10 Nov Eulogy: 3 Stories & Parables My Father Left Me
Yesterday, Saturday, November 9th, was the funeral services and visitation for my father. Between the hours of 11-1 many people from the various chapters of my father’s life stopped to pay their respect, share their stories, and to say their final good-byes to my father.
Then at 1pm, everyone congregated, and the ceremony started. We proceeded up to the front of the church. My father was placed front and center of the alter, baptismal candle lit, standing in front, and then the priest asked me to share a remembrance of my father.
I stood. I felt my knees weaken. I kneeled, made the sign of the cross, and proceeded to walk up to the lectern. I could here the click clack of my dress shoes on the cold stone floor. It seemed to be the longest walk ever to get to the microphone. I could hear the sobs in the congregation. I finally made it there. I placed the 3 pages onto the lectern. I looked up. All eyes were on me. I looked down. I took the deepest breath possible. I let it out. Another one. I began to read. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I slowed. I repeated to myself in my father’s own words, “Son, this is where it all began. You went to this school, you served at this alter, you read and sang many times here. You can do this. This is home.” I then said one last thing to myself, “They are just words on paper.”
I calmed, and then I was able to get through the 6 minutes of the following without hesitation or interruption. This is what I said:
“Last night I was lying in bed. All of the lights were off with the exception of a lamp to my left, which sits on my nightstand. Miles, my dog, was towards the foot of the bed to my right. I finished saying my prayers for the evening, and began reading about Saint Gemma. For some reason, I began to laugh. It was an uncontrollable gut busting laugh that made me begin to laugh aloud. It reminded me of my father saying, “We tease the ones we love. Laughter is love.” Shortly after I calmed down, finished reading the two stories, lights went off, and I tried to drift to sleep.
I was then wrapped in the silence of the night. Blanketed in darkness. I hear the humming of the fan in the background. The images began, the memories rushed, and the thoughts of me lying in bed next to my father crept in. I remember being around 4 or 5, lying next to my father, in their waterbed. I looked forward to those evenings when I could grab a book, and have him read it to me. More importantly, I remember my Sesame Street books and my father having me read to him. I didn’t really know how to read, but I made up stories to go along with the pictures. We both loved it.
I remember walking around the house in my fathers work boots. His shoes were always big on me. I recall trying on his rings and needing two of my fingers to keep them from moving around. I was always in awe of the size, the strength, and the respect my father commanded. I remember always wanting to be like my father. I remember his stories, his own versions of parables, shared with me to give me some greater meaning or lessons. I remember my father blessing me every night on the forehead before going to bed, telling me he loved me, and may God bless me and watch over me.
One of my father’s parables was about when he was young. He went to school with a girl named Eleanor Tatakein. One day Eleanor told my father that the word “I-F”, if, is the most powerful word in the human language. My father would tell me, “Son, you do not want to ever have to say “if” in your life. If I would’ve only done this, or if I would have did that. Those two simple letters can mean big things in life. Before my father passed he shared with me that he only had to “I-F’s” in his life. 1. Something he said to someone before deploying for Vietnam, in which that person never returned home, and 2. Telling my mother that he may not be around for their 50th anniversary. My father knew the power of words, and believed you only say what you mean.
The 2nd parable my father shared with me routinely, was a poem entitled the man in the glass. “Son, do you want to be the man on the inside looking out, or on the outside looking in?” I don’t want you to be me. I want you to be you. Do what makes you happy. Work hard. Life isn’t easy. You have to work twice as hard as everyone else around you if you want to be the man on the inside. Use your mind to do the heavy lifting. Not your back. I saw where my father worked. I can still smell the strong odor of epoxy and resin when I think of walking in that factory. He showed me what my options and future could be, provided me the tools and opportunities, and drove me to make the best decisions. He set his expectations with me that if I was to do something, there is only one way to do it, to the best of my abilities. Always. Don’t try cheating, because in the end, the only one you are cheating is the man in the glass.
My father left me with one last lesson that has taken me a while to completely understand. I recall him throwing a pebble into the water and told me to watch the ripples. He said, see, even though the stone is gone and is out of sight, it has the ability to send ripples and touch every single drop of water. Be the pebble. Make your life impactful. I was given the gift of listening. Not just listening to others, but more importantly, to listen to my own voice.
My father taught me to ignore the loud banter of my mind. The one that tells us we can’t do this, or are unable to do that, or we aren’t good enough. Instead, he taught me how to listen to the silent whisper of my heart. The whisper deep inside that only speaks to us when we silence the noise. To follow the whisper. Dare to dream. Dare to be different. If you can dream it, you can make it a reality.
I’ve listened to my heart and been able to impact the lives of 100’s of thousands of people. Which means that my father, in the pebble that is I, has impacted and touched all of those lives as well. My father experienced this first hand over the last 6 weeks. My mother and I moved him through a fragmented system to expedite his care. Yet when he said stop, we listened and ensured that his wishes were heard, acted upon, and that we executed. We simply listened.
My father is not gone from this earth. He is part of me, a part of my mother, and a part of every single person that he touched throughout his life. The more people we touch and impact, the more the story of my father is amplified and continues to live on. To wrap all of us in his love. To have a ripple effect and an impact on the world.
My father has physically left this world and moved on to a new book, with new chapters, to fill with new stories. My father is united with his maker, in eternal happiness. He gets to be reunited with his parents, his brothers and sisters, and other loved one’s. He isn’t hurting anymore. He isn’t suffering. He gets to be filled in eternal love.
We are not alone. I know my father will always be watching and protecting my family and I. I know in the middle of the night, if I place my hand over my heart, and as I begin to feel the thump thump in my chest, that if I listen closely, I will hear my father whispering to me. I know he will end every conversation with, “I love you and may God Bless and watch over you.”
I finished, looked up, and saw the many people crying. I looked at my mother. She was in tears. I walked back to the pew. We hugged. She said, “I love you. That was beautiful. Dad is very proud of you.”
More to follow…..
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM