Sunday, February 10, 2013

Denton Haber Eulogoy

After my Eulogy of my father( Denton Haber) Prescott Haber said, "Dad- you could have done better." A long pause ... then Walker Haber said "But because you were prepared ... you did good enough ." I laughed.


Thank you – for coming. 

I am scheduled to go first. Today in attendance is my high school debate coach and my high school debate partner. They know there is a reason on the program I am scheduled first, then my sister, then my brother, and then the preacher . . . that is called CLEAN-UP.

I asked my favorite first cousin Dustin, “What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say Denton Haber. “ His instant response was, “SHARP DRESSED MAN.” 
Dustin, my dad always dressed the same: Black Sweater with a collared shirt. Over a lunch conversation with my dad he taught me “Sometimes I’m over dressed and sometimes underdressed, Chad- but in this attire I am always acceptable.” Today I am a little under dressed, but I am wearing what my dad would wear.

WHO’S MY FAVORITE?: My kids’ response: “I am” 

MY dad took a personality test when he went to work as a salesman for Wendell Holcomb. DENTON was FIRST BORN whose personality was ENTJ - 
What is important to an ENTJ? 
1) See the problem, 
2) Make a plan 
3) Get others involved and act.

He had an amazing skill of taking complex issues and finding the silver bullet. “Here is what is really wrong. Here is the simple way to fix it. . . now go DO that with the help of others.” RESULTS matter to an ENTJ first-born. You do not get to make excuses as the son of an ENTJ first-born. He was known for very stimulating conversation. 
Others would see him as 
1) Intimidating 
2) Overly Assertive
3) No patience for people who make mistakes. 
Depending on your personality, you will see his behavior as self-sacrificing or COLD AND HEARTLESS for the exact same action. 

I am also first-born –and not an ENTJ. This week I have done my best to slow down and LOVE my dad. Love is a verb - How did I show my love? I walked through his steps and talked to his friends the people he loved.

I could hear those words over and over this week
-“He slowed down and learned my story.” 
– He gave me a job when nobody else would. 
-He was like a second father, 
-He was like a coach, brother, guide, mentor – all-time-favorite-person. 

A SECRET my dad taught me in my teenage years was the answer to “Do you know who my favorite person is?” He learned the answer through his first sales boss: Wendell Holcomb – “Don’t be worried about the next sale, or the next big deal, stay focused on the deal right in front of you.” “A bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush.” 
DENTON’S TRANSLATION – The Favorite person is the one that is right in front of you. 

LUNCH CONVERSATION – in my TEENS- My friend Jason ( who spent this week with me) recalls a conversation between my dad and I when we were teenagers. 
I asked my dad, “Why is your car always on empty? Why don’t you fill the tank all the way up? It costs just as much to keep your car on FULL as it does to keep your car on EMPTY.” 
“Chad – You must be able to fill the car to full for the FIRST TIME. “ This statement did not make sense to me or my friend, Jason. My dad slowed down and un –pack this messy parable for me. “I don’t have enough cash-flow to buy eggs, bread and a full tank of gas. A full tank of gas KILLS the cash flow. A little bit of gas + eggs + milk + bread means we get to try again tomorrow.” 

That conversation happened with Jason as our witness 25 years ago. Jason (and many others that watched these conversations, would point out the intensity in the conversation. Jason’s viewpoint painting me as defiant and antagonistic RINGS in his recounting of that conversation. NEITHER my dad nor I felt that defiance. We both felt the drive to understand one another. It was just a FIRST BORN TALKING TO A FIRST BORN . . . STEEL SHARPENING STEEL. 

LUNCH CONVERSATIONS IN MY TEENS: THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION OF YOUR LIFE IS WHO YOU CHOOSE TO MARRY. Make sure it is somebody you want to be more like. As the years pass, you will gravitate to being more like her and she will gravitate toward being more like you. College is the best selection you will ever have. Stay in college until you find the one you want. Once you find her…. STOP looking. 

