Monday, January 7, 2013

Remembering Michael K. Gregory by John Gregory

With younger brother Terry

Senior in High School

John's Wedding Day

Matthew and James's Baby Blessings

With grandson James

With granddaughter Layla

Even in illness still playing ball with grandson William

 Grandchildren (7 of now 13) L to R:  Layla, Jacob, Ashur, James, Matthew, Annmarie, Alex

Clarissa's Baby Blessing


Michael K. Gregory, 63, died at his home on December 28, 2012, after a long fought battle with cancer. He was born on May 29, 1949 in Binger, OK to Arthur and Eva (Cannon) Gregory. He attended Newcastle High School and Central State University, earning a BS in Accounting. He went on to become a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner. He worked during his career as a manager for the IRS. He was a proud husband, father, grandfather, and brother. He will be greatly missed.

Michael is survived by his wife Carla Ann Gregory, his daughter, Leah Jeanne Gregory, his sons, Seth Michael Gregory, MD and wife Caroline, Jarom Arthur Gregory and wife Sophia, John Cannon Gregory and wife Jessica, and Timothy Chris Gregory and wife Catie; 13 grandchildren, and his younger brother, Terry Chris Gregory and wife Lydia.

A funeral service to remember Michael will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with burial to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

My Commemoration Shared at Dad's Funeral Service

The Telegraph, a newspaper in the UK, recently reported that a survey of children's typical lists for Santa Claus has shown many have more serious concerns than toys.  A study of 2,000 British parents found that despite generally material requests the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a "Dad".

I don't enjoy public speaking but I really wanted to let my kids, and my nieces and nephews know what Grandpa meant to me.  As I was preparing to express my appreciation for Dad, I started a list of fond memories of him or with him throughout my childhood and as an adult.  Honestly after a couple of pages, I decided I better keep it short and narrowed it down to a few of the more choice memories.  Of course in that list of memories are family vacations, like to Nauvoo when I was young, of which I wrote a book in elementary school, to cabins on lakes, or even Boy Scout camp activities but most of that list consisted of everyday or near everyday activities that made him my Dad.  That exercise of creating the list helped me better understand the survey results that I shared earlier.

I used to love waking up on Saturday mornings to the smell of a big breakfast, usually biscuits, eggs, and sausage, and Elvis blaring on the stereo.  Something was wrong as a kid if I didn’t get to start a Saturday off with a full belly and some good tunes.  Dad loved listening to Elvis.  He didn’t care if it was young Elvis or fat Elvis.  As a kid it seemed like Dad was either listening to Elvis on the stereo or watching Blue Hawaii or Jailhouse Rock.

I think food has meant a lot to me because those are some of my clearest childhood memories.  Not just Dad on Saturday mornings but also on regular days making breakfast.  As long as I can remember, Dad was an early riser and hard worker.  He would get up and be at work by 6:30 if not earlier.  Well occasionally he would make breakfast for us before going to work as well.  Yes it was typically an early breakfast but it was a good, hot breakfast.  Also it usually needed to be early because his kids would have early morning seminary to attend.  I remember one morning Seth ate 40 pancakes!  I’m not trying to encourage binge eating or just plain overeating but, at the time, I thought Seth was awesome.  I still think Seth is awesome but now as a father I appreciate more that Dad was there, or took the time, to make breakfast for his kids.  I typically rush out the door for work.

I also enjoyed our family home evening activities and scripture study.  Some of the family home evening activities that I enjoyed most were sports-related.  As a family, we would go to the park and play softball.  Dad could hit the ball for a mile.  That was a situation where I thought my Dad was awesome!  Even to this day, I don’t know how he could hit the ball so far.  He was quite the ball player.

 In addition to softball, I enjoyed playing pool volleyball, basketball in our driveway, and a gospel-oriented quiz game called Zion.  Of course a big part of our family home evenings was gospel study.  We actually did a good job of family scripture study and prayer.  I clearly remember sitting with Mom taking turns reading scriptures with my family.  The reason I would sit with Mom is because I didn’t know all the words and she would coach me through the verses.  Tim took that position when he was learning to read as well.  I’m sure it was painful for Seth and Jay and Leah to wait on their little brothers to read – it got a little painful for me waiting on Tim.  During our study, Dad would give us the inside scoop on the scriptures by reading to the rest of us out of his Gospel Commentary book.

