Posted by: Anonymous Me | July 31, 2011

The Eulogy…

This is the eulogy I gave for my dad at his funeral back in May. I wanted to post it here for several reasons…Mainly so that anyone who didn’t attend the funeral could read it, and so that those who did attend could add anything they wanted to say but couldn’t at the time. But also so that it was somewhere permanent. Anything you see in brackets [] indicates something I’m adding here that I didn’t say at the funeral.

Firstly, I’d like to reiterate my thanks to the preacher who officiated the funeral for his kind words, and also my gratitude to all those who attended to honor the memory of my father and support my family at this [still] difficult time.

When I was thinking of what I could say about my father, how I could describe him, all I could think of was, ‘Well, he was…something.’ Whatever that something is depends on how and when you knew my father and what sort of relationship you had with him. I thought I would share a few memories of my father that highlight some of the different aspects of his personality so you can get a sense of what he was like.

~ My younger sister got started playing softball at an early age. My dad used to help with her pitching and catching and was often at her games.
~ When my younger brother was born, my dad claimed to LOATHE the name my step-mother chose for him, and only called him by his middle name. In fact, I don’t think he called my younger brother by his first name until he was in junior high. I think if my dad could have had it his way, all of his children, boys and girls, would have been named Tyler…something like George Foreman and his five sons named George.
~ The last car I had was a 2001 Chevy Cavalier Coupe. I loved that car! While sitting at stop lights, I started to notice something rattling from somewhere under my car. My dad had an amazing knowledge of all things mechanical, so I thought I would ask him about it before I took the car to the shop. I nonchalantly asked him what he thought it was. He disappeared under my car, came out, when to the garage, and returned with a handful of S hooks, which are, unsurprisingly, hooks formed in the shape of an S. He disappeared under the car again. He said that my muffler was loose, and that it should be fine now. I was so thankful I wouldn’t have to spend a bunch of money to get something fixed! However, when I started my car up to leave, something had changed. All the sudden my little two door Cavalier was emitting a low rumble. From then on, I continually felt compelled to drive with my sunglasses on, seat back, windows down, and speakers UP!
~ One of things I was not expecting to find out about my dad as I came to know him as an adult was that he has the sense of humor of a 14 year old boy. [And not just any 14 year old boy, but one whose dad lets him stay in the garage with him when all his drinking buddies come over to watch the game.] This was brought home to me one day when my older brother and I were out in the garage packaging parts with my dad. He had a tv mounted to the wall, and they often had sports or news on while they were out there working. So, my brother and I sitting there chit chatting when all the sudden my dad starts cracking up laughing. My brother and I looked at each other and then looked at him. ‘What’s so funny?’ ‘Do you see what game is on the tv?’ I had noticed it was some college football game, which is of no interest to me, so I had ignored it. My brother and I both looked at the screen, and said ‘Yeah? So what?’ My dad, still laughing, said, ‘Do you see who’s playing?? It’s the Trojans versus the Beavers!’ [My mom and my brother were mortified that I shared this story, but I promise, this sort of statement was a HUGE part of my dad’s personality, AND it was probably the most tame example of it I could share in polite company. 😉 ]
~ One summer when I was between 12 and 14, I came to visit my dad in Florida. My step-mom had taken my younger brother and sister to visit family in the northeast, so I had my dad all to myself. I was thrilled! I am pretty sure my dad didn’t know what to do with me to fill up the time, so he decided to take me out to the movies. This was remarkable because while he would watch movies on tv all day long, the number of times he went to a movie theater could probably be counted on one hand. I am pretty sure what swayed his decision was the presence of a movie theater in his town where you could sit at a table, eat dinner, an drink beer while you watched the movie, a total novelty back then. I don’t think he was really concerned with what was playing as long as there was beer because we ended up going to see ‘Thelma and Louise’. As we left the theater, I was still basking in the glow of seeing a young Brad Pitt on screen [*happy sigh*, even after all these years!], and I asked my dad what he thought of the movie. ‘What a load of feminist BS!’ We never went to the movies after that…
~ One of my favorite things about visiting my dad when I was a kid was going to his office and being able to help out. I sorted the mail, put labels on bags, packaged parts, and for reasons I still don’t understand, answered the phone. I am not sure what my dad was thinking, and I can only imagine what the people calling were thinking when they heard an 8 year old’s voice say, ‘Thank you for calling EDS. How may help you?’ I guess a professional sounding 8 year old was no big deal as long as the emphasis was on the professional part and not the 8 year old part.
~ I think anyone that knew my dad associates him with fishing and being on the beach. I think all of us kids at some point caught baby crabs for him to use as bait when he was fishing of the dock in his backyard.

I have been trying to think of a way to articulate how my family and I are feeling right now, with the loss of my father [still] fresh and heavy on our hearts and minds. Something that describes how we feel in this moment, not necessarily how we will feel always. Nothing I can think of is adequate so I thought I was would borrow from someone else and share with you a poem by W.H. Auden aptly titled ‘Funeral Blues’. [This also happens to be the only poem I know by heart from memory.]

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Sometimes it is necessary to walk through the pouring rain to get on the other side of things. Beyond his persistent health issues, Dad had been unhappy in recent months, feeling adrift in a way I don’t think he had felt before. Then, when he was admitted to the hospital, it became apparent that his health was failing and going through the various procedures took an additional toll on his body. I think now, though, he has indeed made it through the storms and is finally able to stand in the sun. Despite our heavy hearts, I think we are finding solace in knowing he is at last at peace.

I don’t know what comes after death. None of us can really say for sure until we get there ourselves. I like to think it’s whatever we want it to be. White robes, heavenly trumpets, and pearly gates are not everyone’s idea of paradise, and certainly not my dad’s. I like to think he’s on a white sand beach with a fishing pole in one hand and a fried bologna sandwich in the other [and a cooler full of beer and a carton of cigarettes sitting next to him]. May the warmth of that same sun find us all after our tears have dried.

Our father was not a perfect man by any means. He had many faults and for many of us, our relationships with him were not easy. But whether he is your father, son, brother, uncle, or friend I ask you to remember what I think might be one of the most important things about him…He was, and always will be, ours.

~ If anyone would like to add their thoughts, feelings, memories to this, please feel free to share in the comments. ~

Thank you.

Solemnly,

Me

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Responses

  1. I think everything is well said. I very much like the pictures at the end. Big hugs & lots o’ love!! ❤


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