LUNCH CONVERSATION in my 20S: Lesson on being a FIRST BORN. The parent and the child can learn lessons out of order. Sometimes the CHILD learns the lesson before the parent. 

One of my dad’s gifts to me was during these conversations – Dad would say, “I was wrong. You were right. Let’s do it your way.” I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has told me since that conversation, “I have never had anyone else admit to being wrong. Tell me I was right, and then start doing it my way.” Thanks for teaching me that lesson, Dad. 

SECRET about what HAPPENED AT LUNCHES: To outside observers, if we had a LIFE-PROBLEM and met for lunch, the game would change dramatically from before the lunch to after the lunch. Any of the other players would say, “What happened at lunch? That was not our plan when you left for lunch.” We took a problem that we disagreed upon to lunch. During that lunch the conversation would be very heated and very intense. ‘WHAT ARE YOU THINKING” - The other man was expected to break it down. We would get out a napkin. We would draw out an action plan. The plan would be set . . . .

The next day’s lunch might be the same problem because ‘THAT PLAN DIDN’T WORK.” 
Sometimes the child learns the lesson before the dad. 
Sometimes the dad and the child learned the lesson at the same time, sometimes the Dad taught the child. 

One lunch in my 20s, my dad gets out his napkin and draws a pyramid. He says something about Maslows’ Hiarchy of Needs . “You see this pyramid is wider at the bottom. You see that it is narrow at the top. Do you want to know how I got enough cash flow to fill up the tank of gas all the way? When you are fighting for food, clothing and shelter you have great competition. Everyone is fighting for that . The competition is fierce. I just advertised for a $10/hour position and we had 50 people apply. I just advertised for a position that will pay $100K . . . and NO ONE applied” There is less competition at the top of the pyramid – focus there.

My dad was pushing me with this question, “Why do you feel the need to employ the whole world?” My answer, “People will work much harder for a boss than they would ever work for themselves. If they do their jobs, and do what they say they can do, they will pay for themselves. “ Fifteen years later, these words had become a mission for him. He did want to give everyone a job. He had seen that people would work much harder for HIM than they would for themselves. As long as he had reasonable expectations, it did not cost him anything. They would pay for themselves. 

LUNCH ON MISTAKES – Don’t ever make the same mistake twice. You don’t have to make the same mistakes I made . . . we are the same . . . it is like making the same mistake twice. STEEL SHARPENING STEEL. FIRST BORN TO FIRST BORN. 

LUNCH IN MY 20S You don’t have 20 years experience. During one of our lunches he was pounding home the “don’t make the same mistakes twice” story. He recounted the issues with a co-worker that was making repeat stupid mistakes – over and over and over. When he confronted the co-worker “This is the way it has been done for 20 years. I have worked here for 20 years.” He replied, “You do not have the experience of 20 years - - - you simply have the experience of the first day on the job. It is same day over and over again for 20 years.”
Don’t make the same mistakes twice, Chad. 

LUNCH IN MY 20S- Your Friends: You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. 

How this applies to me living in an RV, I am not sure. All of my friends make way more than nothing. 

It took me into my 30s to figure this one out. I thought he was just talking about money. 
You are the average of how your friends treat their wives. 
You are the average of how your friends treat their kids. 
You are the average of how your friends spend their time. 
You are the average of how much beer they drink. 


My church was running a series on the movie ‘The Bucket List’ a couple of years after it was in theaters. I stayed up all night writing my bucket list. I walked over to Dad’s house and shared my bucket list with the whole family. I offered to pay for anyone willing to do something on my list with me.
No one wanted to do my Bucket List with me. Not one single item on my Bucket List with me. - - EVEN WHEN I offered to pay – NO ONE. 


The next day at lunch
He told me “your mom and I went to that movie in the theater a couple of years ago.” After that movie, we both sat down and EACH wrote out our bucket list. My mother had just hit a big milestone in her recovery from cancer. He was really looking at his future and could see his life was finite – not the immortal self-image of the FIRST BORN ENTJ. My mom read her list first. 

