and stomp on the roof above their bedrooms so they would think Santa had arrived. I don’t know too many other father’s who would do that! He was not only a wonderful father to his 3 daughters but he stepped up and played the role of father to his son-in-law, Dave. He loved Dave like his own son and they had such a fun relationship, the teasing never stopped between those two! Not too many people can say they were friends with their father-in-law, but Dave can, and it was a special friendship.He was also a grandfather. And he was the absolute best grandfather three girls could ever ask for. He loved us so much and spoiled us like crazy! As a child I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. When my mom was hit by a car and in the hospital for a very long time my younger sister and I went to live with Memere & Pepere for quite awhile. It was just after Halloween when we went to stay with them and I remember Pepere teasing us that he would eat our Halloween candy while we were at school. I would hide my orange plastic pumpkin filled with candy so he couldn’t find it. He would find it and hide it from me and just loved getting a reaction out of me. He never actually ate any of my candy but he sure had fun letting me believe he did! Pepere and I had a close relationship and we had a special countdown that started as early as I can remember. Pepere would say to me, “Millie, when you turn 14, I can retire”. And each time I would go visit, I would sit on his lap (it was, after all, the best seat in the house!) and he would say that to me every time. Eventually the time came that I turned 14 and he did retire and he was so happy for that day! He would also always sing to me the song, “You are my sunshine”. That song has held a special place in my heart all these years and it always reminds me of the love he had for me and my sisters. Being the tease that he was, he loved pretending to be upset with us girls for eating all his food, especially his cheerios! Pepere taught me how to dive off of the party barge at the lake. One of our favorite things to do in summers was to have Pepere take out the party barge with all of us on it and go out to Peppermint beach where it was deep enough to jump and dive off the float. As I got older and had a home of my own he enjoyed sharing his love of gardening with me, giving me tips on how I could make my own flower beds nicer. He was always so proud to take me to his flower gardens and show me all the work he had been doing. The flower that will always remind me of Pepere is the orange tiger lily, which used to surround the camp when I was little.Lastly, he was a great-grandfather to 8. And he loved those kids so much! I remember when the first great-grandchild, Andrew was born, how much both he and Memere adored him. I have one particular memory of when Andrew was little. It was a holiday I believe and Andrew was only about one or two. After dinner we were all sitting in the living room and Andrew was on the floor doing what one or two year old’s do…making noises, crawling around and maybe he even had a trick or two. Whatever it was that he was doing he had Memere and Pepere captivated. They loved every single thing he did and there was no child smarter in their eyes! Then my own seven children came along and they adored them just as much. They always took time to know my children. They asked them questions about their interests, school and friends. Pepere’s recent thing was to give my kids special coins when they came to visit. A couple of my kid’s special memories are playing the table top golf game he taught them and of course, drinking soda…because the only place they have ever been allowed to finish off a bottle of soda in one sitting is at Memere & Pepere’s!There is so much that can be said about this man who was a loving son, devoted husband, proud father and adoring grandfather, the brother & uncle, the athlete, the mill worker, the painter, the swimmer, the man who loved to shop and who loved his flower gardens…that time just won’t allow. For today though, hopefully you are left with a glimpse of the kind of man he was to all of us who loved him so much. He leaves a big hole in our hearts and we are so incredibly sad that we had to say goodbye to him in this tragic way. One thing we can be thankful for is that God allowed us to have this man on this earth for 88 years. Memere was allowed to be married to the love of her life for 66 years. Sharon, Joyce and Nancy were given over 60 years with their dad. Jenny, Chrissy and I were allowed to have Pepere for over 30 years and our children got to know their great-grandfather. While right now this seems of little consolation, it is so much more than many get in life. He lived a long, happy and healthy life and was able to enjoy so much of what this world had to offer.There is a verse in the Bible that I have chosen to meditate on since finding out of Pepere’s passing. It is found in Romans 8:And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.During difficult times like this it can be hard to believe that “all things work together for good”, and that God’s hand is in this because we are left with so many questions. Through my grief and through my pain I have to remind myself that the God who is the author and finisher of life never makes mistakes. He never moves without purpose or plan and because I love God and because I trust Him I am choosing to accept this plan God had for Pepere and I am trusting Him to comfort us and help us as we mourn the loss of this great man that we have loved so much.
have our own ways of dealing with our grief and it is not anyone's place to say that a person is grieving too little or too much, or that how they are grieving is wrong. I am praying that those in my grandmother's life, my mom and my aunt's lives and in me and my sister's lives, to have compassion and sensitivity as we grieve, in our own way and on our own timetable.
Thank you to each one of you who has extended sympathy, love and compassion during this time. It truly has been overwhelming and we are incredibly grateful. I am wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and safe Christmas!