Mourners paid tribute to Patrick Oliver, 31, and his daughter, Kaitlyn, 4, in a joint funeral service at Temple Bible Church on Saturday afternoon.
The father and his daughter both died from injuries suffered in a boating accident at Temple Lake Park on June 23. Kaitlyn died later that day. Her father, who lost both legs trying to rescue her from the propellers of a houseboat, died July 6.
Family, friends and the community mourned Oliver and Kaitlyn.
“Oh God of hope, we come to you in shock and grief and confusion of heart,” said the Rev. Chase Bowers, a pastor at TBC, who officiated the funeral. “Give us light, God, to guide us through a season of darkness.”
Held in the main auditorium, the service opened with music and still photos of Kaitlyn. Crotty Funeral Home later presented photo and musical remembrances of both father and child, several of them when they were together. The caskets were opened for viewing before and after the service.
Bowers told some of Kaitlyn’s brief history since being born Sept. 19, 2012, to Patrick Oliver and Mary Ann Mayfield. He described her as a sassy little girl who liked Barbie dolls and the movie “Frozen.”
“She will be warmly missed by all who knew her,” he said. “She was a very loved little girl, the apple of her father’s eye. She was so special to him he gave his life to save hers.”
“Patrick Oliver loved his little girl,” Bowers said. “He was at his best when he was meeting the needs of others.”
In this way, he reflected God’s love for us, Bowers said, when He gave His son to die for us.
After another song, Bowers continued.
“When we receive news like we received three weeks ago…there’s shock, there’s grief, there’s pain, and there’s a clear understanding that this is not the way things ought to be.”
“Moments like this give us pause,” he said. “They rightly cause us to ask why.”
“They move us to hold our babies a little tighter,” he said. They help us to see “that every day really matters. They help us to think about eternity.”
Bowers referred to the apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, chapter 15, verse 3: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.”
It is most important, Bowers said, that our hope for eternity lies in a crucified and risen Jesus.
“At the right time, Christ died for us, just as Patrick did…so that death would not be the end,” he said. “Our hope is to defeat death.”
“The resurrection of Jesus Christ and his promise of a return offers us hope, even in the midst of grief,” Bowers said.
“We recognize death is not the way it ought to be,” he said. “We need an anchor to hold onto, and something to hope for.”
He said the apostle Paul closed the chapter by speaking of a time when this perishable body will put on immortality and “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
Bowers said we can live our lives in such a way to honor Kaitlyn and her dad, who brought a lot of joy in the short lives that they lived, by showing others love and kindness.