He said, “I looked at my list and not ONE THING did we overlap on. “ He tore up his list and said . . . LET’S DO YOURS. 
This was a PIVITAL LUNCH CONVERSATION in my life. - If you were present before that lunch and then after that lunch –my life turned on a dime. If you missed the lunch, you were jarred by how much my behavior changed from that point forward. It did not make sense if you missed that conversation. 


I asked my Dad - what was on your bucket list: His answer I WANT TO HAVE A BUSINESS WITH MY SONS

I painted a house with my father-in-law and asked what is on your bucket list: I want to do for my kids what my Dad did for me. 

I asked my mother-in – law what is on your bucket list: I want to go on a hot air balloon ride? 

I asked my wife what is on your bucket list: I learned that we didn’t overlap on one single item. 

I started with people I cared about and worked down their bucket lists. While doing their bucket lists, I have gotten to do all of my bucket list and have a much fuller life. I have done everything on my bucket list. 

Until they know you care – they will question your motivations. 
Until YOU know you care, they won’t tell you their TRUE story. If you do not know their story, you do not care. 


DENTON’S TRANSLATION – the most important person is the one that is right in front of you. 

CHAD’S TRANSLATION: Learn how they want to be loved. 
John - Dad learned that you want to be loved by sharing the burden of responsibilities. He did this by helping you take the dock in and out, doing the work together. He knew that if he told you he was going to be somewhere, he NEEDED to be there. A broken commitment was a sin to you. 
Heidi - Dad learned that you felt loved when he spent time with your kids. He knew when he gave your children undivided attention –free from distractions, you felt loved. 
Mom, yours was the most complicated of all. When there was something that he knew you wanted – no matter what- Dad knew that the more he personally had to sacrifice to attain that for you – the more out-of-reach it was – by attaining that prize, you felt loved. When he gave you that gift, he showed you that you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to give you that gift. 
ME – he showed me he loved me by going to lunch with me. 

TOO STRONG AT LUNCH – When neither side would give, we would bring someone else to lunch to act as the judge. The witness. Third party. This poor person . . . “Join us for lunch.” When they accepted the invitation, they often did not know how much was about to be revealed about FIRST BORN TO FIRST BORN conversations. 

The typical response after the lunch: “I am exhausted” “Do you guys hate each other? That was so intense You do that on PURPOSE.”

We would booth look at each other with a refreshed, revived and renewed feeling – we were back to being on the same page - . . . and CLUELESS to the exhaustion of the witness. STEEL SHARPENING STEEL. FIRST BORN TO FIRST BORN. 
There were no sides – How could anyone ever see that we weren’t on the same side?

LAPSES IN JUDGEMENT: THIS WEEK I was able to observe that he did get better as he grew older. He didn’t make the same mistakes twice. The words people used to describe him as a young man: SO intimidating, fierce, controlling, confrontational, brusque, critical
As he softened with age, the different version of him surfaced: He was refreshingly honest. He was straightforward with our relationship. When he and I would talk, it felt as if no one else existed in the world. Many comments like this were said. 
The obvious lapses in judgments from people that only knew him as a younger man, the man that I had lunch with on Monday would not be capable of contemplating, let alone carrying out. 
Lapses in judgment as a younger man: Filling a purse full of manure. 
Getting a pick up high centered on a pile of manure. Buying a farm without telling his wife. 
The story of the man in his 20s taking his young wife (also in her 20s) picking a card off the shelf, “Honey this is the card I would have bought you.” She read it, and he had her put it back on the shelf. I know he did this because he did not have enough money for lunch and the card. The man I had lunch with on Monday would have skipped lunch so that he would have had enough money to buy the card. I know he was looking at the cash –flow equation trying to get to a FULL THE TANK OF GAS. 
He got much better at slowing down – and really focusing on the person in front of him. 

For our lunch on Monday – he asked for the lunch. He named the place. He named the time. . . . . and he was 45 minute late. By now, he knows that I will wait for him. He knew I would wait all day to have lunch with him and that I would not keep score. The only reason I know he was 45 minutes late is because he pointed it out. He was not disrespecting me, or did not forget, . . he was just focused on the one in front of him – I knew that and waited. 

