Presented at Brian Baker’s Celebration of Life - March 8, 2019
Hello, I'm Candice - Brian's daughter. I have wracked my head, for two months, trying to imagine what I would say to you all today. You all know my father's laugh, you have your own funny stories, you all know his heart - but, not many of you know the heart that he had for himself.
Mine and my father’s favorite musical was Fiddler on the Roof. While everyone has their own interpretations of what the story means to them - my later years were spent seeing Tevye, a father, watching his multiple daughter’s slowly chip away at the tradition of his cultural, political, and religious foundations that his children were born into. They had their ways of doing things, and it worked.
You see, I truly believe that you can take the Jew out of the religion, but you cannot take the Jew out of the tradition. And the tradition is the part that he loves the most.
So as my father walked away from the Jewish faith to the arms of Jesus Christ, leaving his family in California to create his own truth - I left the traditions and dogma of the Christian faith.
Suddenly, our relationship was perpetually Hodel and Tevye, at the train depot, asking her “what will you do?...only for me to tell him that I want to go. I wanted to create my new life and find my own truth.
Dad had no idea during these years that God and I had an intimate relationship - the one that you don’t speak of and you just follow whatever love presents and the gut convictions that halt your steps. While I would not share with him the on goings of my faith, he would continue to share with me his truth - sending me voice recordings of him reading scripture and devotionals. 9 times out of 10, it brought me great fear. So, I would delete them from my inbox. However, in accordance to gut convictions - there was one single recording that after listening to and going to delete... I heard a calm still voice that said, “keep that”.
When I arrived in California, last week, I was told that the hospice had asked if my father would like a pastor to be with him in the times of his passing. The person who was asked that question said no. And in my mind...that was the perfect decision. He was the minister of his own life.
On March 1st, I was awoken at 5 am, being told that this was it. I walked right into the room, looked at my father, and I don’t know if it was my audible voice or my spirit talking to him, but I said “alright Dad. let’s do this”.
In the room was my aunt, the nurse, my father, myself, and I was stripped naked of all religious protections that I had put on myself in attempting to keep my faith intimate and personal. This was the time to show my father that we have always believed in the same God. The God of love. All of his scriptures, songs, and words from my childhood flooded my mind, and I pulled each one out. When one tool was used, another came out of the box. Over and over again, I pulled. But what I was not able to bring was my father’s perfectly crafted words. The words that I know he would be speaking over my life, and into my passing. The words I knew would bring him the most comfort of all.
And as we sat there together, I remembered the recording from that calm still whisper.
While I would have loved to keep this recording for myself, tucked in the most precious parts of my soul for the moments that we spent together on March 1st - my father was a man of transparency. So in the spirit of my father today, I hope this recording, in his own words, brings you the peace that it brought him…as healthy Brian ushered his own mind and body to Jesus' arms.