Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Had A Cool Dad

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,
 “What boys?”

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.        

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Dad

My Dad

My name is Trevor Lighten, I am Geoff’s favorite son – my siblings may try to deny that but I know it is true.  I have four children and a lovely supportive wife.

One thing constantly comes to mind when thinking about my dad over the last few days – my Dad left a wonderful impact on the world.  Sometimes that impact was small and other times it was enormous.  He positively influenced others in his role as a son, brother, uncle, grandfather, bishop, teacher, missionary, friend, father and husband, he was fiercely devoted to my mother and his children.  He knew how to relate to others regardless of their position in society.  He had genuine love for others and in turn they loved him.  Several of the medical staff who worked with him over the last few weeks commented to us how much they loved my dad.

In my case, his impact was enormous.  So much of who I am and where I am in life is a direct result of the love that he had for me.  No one has influenced me more than my dad.  He never gave up on me; he always encouraged me and built my confidence.  He showed me a good example and taught me throughout my life.  One small example of this is how I remember is that sometimes he would open the door for my mom and other times he would have me get the door for her or my sisters. 

He did things that made me feel loved.  He played basketball games with me and my brothers until the neighbors would complain that we were playing too late.  He would play one on one basketball with me until I was old enough to beat him – and then it was over.  He loved to play games and rough house with us kids. 
We used to wrestle a lot and as I got older I could take him down pretty easily.  However, when one time when I was about 17 or 18 he got me into an awkward hold that had me crying uncle – he held on to that glorious moment for the rest of his life.  Every now and then, including when he was on his hospital bed, he would remind me and others about that time he had me begging for mercy.

One of my favorite experiences with my dad was when he first took me to a Denver Broncos game.  My entire life we had never gone to a game because they were too expensive and they normally played on Sundays.  I never thought about going to games but I loved watching them with my dad and brothers.  When I was 13 the broncos were in the playoffs and the game was on a Saturday.  I remember waking up that day looking forward to watching the game on tv.  I went down stairs and laid down on the couch when my dad threw a bag of peanuts in my lap.  I looked at him and he flashed two broncos tickets in his hand.  We sat in the tip top corner of mile high stadium and watched a game that was so good they made documentaries about it.  It was this and many other experiences with my dad that made me feel special and loved. 

My dad had a legendary sense of humor that has and will be well documented today.  He had a quick wit and was always good for a one liner.  Several people said that he looked like Elder Richard G Scott and two woman joking at his office recently said “Elder Scott, what is your next talk going to be about”, my dad replied “revenge”.   He also claimed to know who the three Nephites are, although it was a revolving list.  Rush Limbaugh was always on the list.   Mike Shannahan, coach of the Denver Broncos, was on the list for a time.  No BYU coach ever attained enough success to be on the list.

My father loved the Lord Jesus Christ.  He was very introspective and took his salvation seriously.  He often asked questions of us he had about something he read in the scriptures or book or talk that day.  He would bring those up and it would lead to a gospel discussion.  He said that if he were going to die he felt at peace with how he lived his life. 

I will miss my dad, he is my best friend.  I wish that he were going to be around to influence my children.  But the character he instilled in me will influence my children, and my children’s children.    His influence will bless the world forever. 

My dad did not pass how we thought he would or when he thought we would.  This week has been a week of mourning for those who love him.  I have thought over the years what would happen if I lost those who are so close to me like my mom or my dad or my wife.  I am struggling and a little confused about this.  However the clarity is coming and I do believe in the plan of salvation.

On Sunday evening I took some time to pray and reflect and seek comfort, one scripture came to mind Mosiah 16:7-9

7 And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.

8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.

I can say that amid the mourning and sadness I have had in the last few days that I have also had beautiful moments of peace, I have felt a little of what Abinidi meant when he said “the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ”.  I know that peace comes from the Holy Ghost and a Father in heaven who loves me. 
I was blessed with one of the best fathers to walk this earth.  I am forever grateful that he was and is my dad.  As a result of Geoff accepting the gospel 52 years ago I have knowledge of a Father in Heaven who loves me, I know that I will see my dad again.  I am truly proud to be a son of my Father in Heaven and I am proud to be a son of Geoffrey Richard Lighten.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eulogy and Program

I wanted to share the program and eulogy for my dad for those of you who weren't there or who wanted to see it again. The funeral was beautiful and heartbreaking. We are so grateful to those who were able to attend. The eulogy was given by his daughters, Heather and Megan (me). Below you'll see how we split it when we spoke. After the eulogy is his program. Thanks for taking the time to read more about the man we care so deeply about.

Heather: Our brothers and husbands are holding their breath right now, rightfully so, expecting us to break into uncontrollable sobs.  That’s why there’s two of us up here.  We are going to do our best to keep it together for our Dad.

Heather: Geoff Lighten was born in Chelmsford England June 2, 1946 to Nell and Dick Lighten. He grew up in Grays England with his older brother Rob, younger sister Margie and baby brother Andy. He attended Palmer’s endowed school for boys and raced pigeons with all his elderly neighbors.

Heather: Grandpa Lighten was just like our dad...the kind that all your friends wished was theirs.  When Dick Lighten came home all the kids in the neighborhood would come over to play cricket.  Geoff’s parents were very kind and loving, he had a storybook childhood.

