My Dad, Roy F. “Bud” Cederholm, Jr., passed away on August 27 and we said goodbye to him yesterday. He left peacefully after a long illness. While we’re devastated, we’re also comforted that he’s finally at peace. Dad’s legacy is an inspring one. He was a teacher, Episcopal priest, and later a bishop suffragan here in Eastern Massachusetts. He dedicated his life to serving others in the diocese and is well-beloved becuase of his lifelong dedication. While many know his ministry, I thought I’d share some stories of him just being…well, Dad. He taught me so much.
My Dad taught me kindness
My brother Matt and I hit the jackpot in the dad department. His kindness was relentless, his empathy constant. Being a minister’s (and later a bishop’s) son had its challenges, but what I grew to learn is that Dad’s true talent and passion was helping people. And that most important above all else is the kindness you can leave with someone. It’s what we remember the most and it will come back to you in spades.
My Dad taught me humor
Making people smile and laugh was integral to Dad’s being. His sermons always contained a moment of laughter no matter the subject. Dad knew that laughter brings people together, makes them feel more comfortable, and helps tell a story. He always had a child-like side to him that carried through his entire life.
Case it point: I was probably 14 years old and we were on a family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. We were all walking single-file down a narrow, busy street filled with tourists. Dad was walking past a low, metal traffic sign and pretended to hit his head, hard, while covertly slapping it to make a loud “bang”, followed by yelling, “Owwww!”. The tourists around him, horrified, immediately gasped and circled around him asking if he was okay. Dad laughed. “Just kidding”, he said with a smile.
It was actually horrifying as a teenager, but later I came to appreciate having a dad who doesn’t take himself too seriously and who’s never too old to joke—even at the expense of a group of concerned strangers.
My Dad taught me about caring for others
One summer day in the late 1980s, our family along with some extended family were enjoying a summer day on a crowded Rhode Island beach. Dad saw something way out in the water and immediately started yelling, “Shaaaahk! Shaaaaahk! Shaaaaahk!”. Top-of-his lungs screaming it. It cleared the entire beach. Chaos. Everyone getting out of the water. Then two lifeguards jog up to Dad, clearly not amused. “It’s just a sunfish, sir.”
Again, extremely embarrasing for us. Pretty amusing for Dad. Though he did think he was looking out for everyone.
His care of our Mom, Ruth Ann, for over 67 years has always shined brightly—even through his declining health over the last few years. We think it’s what kept him going the last 7 months, defying his doctors and caregivers.
My Dad taught me to be handy
Or rather, he taught me how not to be handy. When I was 12 I wanted to build a skateboard ramp in the driveway. My Dad, always supportive, offered to help. Like me, he’s not particularly handy, but he’s willing to try anything. So, we’re down in the basement cutting a board with his Sears circular saw (something I’d never seen him use before) when all of the sudden we heard this Whirrrrrrrrsssssssshhhhhhhup! And the saw went dead.
My dad had cut right through the power cord.
Now, we were lucky there wasn’t an electrical shock during all of this, but here’s what I remember most about that day: My Dad just laughing it off, patting me on the back and saying, “Oh well!” It became something of an embarrassing family legend over the years—but my dad really owned it.
My Dad taught me the ability to laugh at your mistakes and be unafraid of jumping into things you don’t fully understand how to do. To me, that’s an incredibly powerful quality.
We never did replace that circular saw.
My Dad taught me how to play the guitar
I was probably 10 when my Dad taught me 3 chords on the guitar. Most likely it was G, C, and D. He used the acoustic guitar much like he did humor—to bring people together. To help his storytelling. Some parishes didn’t get it, preferring traditional organ and choir hymns to his folksy style. But Dad didn’t care and did his own thing. Those that appreciated it, knew how special and unique it was.
Any road trip I can recall growing up always included Dad playing Paul Simon cassette tapes. As Dad’s Alzheimer’s worsened over the last year, when I would drive him to and from doctor appointments, I’d put Paul Simon on the radio. The amazing thing is that he’d sing right along, knowing every word and melody of those songs from so long ago despite his memory loss.
My Dad taught me hope
My Mom and Dad met their senior year at Randolph High School. At the time, my Dad played the trombone. Apparently he was pretty good at it. They went on a date that same year to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Lots of trombones there and Dad was quite a fan. So much so that, legend has it, he brought his own trombone mouthpiece to the concert, keeping it in his pocket—just in case they needed an extra trombone player to come up on stage and join the band.
That pure, innocent hope is what I’ll deeply miss from Dad. That anything is possible—so why not be ready for it.
Thank you, Dad. I miss you and I love you.