Words from the Heart: Eulogy for My Dad

Original Madison Square Garden, where mom and dad met/Library of Congress (loc.gov)

Original Madison Square Garden, where mom and dad met/Library of Congress (loc.gov)

It took me endless hours to write because I wanted it to be perfect until one friend said, “You only need to make it real, honest and raw.” Thirty months ago today I read this to my dad, who was by then with us in Spirit.

“Hi Daddy,

You always told me to talk slowly, Daddy, so I’ll do my best, because while it’s hard to talk slowly, it’s even harder now. How to condense a lifetime into a few pages? Where do I start?

I could talk to you about anything, and you made life fun, so when serious things happened, you were easy to talk to. Like the time my nearly 12-year-old mind couldn’t understand something scary, and you patiently explained it to me.

You gave me your attention, and made sure I understood things. You taught me not to give up on my goals and dreams, and to do what I feel inside. You taught me to not be afraid, Daddy. I need to draw from what you taught me so I’m not afraid now.

You and mom filled the house with laughter and love, and music — Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Burt Bacharach, Henri Mancini, soundtracks from shows like Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, The Pink Panther (original, not the remake) — and took us to theater: Annie, Pippin, Chicago, Cabaret, Camelot, Little Shop of Horrors, Sweeney Todd. The list is endless.

You were such a good sport, Daddy, about everything. The time I made you rice pudding and forgot to cook the rice, you said it was delicious.

When Spence brought home a goldfish from Robin Hill, the next day you bought us an aquarium with more fish, sand, rocks, the whole shebang. You didn’t get angry when you found fish floating on the water because we overfed them accidentally. We were kids and kept watching them eat food we sprinkled into the tank.

A few weeks ago, I made a wrong turn going to the hospital. It was meant to be, since mom and I drove past that oh-so-big hill where you took Spence and me sledding. You taught me how to ride a bicycle, and how to drive a car, giving me independence. I felt your trust when you let me drive to school.

When I wanted to smoke as a teenager, you wanted to be sure I learned correctly, so you bought a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and said smoke in the house. I choked the first time I tried to inhale. That made you grin although you tried not to show it.

After I missed the college bus back to Oneonta, you walked with me through a blizzard to Scarsdale train station, and then rode with me to New York City so I could catch a bus to campus. A five-plus-hour trip from Port Authority.

There were pictures, lots of pictures, of family, vacations, tailgating parties. And then Spence and I took pictures of you sleeping. We kids thought it was funny, topped only by the time we put a tape recorder next to you while you were snoring. You thought it was funny, too.

The summer before your first stroke, nearly 10 years ago, you and mom wanted to go to Woodstock. So off we went. I have a picture of you standing on the balcony of the Woodstock Playhouse, happy to be with each other, smiling at the sun.

Daddy, you were a peacemaker with people at work, and friends, and you tried to do this within our family. An eternal optimist, you gave it your best, yet life isn’t always fair. You were positive even when things didn’t go the way you planned.

A few people said you’d be watching us from the moment you passed, and one cousin said you’d be upset to see us grieve. It’s OK, Daddy, I told you. That last week in the hospital, I knew you wanted to leave, and were getting ready. And like you took care of us, you wanted to help me with this, too.

You did, Daddy. Except I would never be ready.

When you looked at me during week before last, you questioned with your eyes, and I said it’s OK to leave, do what you want, that mom and I will be OK.

I hope your spirit is soaring in the great somewhere, and that you’re happy to see your childhood dog Buddy, and friends and other family. You had so many friends who loved you as I do, and we grieved with you when they left. It’ll be quite a party up there, Daddy, especially when you start telling jokes.

Last Thursday morning, after you left us, I bet — as you used to do after dates with mom — you lit a cigar, opened a window, and put on the radio for the ride home.

I hope you had a safe trip, Daddy. I love you.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

3 comments so far

  1. Amber Choisella on

    Just beautiful…. I too have to do the same for my Grandmother’s funeral next Friday but I just cannot even attempt to start it…. it’s HARD. I still talk to her and I know she’s with me in Spirit, but to talk about an existence that she’s no longer a part of, that’s difficult… Thank you for presenting this at this time, it is needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nykeypad on

      Thank you, Amber. I appreciate your kind words and understand how you feel. I remember writing and printing and reading it, tearing it up and writing again. At 11:30 p.m. I called a friend, who told me to write as though I’m speaking to him and not about him.

      Your grandmother is with you in Spirit, and knowing this may bring you comfort. Write as if you’re writing her a letter: write to her and tell her how you feel.

      Liked by 1 person


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