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LOU COLLINS EULOGY

4/23/37 - 4/25/13  Written and Given by Anne Collins
 
If you’d like to know about Lou’s education, family or when he was in the Marines, get with me later.  Today, I want to tell you about the man. What was Lou really about? There are things he might want you to think about.  Some you might even emulate in your own life.
 
I had literally a lifetime of being loved.
I was truly adored, uplifted and spoiled…  And I spoiled him right back.
 
My personal alarm clock each morning was a “Time to Rise and Shine, Hon” with a kiss to wake me..
Our daily goodbye began with his prayer over me for the day
Then a kiss, hug and “I love you, Babe”
 
In 47 years, there was never a phone call that didn’t end with
“I love you” …Who knew what might happen before we were together again?
 
Lou’s prayer over me for the day started in the 1980’s.  It was the result of an encounter with a bum on a Sunday afternoon. He came to the door for a drink of water. He ended up giving Lou that counsel to always send me out with prayer.  This one thing changed our relationship into something deeper and more precious than it probably was before that. 
 
Lou loved the outdoors, starting out in the woods of Michigan as a boy.  There he could scream as loud as he had to over his life as a little boy and there he could find great quiet and peace.  He chose outdoor work his whole life over higher paying jobs. Four walls strangled his free spirit.  He took pleasure in planning Saturday jaunts for April and I every possible weekend in the early years.  The northern coast, the mountains, Yosemite, the desert, Mammoth Lake trails, the Kern River, San Diego, everywhere!  All we needed was a tank of gas and a picnic. The fare was always Wonder bread, bologna, chips and chocolate milk, spread out on a blanket.
 
Lou loved photography. He always wanted to attend Brooks but had to settle for Long Beach City College.  He had a studio for many years and was known especially for beautiful weddings.  Lou believed that pictures, just like life, were worthless unless they provoked emotion.  He only kept the shots that met that personal goal.
 
Lou took care of all the affairs of the house for the last 11 years since he retired, including meals.  He planned ahead with the military efficiency of the Marine he was. Then he made it all look easy by just lounging in the lawn chair out front with the dogs.  They all watched me get out of the car at lunch & after work.   The dogs watched his face for a nod, then raced out to greet me.  He just waited in the chair grinning til I reached him and kissed him.
How I shall hate coming home to that empty chair.
 
Saturdays were workdays, but then came Sundays…
Breakfast was at Snooty Fox.  Lou always saved part of his bacon for the dogs waiting in the car. I had to feed it to them because I made it last longer with tiny bites.  Then it was worship at the Village Church with Pastor Mike. If we got hungry again we went to Nordstrom’s Café for lunch. Then we went on to Starbucks for coffee and to spend a few hours at Dana Point. We watched the waves from our bench at the cove. Strangers always wanted to chat about the dogs.  Then we walked them around the outer harbor.  Even on Super Bowl Sunday, Lou announced he would rather be at Dana with me than watch the game.  I thought this was huge for a sports lover like him. 
 
Lou’s final birthday was last Tuesday, the 23rd.  Though he was in a medical coma at home, Angela, who had been spending constant time helping with Lou, helped me do the whole Dana Point routine in the morning in his honor.  Bella knew right where we were. She nuzzled our necks and thanked each of us profusely for being there.  Then she sat between us on the bench and watched the waves for about an hour without moving.  Later that evening April, Bud, Jessica, Joey, Alex, Seantae, Elisabeth, Cheri and Hailee came and partied around Lou’s bed.  Seantae read part of Matthew 10 to him in his ear.  We sang happy birthday and Elisabeth blew out the candle.
 
Lou’s love for animals goes way back to his childhood.  A lot of the people who mattered to him most when he was a vulnerable little boy and had no say in matters, let him down a lot, unfortunately.  I have to say his teen years were better, spent in an idyllic small town structured setting with his aunt, uncle and baby cousin. He often said: “Animals never let you down and are always there for you”.  Pet lovers everywhere know exactly what I mean.  We had many pets over the years.  Presently, Molly is my dog. Bella is Lou’s dog. Bella was amazing and the greatest joy imaginable of any pet he ever owned.  If it is possible to say, Bella is a thinker and the type of dog that looks you straight in the eye to see what needs to happen next.  She watched over Lou fiercely as did Molly.  Sandee, our old cat, became the ever watchful nurse and never left his side once he was bedridden.
 
Lou was very generous with anything he had, and somewhat of a spendthrift.  He bored easily with situations and surroundings.  He changed the living room around about once a month.  At least a dozen or so times a year, he would marvel and say something like:  I’ve always gotten bored so easily, but it amazes me that in all these years, I have never been bored with you for a moment…  Now that was a compliment!  He had many others for me all the time, but that one always floored me.
 
