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My Father’s Eulogy

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The services for my father are over. Well, mostly over. His wishes were always to be cremated and to have his ashes spread at the beach at Napatree Point in Watch Hill where he grew up. It’s the beach that he kept his boats at when he was younger. We still need to scatter his ashes. I can just picture him rolling his eyes and telling me he didn’t want to be buried and stuck in the ground forever.
All I keep thinking about is how I’m supposed to be going on with my life now…. but I don’t see how that’s possible. In trying to figure out how on earth I work through this grief, I have this burning desire to write. Write anything and everything. The best memories of my dad. The times he was a huge pain in the butt. The way he knew almost everything about anything. The way he interacted with my children. The way my children are processing his death.
At his funeral service, three of us spoke. My dad’s best friend, Steve, who he’s known since he was 7, my Uncle Billy, and me. When we were making the arrangements, I didn’t hesitate for a second about speaking. So many people remarked about how strong it was of me, but it wasn’t strength. I just knew it was what I needed to do and so I did it. You see, my dad was a musician, and he passed on his love of music to me. My dad had been watching me perform onstage since I was 9, and I just felt in my heart that it’s what he would have wanted. One last time to watch me speak and play my flute. At first, I said that I wouldn’t be able to play my flute because I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it. But I knew that I had to at least try, and so I did.

My children where they always were when my dad was around… crowded into his lap.

Eulogy for My Father

“I was told by my mother and sister that I had to keep it brief up here… but if you knew anything about my father, you know that nothing he said was ever brief. I am 100% my father’s daughter, so I hope you’re comfortable because I’m about to embark on a series of short stories about my father.
I knew when I decided to speak that the only way I could get through this was to keep it light-hearted. Again, if you knew anything about my father, you know that he would be thrilled to have me up here telling light-hearted, silly stories about him. The only thing that would be better in his eyes would be if I started telling jokes, but I’m not going to go there.
My father had this tradition he kept whenever my sister, Bonnie, or I brought home a new boy that we were dating. He’d come strolling up the stairs with a double barrel rifle over his shoulder.
Now, this is a common story from father’s who are trying to intimidate their daughter’s boyfriends, but this wasn’t my dad. He wasn’t trying to intimidate anyone, and you could see from the twinkle in his eyes that he was just playing. It was his way of teasing us. Usually, an hour later, and my boyfriends would be at ease, chatting with my dad, and I’d be standing there like hello, what about me?!
He would start conversations with anyone and everyone. When I went to school for music, my recitals were put onto a CD. He’d randomly tell me, “oh, I was driving around and I ran into so and so, you know them right? Well, I played your recital CD for them…” I was like dad! It’s an hour long!
As soon as I had children, my recital CD turned into pictures of his grandchildren. The cashier at the gas station. People he worked with. People he knew as well as people he didn’t know. I’m sure you’ve all seen pictures of my kids because he was so proud and he loved them so much.
As I look around this room, I can just see him interacting with people here. He seemed to have inside jokes and stories with every single person. Just close your eyes, and I bet you can picture him playfully bantering with you and exchanging stories.
As playful and silly as he could be, he also could be very serious. One of my first memories of my father is a day I came home from preschool school and we talked about Judaism. I told him that we had a new boy in our class who was Jewish. My best friend at the time and I had talked about how being Jewish was wrong and I came home to tell my dad. Now, I’m not sure exactly what I told him, but he asked me why I was so sure that this Jewish boy was wrong and we were right. I told him very clearly that we had the Bible to tell us that we were right. My dad responded that they had their own Bible that told them that they were right. I don’t remember word for word the rest of the conversation, but what my 4-year-old-self took from that was to be open and accepting to everyone and anyone. That just because someone believes something different than we do doesn’t mean that we can’t be open, loving, and listen to their ideas.
This has been a valuable lesson that has guided me out into adulthood…. a lesson I’m sure we all could agree could benefit many people in our world right now.
So, my dad was playful, long-winded, serious, and he was also extremely passionate.
The first time I saw him cry was watching Homeward Bound. Yes, the movie about the dogs. You know, at the end of the movie, when the animals come trotting up over the hill? Yup. Tears, pouring down his face. I was young enough to not understand the concept of happy crying, so that memory really stuck with me. To this day, I have seen my dad cry both happy and sad tears. He’s cried at important events, such as my wedding, college graduation, the birth of my children, as well as events of lesser importance, such as… the red sox winning… or, the red sox losing. Basically, talk about the red sox, and you could count on my dad to get misty eyed.
My dad excelled in his role as Grampa. His name was the first grandparent name that all 3 of my children said, and he was so thrilled about it. He also may have gloated just a tiny bit. He couldn’t come into my house without being bombarded by little bodies wanting big hugs. He could make them laugh like nobody else in this world and would read books in such a fun and animated way to them.
Since the tragic news of my father’s death, I feel as if I’ve become a member of a very unfortunate club. The club of someone who lost their parent at far too young of an age. It’s not even been a week and some days the pain is just so unbearable I wonder if I can possibly get through this. It’s not fair to raise my sweet babies to not know how awesome their grampa was.
However, I am also a member of a really great club. The club of having parents who are truly extraordinary.
The weird thing about grief when you’re a parent to small children is that life has to go on. Even though I feel as if my world has ended, I still have to get up in the morning and feed my children breakfast.
A few nights ago, we were all going stir crazy, so we biked down to the cove near our house with our children. As I was biking along I couldn’t help but think of how unfair life is; how I’m not sure I can ever feel joy again.
As we stopped at the cove, I watched my girls frolic and laugh, their little bodies running and dancing in the sunset. For just a brief moment, I forgot to be sad, and I experienced joy through my children.
It was such a wonderful reminder that as hard as this seems, we will all get through it, and we will feel joy again.
We will tell stories of our dear little Ralphie… and I can see him glaring at me for calling him that. But we will tell stories, and remember him and his legacy will live on.
So, as you grieve the loss of your father, husband, uncle, friend… think of how he would have wanted you to feel joy. As we finish up the service, I encourage you to think of your best memory of him, and share it with someone… and just as my dad would have done, turn a stranger into a friend.
I got my passion for music from my father and it is only fitting that I say goodbye to him that way.”

We were at my parents’ house and the kids were running wild in their yard. My dad was watching them and he looked so happy I took a picture. I’m so glad I did.

{I then turned around and played my flute to my dad one last time. I will love you forever.}

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

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