Megan: At the age of 15 he became interested in religion when Jehovahs witnesses came to the door. Mormon missionaries came soon after and he investigated both. He said on Wednesday’s he was a jehovah’s witness and on Friday’s he was a mormon . He was later baptized with his younger brother Andy.

Megan: Elder Shumway, a missionary serving in dad’s area, casually mentioned to our dad that he could come live with his family in the states.  From that moment our dad began to save his money.  He said he was tempted twice to withdraw his savings, once for a dog the other for a motorbike.  Having saved enough money at 17, Geoff traveled to the US and lived with the Shumways in American Fork, Utah.  He later said that he was probably invited for only a few weeks, but ended up staying  a few years, before and after his 30 month mission to France.  We are so grateful to our Grandma Shumway, as she became known and who is here today and that she took our Daddy in.  You may notice on the cover of the program a handwritten scripture John 14:27 “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Grandpa Dick Lighten gave this to our dad as he boarded a huge ship to travel to the states when he was just 17 years old.  This note has been laminated and on display in our dad’s office.

Heather: Geoff attended and graduated from BYU with a BA degree in communications, there he met and married Jill Bullock his eternal sweetheart on August 22, 1969. He worked at Johnson and Johnson for thirty years and in these past few years he’s worked in real estate.  He loved the group of people he worked with.

Heather: Geoff and Jill lived in many places together, but the majority of their time spent in Colorado, California and Utah. They had seven children, who we will introduce with one of many songs arranged by our father. “We are the Lighten’s we have lots of fun, we are the daughters, we are the sons.  Amy Rich and Dan are the oldest ones. Matt Heather and Trevor come next. Then comes our Megan dear.  She is a bum.  She is the smallest one”  We are like our dad.  Our lack of musical talent does not stop us from sharing.  Dad was a proud grandfather to 35.  14 grandsons and 21 granddaughters.

Megan: Dad served in the church throughout his life.  He had many callings but among his favorite were Gospel Doctrine teacher and Bishop. He loved the gospel and had a strong testimony that he wouldn’t hesitate to share.  All four of his sons served a mission and his second oldest grandchild is currently serving in Georgia.

Megan: We were our dad’s number one priority.  I think he looked forward to playing with us as much as we looked forward to playing with him.  He was never too busy to listen to us or too tired to play a game of deck soccer.  We all have many memories of little games he made up, most of which included a wager of some sort.

Heather: Our dad loved to embarrass us. He would drop us off at highschool, wait for us to get about 15 feet from the car, then he would start honking the horn, calling our names, and yelling “Heather, Matt, Trevor, I LOVE YOU” as loud as he could. We would stand together united, and pretend he was somebody else’s dad.

Heather: One winter night Matt and I and our dates were having a romantic dinner for a school dance. Our mom had decorated it lovely, the christmas lights were the only lights in the room, she made a beautiful dinner and dad was on the deck grilling steaks. Out of nowhere, in the darkness of the night, through the window we saw my Dad, shirtless, in the snow, staring in at us with a blank look on his face for several minutes, purely for the sake of embarassing us on our dates. Well played dad.

Megan: In these last few years some people have thought he looked like Elder Scott, even confusing the two.  Recently someone teased him and asked, “What will your next conference talk be about?” His response? Revenge.

Megan: My dad told me many times that when I was first born I had a look on my face, almost like a look of shock.  He teased that I was thinking “Oh no, I got this guy as my dad??”  But I know as a tiny baby I just realized I was the luckiest girl in the world.  From his example of a father and husband we had the highest expectations for our own.

Megan: These last five weeks of his life have passed very quickly.  Two months ago he was healthy and walking around New York City, 8 miles a day.  In November our mom noticed he was starting to turn yellow.  He received a cat scan which revealed a mass on his pancreas.  We were told that it was pancreatic cancer and the best chance for a few more years was to remove the tumor.  He had a whipple procedure on Friday December 13th.  Many complications followed this surgery including blood clots and internal bleeding.  Throughout that next week we had a lot of reasons to hope.  Friday Dec 20 and Sat Dec 21 things got very scary.  They were unable to stop his bleeding and he underwent 4 surgeries in two days.  Late Saturday night we knew there was a good chance we could lose him.  My mother and all of his children were with my dad in his final hours.  That room early Sunday morning was filled with immense grief and sorrow.  But it was also filled with immeasurable adoration and love for our dad.  There is no doubt of his love for any of us, nor doubt in our love for him.

Heather:Five weeks was not enough, and we’ll admit we have felt it unfair and that we were cheated.  But the grief and sadness that have been felt is a testament of our father’s legacy and love for him.  Our brother Dan said perfectly that day, we lost our favorite person.  I cling to the knowledge that we will see him again and get that big bear hug we already miss.

The funeral was designed by our very talented cousin, Hayley Castle. 
This is the cover and back

I have a lot I want to share about my dad which I'll be doing here. Love him and miss him everyday.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Funeral

We honored the life of Geoff Lighten on Friday, December 27th.  Here are some photos of the event.  Gone too soon and we can't wait to see you again.  Love you Dad!

Geoff's Children and Wife Jill Together

Geoff's Children and Sons and Daughters in law leaving flowers on his casket

Son Dan dedicated the grave