Deep down in my heart, I always knew that when the time came, I would want to speak at my father’s funeral. I knew I would need to stand before our family, friends, and loved ones to share precious (and yes, quirky) little memories about him. That day unexpectedly came on March 4, 2016–when we gathered to celebrate Dad’s life after he went to meet his Maker on February 28, 2016. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit working within me–and probably with a little help from my father, himself–I was able to get most of the words out…
Today we honor and celebrate the life of my father,
Charles Ingram, “Charlie” Shaneyfelt:
Affectionately called “Beats”, by my Mom.
Dad cannot be categorized into neat little boxes. It is easy to describe him, yet complex.
Dad is gentle, humble, quiet, thoughtful, kind, loving.
He is funny, interesting, unique, odd… and quirky.
And Dad is faithful, strong, enduring, patient, and long-suffering.
+ + +
Dad had a deep appreciation and love for music. He encouraged Sheri in her years of flute playing. And when my fifth grade band director told me that I wasn’t well suited to play flute because of the shape of my lips (!), my father had the solution. Dad took me into the living room and played various symphonic pieces, explaining the different instruments to me. French horn, bassoon… together we decided that I would play the oboe. I will never forget the many late night trips he or Mom would take to Peggy Romersa’s house–a former oboist for the Nashville Symphony–to purchase a reed if I had split mine. Some of Dad’s favorite composers were Handel, Schubert, Mozart, and Dvorjak.
Looking back, I can clearly see Dad reclining on the green sofa in our living room… with his eyes closed, resting, listening to his music as it boomed from his gigantic speakers that took up what seemed like half the dining room. I can still see the afternoon light from the windows shining down on Dad, as I would come in from the school bus in the afternoons. And Dad helped me select the music for Mark’s and my wedding, including our Processional into the church together, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”– that we sang just now. And it does not escape me that the day Mark proposed to me—February 28—would 21 years later, be the day that Dad left this earth. The good Lord knew what He was doing, when He gave Mark to me. Over the years, I have come to realize their similarities…and for that I am thankful, as I am for the legacy that Dad has left to our children, Henry, Louisa, and little Charlie.
+ + +
Dad was a craftsman, an artist. He had a brilliantly creative, yet engineering mind. After he left the hair business to pursue his hobby of metal-working, he spent many hours on his note pads, sketching and calculating his creations. We enjoyed seeing him build his masterpieces at home in our garage. The sound of his saws, welding rods, and huge metal equipment was a constant in our home. I can still see Dad in his protective welder helmet, with sparks flying everywhere.
As a family, we often visited Dad’s job sites with him, admiring him as he meticulously installed his work. He was well-known for his artistry and skill—his work commissioned by Nashvillians such as musicians Steve Winwood and Naomi Judd, and former Governor, Phil Bredesen. Dad took such joy and pride in his craftsmanship—there was no margin for error; anything produced by our father had to be done perfectly.
Not only did Dad build massive structures for others’ homes, but he always had a personal project. Over the course of several years, Dad built by hand a 21-foot fiberglass fishing boat. He painted it his favorite color, yellow. He created a customized chair for hairstylists, called ChairMate. He custom-built chairs for himself, having just finished his last one a couple of weeks ago. He created his own metal carts to assist him while carrying around the battery pack for his LVADs over the past years. Dad was rarely idle…always creating.
When our father had his hand accident in 1985, I remember his mourning in the car on the way to the ER: “I have always been so proud of my hands.” He took pride in his work, but in such a humble manner. And it was following this first traumatic event that Dad’s role of the suffering servant–of being patient during affliction–began to reveal itself in his life. I will always remember how our Mom tenderly cared for Dad, diligent in her role not only as wife, but as caretaker.
+ + +
Anyone who knows our parents witnessed the love that they share and lived out daily. Married when Dad was 21 and Mom, 23, they were married for 54 years in November. Mom is Dad’s rock. From the little things like preparing his special Beef Wellington in puff pastry… to the vital things like changing the dressing for his heart pump’s driveline every other night. Even the staff of the various ICUs requested that she be the one to do it, which is quite out of the usual hospital protocol.
Y’all know how sweet Mom is, but she is also fierce. She always stuck up for Dad. With him being such a gentle, non-confrontational person, Mom had to make sure nobody took advantage of him. I remember one particular time, a client was late paying him. Mom dialed them on the phone and let them have it. Mom stuck up for Dad like a Mama Bear. I loved listening to those phone conversations, while Sheri and I would exchange faces with Dad.
+ + +
Although Dad was in no way materialistic or ‘worldy’, he had an appreciation for fine things. He enjoyed fine foods. Dad would special order (in those days, by phone) fine European cookies and candies. He would hide his treats in various closets, to protect them from the rest of us (he said it was to keep them cool). Because of Dad’s impeccable taste and his recommendations to the Easter Bunny, Sheri and I probably had the best Easter baskets in the city. And when I spent a semester abroad in London, Dad did not miss the opportunity. He made sure I went to Harrods …for their chocolates. (But he also gave me specific instructions for a Barbour jacket: the ‘waxed-cotton-with-moleskin-lined-pockets’ jacket that I was to purchase and bring home to him.)
Other fine things Dad enjoyed: European cars. Dad owned the very first Porsche in Nashville, back in the 1960s. But before cars, Dad had his share of motorcycles, riding his British-made Matchless 500 Twin in his teens. A bad bike accident as a teenager left him without his front teeth. Eventually he convinced Mom to let him get one in his later years, buying his Kawasaki the year following his hand accident–and I am pretty sure he turned some fairly sharp corners around our neighborhood.
+ + +
Dad enjoyed and appreciated God’s creation. He loved nature. He loved the home we shared in the woods. He loved creatures, and passed this trait down to Sheri, especially, and my son, Henry. Over our childhood, Sheri and I had every pet imaginable: dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters, birds… guinea pigs, turtles, salamanders, newts, and crawdads from our creek.
Our family vacations to the ocean are treasured memories. I can just picture Dad with his fishing rods out on the sea, and his beautiful natural curls springing to life, because of the humidity and salty ocean air. And Dad was rarely seen without his trademark Greek fishing cap, in all seasons.
+ + +
But most importantly, Dad loved the Lord.
Dad is the wisest man I know when it comes to understanding Scripture, and walking with the Lord. God promises us that our suffering has a purpose, and I stand before you to tell you that the Lord used Dad’s suffering to light a fire in my Faith. When Dad’s heart failure had reached a point that he required a transplant, I was in the middle of a study of the Book of Acts—the acts of the Holy Spirit. Our father’s earthly life was a work of the Holy Spirit and he exemplified the Fruits, the nine attributes of a Christian life:
So during this Season of Lent as we approach the sadness of Good Friday but look toward the promised Hope of Easter, Resurrection Sunday will have a new meaning for our family this year. Because at this moment, Charles Shaneyfelt is experiencing his New Life… in Christ. And Dad knew this New Life is possible only through his Savior, Jesus Christ, Messiah, the Lamb of God: He alone is worthy.
Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
So, Dad, thank you for teaching us the most important lessons in life.
And to God be the Glory; great things He hath done.