When you have lunch as many times as we have had lunch - - the topics get repeated. 

From the beginning of this lunch IT WAS COMPLETELY different. It was new ground. For the last120 days, he had fixated on the fact that I was living in an RV with my 3 sons and wife. 

At the hearing on November 28th – where they focused on my wife’s personality type, he started read everything he could get his hands on about her case. He had obviously slowed down and looked at the things Annette was doing. In addition, he also slowed down and looked at the things I was doing with Preventive Health Strategies

This pushed him to look at his own personality test from when he worked for Wendell Holcomb– “She has the same personality traits as me. – They are attacking her for being like ME. This could have happened to me.”

Since that revelation in November, he has been my voice. 

He got it . . . but I was failing him. Since his revelation, we would have lunch and he would give me the rundown on what he had done since our last lunch, and who he has called. 

I would tell him, “I love you, Dad. Thank you Dad.” Not expecting his voice to do anything. He would get SO ANGRY at me. 

He saw me as FATALISTIC by living in the RV. Living in the RV was the ultimate symbol to him that I had given up. He saw me wilting. 

He told me – “Chad you need to SHUT UP – you can’t be her voice. Let me be her voice.” He was caring about what I cared about. In my whole life, he had never told me to shut up. 

On Monday – from the start- OUR FINAL LUNCH was completely different. 

This lunch was completely 

OUT OF BOOK – in Chess Tournaments, players record their moves. If you are studying chess, you study the moves. The log of these moves is called the BOOK. If you play chess on line, the computer will tell you how many billions of people have made this move. As your moves become more advanced, the number of people who have played that move drops. When you have mastered the game, you might be lucky enough to be the VERY FIRST PERSON to make a move. This move is called OUT OF BOOK. 

From the very first words out of his mouth, this lunch was OUT OF BOOK. 
“The things the 2 of you are doing ARE AMAZING – I finally get why you are willing to live in an RV. The lesson that I taught you about HOLDING NOTHING BACK – you did not make the same mistake I did. “

“What has happened to you is UNFAIR – UNJUST – I don’t know how to counsel you. So can you please sit here until we come up with a plan that you and I can agree might work?”
I was hopeless. I was wilted. I told him I was out of ideas. He cried. I cried. 
He said, “It needs to be YOUR PLAN – not your wife’s plan. “
ME: “Why dad? – We are ONE.” 
DAD: “I know that Chad – but to the rest of the world, it does not make sense.”

I told him my idea and he built upon it until it became our dream

HE SAID – “Go – Don’t get a return ticket. Stay there until you have enough momentum and your absence won’t be missed. I wish I had more to give. This is all I have today. I VERY MUCH WANT IT TO BE KNOWN THAT I WAS A PART OF THIS. IN 20 year, I want to look back and know that I got to be a part of what you are doing and I believed in you. It was our dream I will visit you this time in HAITI. I very much want to be a part of this. “ 

So for the very first time in MY life – he wrote a check TO SOMETHING I CARED ABOUT and said, “See you in HAITI.” 

When I told my uncle Doug what my dad had done, he got a notecard and said something to the effect of:


We both laughed and I taped it on one of my Grandma’s (their mom) water pitchers. He then took 5 one hundred dollar bills out of his pocket and put it into that pitcher. The last time I saw the jar, another twenty dollar bill had joined the pitcher. If you find that water pitcher, please put it on the counter on BOB’s CARRY OUT AND DELIVERY. 

I had the best dad ever. 

He was MY favorite.

Bob's Carry Out and Delivery 


  1. Wow. Reading again makes me cry again. . . or maybe I just have not really stopped crying - I just keep running out of tears.

  2. Very cool. I learned. I learned what ENTJ's are. Even in the very brief
    meeting I had with Denton I can see how clearly he was one. I learned more
    about Chad who continues to be an interesting mystery to me. Loved the
    piano interludes, time to reflect on what had been said. Thanks

    Dave Jansa