As I mentioned many of the most endearing memories of Dad involved everyday activities that I probably didn’t appreciate as a kid or even as a young adult but have begun to appreciate them as a father.  More of those activities worth mentioning are having consistent family meals; seeing Dad’s support at little league football, soccer, and baseball games and on into junior high and high school football; camping both as a family and also during father and son campouts and enjoying his dutch oven cooking – I loved his Guadalupe chili; spending time at the cabin at the lake either boating or playing board games; playing Mario Bros with my dad as a little kid and knowing that was definitely one thing that I was better at; and one-on-one racquetball matches with my dad as a teenager.  He was quite an athlete – even when I was a young and fit high school athlete, we would trade victories.

Well I have touched briefly on the everyday moments but I don’t want to leave out some of the bigger memories either.  One fond memory was watching Dad compete in the Camp Cherokee Rodeo when I was about 13 or 14.  The leaders were asked to compete in the pig in a blanket relay race.  It was fun to watch him laughing uncontrollably as he was passing back and forth a squealing piglet in a blanket.  I got to see Dad’s competitive as well as fun-loving side that day.  Another fun experience I had with Dad was the opportunity to go to Nauvoo with just him and Mom.  We went the summer of 2000 just prior to my leaving on a mission.  It was a fun experience to have both Dad and Mom’s full and undivided attention.  I got to attend the Nauvoo temple, prepare for my mission, and grow closer to him in the process.  As an adult I have enjoyed the opportunity to have Dad and Mom visit me in my home, both in Salt Lake and Houston, and have a little feeling of life as a child brought into my home.

One of the more clear experiences in which I really appreciated Dad was the opportunity to be involved in the road-trip to take Seth to BYU for his freshman year of college.  In 1993 Dad, Seth, Tim, and I set off to drive about 20 hours to BYU in a little, bitty Toyota Corolla.  It was quite the adventure!  We slept on the side of the road on our way, slept in motels in Provo, ate Burger King Whoppers, hiked to the Y on the side of the mountain in Provo, and just had an all-around good time.  Other than it being an adventure for a 12-year-old, I also remember Dad’s emotions in leaving Seth, his oldest, at school for the first time.  Dad really loved his children.

As much as all the fond memories I have of Dad, I appreciate his leading by example in making ethical and moral choices over his lifetime.  As I mentioned, Dad was very hard-working.  He also had a great love for the gospel and his Savior.  I know that he reveled in the opportunity he had to bring so many to Christ.  That includes his family and through his family to others around the world.  I often ask myself if I was not born into the covenant (church) would I have found the gospel.  I’m not sure I have the spiritual sensitivity to accept the gospel as an investigator as he did and am grateful to him for doing so.  Of course I have spoken almost entirely of Dad but I would be remiss not to mention Mom.  Dad really did have a strong moral and spiritual compass and that compass was heavily influenced by Mom.  I want to thank Mom for all she has done to participate and encourage all these great memories.  Also I want to thank Mom for her patience and strength through recent difficult times.  I also want to thank my brothers, Seth and Tim especially, for being there for Dad as well.  They have provided me comfort in that I haven’t had to worry as much about Dad with them around.  Finally I just want to state that Mom was number 1 for Dad – that was clear.  

Well even though I am feeling selfish and wanted Dad around forever I am certain that Dad is in a much better place.  I’m sure that I cannot even comprehend Dad’s recent physical and emotional anguish.  I know that he is with his Savior in heaven and I look forward to seeing him again someday.


Heather said...

What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry your family has lost a father and grandpa so early, though glad his suffering is past. Thanks for sharing, John. Your dad must have been a great man because he raised a great son.

PS it is obvious who James takes after!

Isaac Family said...

What a tribute! LOVED reading this. Thanks for sharing. Sorry for your loss- it sounds as though he was an amazing man...

ColleenDown said...

The Gregory family genes must be "super-genes." That is rather amazing! This is such a wonderful memorial to your Dad. I am so glad I got to know him. My nicest memory is sitting by the pool visiting with him while everyone was swimming. He shared some deep feeling about how important his daughter and the twins were--I saw a gentle side and felt like our parent hearts met for a few moments. So who would have thought....Elvis!!

Laura Sellars said...

Thank you for sharing your memories and thoughts. It was so touching and I felt like I was able to get to know your dad a little after reading it. You have been in my thoughts and prayers. No wonder you are such a great dad...because you followed a wonderful example.

Laura Sellars said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay said...

What beautiful memories of your dad, John. It sounds like he was an amazing man who taught you well and will be greatly missed by many. It's so inspiring to read about the lives of wonderful people. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

You did a wonderful job at the service, and I know it was hard. Proud of you and your beautiful family. Love, Aunt Claudia

Kimme Rae said...

What beautiful words. I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't believe how much James looks like his Grandpa, his legacy will definitely live on through his posterity.

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