My brother Matt gave a wonderful talk at my dad's funeral, we'd love for you to read it:
“I Had a Cool Dad”
When I was a bit younger; about the age of my oldest son Jensen who turned fifteen just last week, I began to explore beyond my just my neighborhood and classmates. When I met a new family, I identified myself through my parents, Geoff and Jill.
“Oh, I know your Dad,” people would say, “he’s so funny.” Anyone who had ever met Dad extended to me trust and affection equal to the friendship he had shown them. Even the grocery store clerk at King Soopers on Dry Creek road recognized me or Rich and Dan or Heather as Geoff’s child – or the big funny man with the English accent. Dad recognized them too and after returning to Littleton after a two-or-three-day business trip, Dad would make a quick stop and pick up a couple of things.
“How are you Deborah? How are your kids Ronnie?” Dad knew them by name and sought out the one that might need a few extra dollars this time of year, or the one who might be going through a tough time and needed someone to lift their spirits.
Being Geoff Lightens son put me on good terms with just about everyone who ever met him. Of course, there were some exceptions. Some few who did not feel a sense of love and affection from Dad, but lucky for me, I never met a referee who had made a bad call against the BYU cougars.
Mom and Dad signed us up in little league soccer and baseball and we spent the best parts of the year in Colorado playing on green fields, making new friends. I was enrolled in boy scouts and active in our church.
“You have the coolest Dad,” my friends would say.
And I did have a cool Dad. When I was just a little boy, my Dad and I and these other two little dudes that had the same face and wore the same pajamas would play soccer in the backyard. Dad had just finished mowing the lawn while Mom was making dinner. We made goal posts of Tonka toys and little plastic tools from the sandbox. Dad and I were on the same team, and as far as I was concerned the game was pretty one dimensional. All I had to do was score against the twins because I had the best goalie.
“You have to kick it over me.” He said to Rich and Dan as he lied down between the posts. “I’ll just raise my leg and my arm, and if you can get it past me, you get a point.”
Of course, I didn’t know Dad when he was a boy, but sometimes I felt like I did. He told the best stories. When he was a teenager in England, Geoffrey delivered groceries with his bicycle to raise money to finance his trip to America. He had a regular customer; an elderly man who needed the same groceries every week.
“When I got to his house,” Dad told me, “I balanced my bicycle and the basket full of groceries against his home. While I was waiting for him to come to the door, the bicycle slipped and the groceries spilled to ground. The eggs broke and the bread was torn”
Dad thought about what to do. He could tell the manager or he could tell his customer who was coming to the door.
“There were some boys,” Dad said. “They were chasing me. They threatened to beat me up if I didn’t give them your groceries.”
“Oh Geoff,” he said, “you poor boy.” Dad brought him the groceries and stood on the porch while she put them away. He was relieved to have the situation resolved and anxious to be on his way.
“It’s terrible,” she said as she gathered some money. “ . . . terrible what those boys did to you.”
Dad, who had been staring at some wall art and daydreaming looked at him and said,
I had a cool Dad. I loved him and he loved me and my Mom and my brothers and sisters.
This past Sunday at 12:30 AM I received a call from my brother Rich. After days and weeks of bad news and only brief moments of hope; Rich said it was time for everyone come to Salt Lake Regional Hospital. I left Boise immediately and I was in Salt Lake by 7:30. Every one of my brothers and sisters were there, and Mom was at Dad’s side. During the time I drove, it was determined that the time to disconnect the machinery that had retained Dads life. The doctors and nurses in the hospital waited three more hours so that I could see him one last time. And maybe Dad waited for me too.
Dad touched many lives. By the end of the day, Mom and the rest of the family had heard from people as far away as Australia. Mom and Dad’s neighbors across the street where Mom lives now are Jason and Pam. Pam was one of the first people to extend her condolences. “He was like a second father to me.” Pam said.
Dad was like a father to a lot of people. In fact, one of the last times when I saw Dad when he was healthy was over Labor Day weekend this past September. I said, “Dad, you’ve been like a father to me.” To which he replied, “Matt, you were like the son I never had.”
Geoff was a grandfather to 35 grandchildren. He was “Bishop” to hundreds of students at BYU and he was “like a father,” to many young people who were in Utah as students; away from home for the first time. He was a father to many people, but he will always be Dad to me.