My father deserved better. Not to say he was not loved deeply, unconditionally, and exquisitely by his wife, his family, and his Lord and Savior, but this earth is a harsh and haggard place for black boys and black men and my father had dreams of a better world than this one—for himself and his loved ones and for all of humanity. I know that better world has finally been provided to him—a world without suffering. A world of eternal peace. A man as great as David Eaton deserves no less.
But we who remain on this earth are now without the peace that he afforded us. My father was such a quiet man. A man of few words. Of stillness. But the best thing about my father was that sitting in silence with him was never uncomfortable. It was extraordinarily peaceful to be enveloped in his grace. My father had the skill to put people at ease, likely because he was so forgiving and so accepting of others as they were. Flawed but genuine. David Eaton did not hold a man’s mistakes against him. Instead he always chose to encourage without belittlement or shame. My father was the type of man who made you want to do better and achieve more simply because he believed in you. The strength of his conviction was that powerful.
What is there to say about my father? He was extraordinarily bright. My father loved machines —cars in particular—and it seemed like he could fix anything if you gave him enough time to observe the problem. He was gifted when it came to repairing and healing—things and people.
Even though my father retired at 62, he never stopped “working.” He might not have punched a time clock, but before cancer consumed him he would rise early in the morning and start his routine. He would start by making breakfast for himself and my mother—eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, and hot coffee—and would set aside a plate for Mom to have when she woke up an hour or two later. And then he would sit in his favorite easy chair and eat. And after a few moments of reflection, he would go outside and work until late afternoon. He would either tinker with his automobiles, or tend to the lawn, or fix any item that had broken the day before. There was always something that could use fixing or improving according to my father. He was not happy unless he was productive and showed his love often not through words, but through his actions. You knew he loved you because he provided for you. You knew he loved you because he built things for you.
My father was not flashy. My goodness, he would wear worn jeans and threadbare flannels and work boots nearly every day. He believed a man’s worth was not carried on his back or in his wallet but found in what he could produce with his hands. His labor.
My father was a hard-working man.
My father was not prone to anger. I don’t think I’d ever heard my father truly raise his voice. And I’d never seen him raise his hand. And though he looked so much like my grandfather, my father carried my grandmother’s mannerisms. He exhibited her kindness, her gentleness, and her extreme loyalty. I love him still and he was a gift from God to me and to the Eaton family.