I think if there was one thing Lou would want me to impart, it is the importance of making rituals and keeping them. 
*Spend time with the ones you love. 
*Don’t take them for granted or think there will be time later. 
*Make the moments count. 
*Take action,
*Talk together,
*Be vulnerable,
*Say and do the loving thing. 
*Have sacred times together. 
*Say “I love you” a lot.
 
You know, we all have moments in time.  They come for a fleeting instant and then they are gone.  We cannot get them back.  We must do the right thing at that moment.  If someone needs a hug, a prayer or your love or just your time and presence, give it freely, expecting nothing back.  There will be no regrets later…  That’s what Lou would tell you if he could.
 
Lou had a very strong, developed sense of right and wrong.  He got involved and got angry when something was not right.  He often got in trouble in traffic getting involved righting a wrong.  He had no patience for phony people or people who didn’t think for themselves or stand for something.  He didn’t care if you were different, just so long as you were real and not shallow. 
 
His personal friends and favorite people to hang out with were thinkers and those who were not afraid to examine the tougher issues.  He was extremely patriotic and stood for a high moral ground.  He loved talking long with me, April and family and close friends, but preferred to discuss things that mattered.
 
His personal faith was strong.  He believed that Jesus Christ is the way to heaven and that a lived out commitment makes for a better life here and assurance of being more ready for the here-after.  It was his desire that his own quiet courage to stand for what was right would be carried on by his daughter and grandkids. He prayed that each one would be strong in their faith and be one day re-united with him around the throne of God.  He hated secrets among the family and desired straightforwardness and honesty to rule every situation.  He desired that we remain close and keep traditions.  He desired that we stick together, settle differences quickly and hold each other accountable.
 
On another side, Lou was a practical joker. He loved to pull people’s chains and stir up their emotions.  His sense of humor was tough to read.  You didn’t know if he was serious or not and he loved that.  He even fooled me a lot.  He didn’t mind looking the fool or being the clown to bring humor or a light touch to a situation or gathering. 
 
I can think of so many times where he had the great idea or plan, got someone else to buy into it and run with it and let them get all the credit.  His satisfaction came in the fact that it came to fruition.  He said he had no desire to lead, but would never be a follower.  I think he did lead, but by his quiet methods.
 
Lou often used radical statements in an effort to make people think.  He looked at it like this:  Thinking could be the first step to change and if he cared for you as a friend he often would step out on a limb just to make you think.
 
Lou liked to dress.  He had a great way of adding a hat or a jacket and ending up looking very casual, very cotton and yet very sharp.   He was one of the few men I knew who could wear bright, flamboyant colors and still be a man’s man all the way. 
 
Lou loved music, all kinds of music.  We had so many songs that were “our songs”.  When we met, it was “I Got You, Babe” later “All I Need is the Air that I Breathe and to Love You”  and many, many more followed. 
 
In 1997, my siblings met for their first time all together in one place in 40 years. We were at condos in Lake Tahoe for a few days.  It was the last morning. Everyone was dragging suitcases and coolers to their cars.  Always planning the emotional moment, Lou was strategically in the middle of the parking lot under the tall trees with the car stereo blasting:  “Time to Say Goodbye” with Bocelli and Brightman sending us on our separate ways.
 
Last year, setting up for a sale, Lou pulled April into his arms and danced with her to “I’ll Be Seeing You”.  Later she looked up the words and there was her name “April Dawn” in the song just as he had named her over 40 years ago.  It was meant to be, a memory for her and me as I watched them with love, dancing and crying in each other’s arms. 
 
That moon mentioned in the song, for us, is the crescent moon.  I always called it the sliver moon.  Lou always called it Annie’s Moon and watched for it every month of our life.  No matter what I was doing in the house, Lou would find me and say, “Got a Minute?”  I knew what that meant and would stop what I was doing and take his hand. We would walk out front and I would watch that moon between the trees in his arms in the dark for a few minutes and life stopped.  And it was good.
 
Lou’s last months involved some intense suffering.  Either April or I was at his side constantly.  At first he truly did not have a peace, did not want to go and could not sense God’s presence at all, though he prayed hard for it.  It was a time of confusion, operating totally on faith with no gift of feeling God at all.  A little over a month ago, he had an urgent doctor’s visit about his pain levels.  While there, he prayed for God’s help and he finally received that amazing peace that passes understanding. We believe it remained with him from then until the end. 
As long as there was a breath and strength to pray, we had our devotions and his prayer always ended something like this: 
“Please use my suffering to draw my whole family and whoever else knows about this closer to you.”
I have to believe that all who listen to this deeper story of Lou cannot help but have that happen.  It is my desire that this service will do just that for you today.  When you hear the final song today, remember it.  It is Lou’s and my testimony concerning what we have been through.
 
Well, this has been a tiny window through which we hope you have seen the husband, daddy, and Papa Louie we all knew, loved deeply and shall forever miss.
 
I Love You, Babe, forever!
Copyright © 2014 O'Connor Mortuary, All rights reserved.


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