January is the month my Dad passed back to spirit side. He was an amazing man. This is part of the eulogy I wrote for his funeral twenty years ago.
I remember it like it was yesterday…..
It was Christmas Eve, 1966—a year with a storm so huge we couldn’t open the back door. Dad was to sing at Christmas Eve Mass, but there was no way he could drive in the blizzard, so he walked to church trudging through eight inches of snow. It wasn’t a grandiose gesture; it was simply what he had a responsibility to do.
That was how he lived his life; never wavering from his commitments.
In 1991, Dad had quadruple bypass surgery. When he was in recovery, I remember being afraid that, he’d never pull through this. But he rallied; determined to change his life. He walked, lifted weights and ate only what he was supposed to. Before long, he was in better shape than any of us.
That was how he lived his life; with quiet determination
I watched him with my brother, Bob—who at sixteen had a brain tumor, followed by years of multiple surgeries. He was always gentle, patient and loving. I saw in his eyes the compassion and concern he had for his beloved son.
That was how he lived his life; with gentle and sincere love.
Dad loved music and was blessed with a beautiful voice. We could always count on him to harmonize every time “Happy Birthday” was sung, and be a big part of our “Annual Christmas Concert”. It gave him great pleasure to celebrate life with song.
That was how he lived his life; with joyful celebration.
His sense of humor was one of his most defining characteristics. He always had a joke to tell. He couldn’t wait to share a new addition to his “comedy routine”. His battles with the squirrels were hilarious, and his appreciation for crazy presents endeared him to everyone.
That was how he lived his life; with a profound sense of humor.
Dad would never hesitate to drop what he was doing and help whenever needed. I benefited from his electrical and carpentry skills many times over the years. He was always ready to pitch in and do whatever he could to make lives better.
That was how he lived his life; selflessly.
In the last few months of his life, I often had the opportunity to sit quietly with my Dad, alone, and talk to him about life and death. He shared that he had been reviewing his life. Two of the things he regretted were: giving one of our beds to an out of town guest and not letting his little dog jump up on a new recliner. What can you say about a man who counts things like this among his major transgressions? He didn’t understand why so many people were telling him what a great guy he is. “I haven’t done anything special”, he’d say.
He was my hero.
He never had any problem admitting that my Mom was the only woman in the world for him. His love for her was limitless and he felt so blessed to have her as his wife. One of the hardest parts of letting go for him was his concern for her.
Dad considered his children his “greatest accomplishment” by far. He encouraged us when we didn’t believe in ourselves and stood in the background when we were in the spotlight. When I thanked him for being such a wonderful father, he said, “it was easy with wonderful children.”
He embraced his role as a grandfather with incredible zeal. This is where he was able to be his craziest self. He taught them, cried with them and laughed with them. They made his life more complete by being part of it.
Dad knew he was going to a better place. But, when you love someone your time together is never enough and I struggled with letting go.
His final gift was one last Christmas, and I knew that he was fighting to hang on for us. Shortly before he died, he shared a dream he’d had. In it, he was an angel, in heaven, with an incredibly beautiful voice. I’m sure that dream is now a reality. I’m sure Dad is at peace, making lots of new friends, telling his dumb jokes, singing in a choir more beautiful than I could have imagined and, most importantly, keeping his promise to me that he will always watch over us. Dad, you will always be a part of me and because of that, you will always live on. And so, with a heavy heart and many tears, I thank you for the wonderful memories knowing that you will always be the wind beneath my wings. ❤︎
My Father died on January 4, 2000. I was there. Six days earlier, on December 29, 1999, he sang “Happy Birthday” to my daughter, Sara. When she ran into his arms, he said, “I saved all my last singing for you.”
My Dad chose me, he didn’t have to, and I will always thank God for his decision. Twenty years later, I still miss him terribly. And, for that, I know how incredibly blessed I have been.
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