This week, I read the following words out loud in front of the people who knew my father. He had been treating the symptoms of lymphoma without knowing what it was, and by the time everyone realized what was happening, he was gone.
My Father, Gary Mackrill
My father was one of a kind to anyone who knew him.
The son of two of the Greatest Generation – his dad from Brewster, Nebraska, who grew up hunting pheasants for food and living in sod houses. His mother grew up in Cumberland, Maryland, the proud daughter of an entrepreneur – the town’s grocer.
My dad was a great blend of both of them. Hearty and loving the wilds of the country while also passionate about running a meaningful business.
He grew up in Northern Virginia, just outside of DC. The area’s density could not contain him, and he was drawn to be near his family out west, where he attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
It’s during this time, as a business major, that he turned into a Billy Graham special on TV and decided to trust in Christ. He wanted to be restored to God when his life was over and believed that Christ was the only way to do that.
He’s there now, and while we are comforted by this, it didn’t just impact where he spends eternity.
That moment in his life sent him to a Bible study where he met Linda Dawe in Burwell, Nebraska, whom he married in 1980.
Bees were a huge part of my dad’s life.
The job of a beekeeper isn’t easy. It’s not for everyone, but for those who make a life of it, they struggle to see a life apart from it.
Depending on who you ask, beekeeping has been around for 5,000 or 15,000 years.
For my dad, it was his whole adolescent and adult life – caring for, troubleshooting, and working through the challenges of an ancient insect that needs just the correct elements to produce one of the most unique and delicious food products in the world.
As kids, we were all part of his business. It’s here we watched him continuously experiment, problem-solve, and roll up his sleeves to make it work.
January 7, 1954 – September 13, 2023
In the middle of our lives, we always had honey bees.
My dad started with bee hives as a Cub Scout, and honey bees carried him and our family through our lives.
Alongside my dad, and all of his ambition, was my mom who anchored all of us and helped him achieve success. He could not have done any of this without her.
My dad loved to collect lots of things and always had an idea about how to improve whatever was in front of him. He collected dogs from alongside the highway and from people who didn’t love them.
He collected fishing gear to take with him on the water.
He collected guns. So many guns. If there was a gun show near us, he wanted to go check it out.
He collected stories. Stories from each day – what happened, what he’d read, what he heard on talk radio, what he thought about it all.
My dad loved to segue all of his collections of thoughts with the word “anyway.”
It was such a part of how he talked that I was always catching myself when I would use it – hearing his voice in my own.
It turns out the word, anyway is pretty versatile:
1. used to confirm or support a point or idea just mentioned. “I told you, it’s all right, and anyway, it was my fault”
2. used to end a conversation, to change the subject, or to resume a subject after interruption. “Anyway, Dot, I must go”
I hope you will collect this memory today of this moment, of this man, and that you’ll pause to think about what matters most to you. That you’ll share a quiet moment with people you love.