With the close of 2018 came the end of my dad’s life–an event long anticipated but nevertheless unexpected. The phone call to hasten us to his side came the week before Christmas. He flew to Heaven as we flew to be near him. But my sister and I were there to pick up the ashes and assemble a smattering of memories to share with those who had known him in Alaska. And we were there to help Mom navigate her first steps without the man she has lived for these past sixty years! I arrived home for Christmas Eve with a happy host of grandkids, though I was reduced to a whisper with cough-induced laryngitis! And ready-or-not the New Year has been ushered in without the requisite circular letter to family and friends…and though my cold has cleared, my thoughts haven’t. So for today I will make a start with just a few pictures and a copy of the eulogy I wrote and read for Dad. It was not a hard thing to do; I loved my Dad, and he me.
Meredith Asher Weaver–his legacy as seen through a daughter’s eyes
Meredith Asher Weaver–his legacy as seen through a daughter’s eyes
March 25, 1936 – December 15, 2018
Meredith Asher Weaver was born in Madison County, Virginia to Harry and Louise Weaver, the middle and most mischievous of their three sons. His father was a quiet gentle man, both farmer and preacher. His mother was known for her hospitality, her quick wit, and her devotion to her husband and sons. Both spent their lives in service to God by serving others.
Meredith Asher was a combination of the two: by nature somewhat of an introvert but loving to play a good prank and then to tell you the tale–whether the one about the snake and the fainting teacher, or the time he helped put the dean’s car up on a roof. He was a very hard-working farm boy and could regale you with stories of farm life, of pranks involving horses, of tying the best miller’s knots, of picking potatoes after school, and of course of how he came to lose a third of his thumb.
His mother had stories as well: of rescuing him from his escapades and recommending a certain pretty girl to him–that “Jeanie Bradford”. And so it happened that Mert, as he came to be known, settled down to marriage and family. In the process he made the faith of his father and mother his own, forever changing the trajectory of his life. “Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not it was for me he died” became his theme song, and he devoted the rest of his life to serving God by serving others, with his bride Jean Marie at his side.
Mert didn’t stay on the farm but he was a quick learner and went on to develop skills as diverse as heavy-equipment operator, bricklayer, and fine woodworker. In his spare time he built the beautiful cedar shake house in New Jersey in which he and his Jeanie raised their family: two sons and two daughters. Later he would build the home in which they would retire in far-away Alaska. And all through the years he loved crafting intricate wooden replicas of trucks and trains and all sorts of machinery. And there were tougher models for the grandkids–dump trucks, Noah’s arks, animal-filled trains, tops, and tic-tac-toe boards.
There wasn’t much Dad couldn’t do, except perhaps to spell ( : But that didn’t stop him from writing faithfully every week to his mother, all her life long. His affection peeked through in letters to his kids away at school. He had a quirky sense of humor and his letters always made you feel dearly missed and loved.
But most of all, Mert expressed His love for others and for God by working hard. He did whatever he did with excellence, whether building his Jeanie a beautiful hardwood hutch, or turning an old shoebox into a log cabin for a Pioneer Girl Father/Daughter social, or coming out to skate in dashing figure-8’s at a daughter’s gym time. On behalf of us kids he tolerated dirtbikes, many dogs, and even a horse for which he built a barn and fenced two pastures. He may not have said “I love you” very often, but he tried to show it.
Mert was a man of integrity. He followed through with what he said and he had an unflinching demand that his kids always tell the truth. Sometimes he was mistaken and there were relational hurts he didn’t know how to fix. The intricacies of relationship were not his forte but he poured his life energies into doing what he could with what he had. He never made much money and was always frugal with what he had. He worked for the prize of a job well done and the love of serving others.
Mert was determined to maximize the use of his skills and life energies in the Lord’s service. So, at the age of 46 when the kids were nearly all gone, he gave up his treasured New Jersey home and started all over again in a squat cinder block fixer-upper on a non-descript street in Merritt Island, Florida, home of Teen Missions. He was soon excavating swampland, building and maintaining the Lord’s Boot Camp, and being stretched beyond anything this farm boy had imagined. Now that he had practiced on his own teenagers, there were more teens, whole teams of them summer after summer for the next dozen years, to disciple and supervise in construction and evangelism. He and his incredibly handy and hardy Jeanie were an amazing team, roughing it in far-flung places all around the globe every summer all through their 50’s–beginning with Mexico, then Liberia, India, Portugal, Ukraine, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Israel. In these places Mert’s skills and ingenuity were taxed to the utmost in construction projects and in building teens. He even learned public speaking skills in order to shared God’s Word and his own testimony. Meanwhile he and his Jeanie were building a lifetime’s worth of relationships and memories, and stories to tell, both sweet and traumatic. (Imagine being left behind in a crude hospital in India recovering from emergency abdominal surgery!) And every summer they celebrated another anniversary in a different place with thirty kids to help. Dad was never big on occasions like birthdays and anniversaries; he needed the help!
After over a decade with Teen Missions Int’l, Mert and Jean were ready to move on but not willing to just slide into old age. They still had dreams. At ages 58 and 56 after spying out the land and finding an opportunity to serve, they sold their little Florida home and started from scratch again on a plot of land off the beaten track in Alaska. Mert signed on to serve with SEND Int’l and Alaska Bible College in the building and maintenance department. Now instead of battling swamps and Palmetto trees, handyman Mert contended with chapped cracked hands, thawing frozen drains, and doing whatever odd job was needed. The first several winters were weathered in a mobile home with ice thick inside closet walls. But in due time Mert built the home they would end up retiring in. It was a cozy weather-tight house that became a haven for many, including the boy they took in till he was grown, who would become like a son to them in their old age. Mert gave his life energies away in unsalaried service to others in Jesus’ name until Alzheimer’s disease forced him to rest in 2009. Though he lost the ability to do all the work that was so meaningful to him, he did not lose his smile. Though his outer man was fading by the day, his inner man was alive and well, waiting for glory. He passed peacefully on December 15th with his wife of sixty years at his side.
It has been a long goodbye for those of us who loved him.
He never got to meet his seven, going on eight, great-grandchildren. Nor could he attend the weddings of any but the first of his ten grandchildren.
But we rejoice with tears that Dad has been welcomed home at last–a good and faithful servant entering the joy of His Lord.
What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.
It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.