Monday, November 11, 2013

Eulogy for my Dad

For Dad's celebration of life I had the honor of giving his eulogy.  It's the first eulogy I've ever given and I have to say it was a daunting task (and I'm not very easily daunted).  I would gladly stand up in front of hundreds of people and read it, but first I had to write it and the task of trying to put into words how much Dad meant to our family was quite overwhelming.

I managed to put something to paper and practiced it a few times until I was pretty comfortable that I would be able to maintain my composure enough to get through it at Church.  However, that was before the actual day.  On the day of his service we had a viewing and immediately following the viewing was the mass.  The eulogy was given after we said goodbye to Dad and closed the casket but before the mass started.  What was I thinking?  Such a profoundly sad moment in my life and then right on the heels of it - literally less than a minute later! - I was tasked to deliver the eulogy before I even had a moment to gather my composure.  Let me just say that I think the timing required by the Church was much less than ideal and it should have come towards the end of the service.

I've been told that I gathered myself together quite well, but I don't know.  The only thing I know is that I tried my best to hold it together and honor my Dad.  

Here is what I had to say about my sweetheart of a Dad:

Good morning. 

I think most of you here know me but for those that don’t, I am fortunate enough to call Chris my Dad and I stand before you today not to mourn Dad’s passing, but rather to celebrate his life.  Dad packed a lot of living into the 83 years he was here and he touched so many people’s lives for the better.   The fact that so may of you are here today to say goodbye speaks volumes about his character. 

Many of you know him as the laid-back Irishman who always had a ready smile and a willingness to help a friend in need.   Dad was a man who loved his family, his home country of Ireland, a home cooked meal, a good party and the 4:30pm Saturday night mass.

Dad was a hard worker.  I have never met a person who worked harder than him and I’m pretty sure I never will.  I don’t recall him ever calling out of work sick even though there were times he should have, but I do recall his reaction when I was a teenager and decided to call out of work sick to go to a party.  Let’s just say I wound up going into work that day. 

Dad was a family man.  He had a soft heart and Maura and I quickly realized that if we wanted anything to ask Dad instead of Mom.  You see, Dad pretty much never said no to us.  Especially when we asked while cuddled up in his lap and his lap was my favorite place to sit when I was little.  Eventually, though, Dad started telling us to “go ask Mom” when we wanted something because he knew he couldn’t really say no to his girls.  And then he became a PopPop and it seems that he became even more soft-hearted when dealing with his grandchildren.  When I asked my daughter Julia if she thought I should say anything in particular about PopPop she asked me to tell everyone that he was the Best Pop Pop Ever and I think all his grandkids would agree with her.

Dad was a jack of all trades- I guess that’s to be expected since he was born and raised on a farm.  He could and did fix pretty much anything.  We didn’t always appreciate that about him for sometimes we were looking to get something new rather than mend the old, but once we bought a house my sister and I quickly realized what an asset it was to have a handyman Dad.  He was always ready and willing to come over and lend a hand to fix what was broken whether it was a washing machine, an electric outlet or an overflowing hot water heater we knew we could count on Dad.  Just recently he replaced a side view mirror on my car after someone tore it off.  The dealership wanted a small fortune to replace it but Dad came right over, found a barely used one at a junkyard in town and fixed it up good as new.

Dad was a good storyteller.  He loved to tell stories about when he was little and walked miles to school and church uphill both directions without any shoes.  He loved to recount how he single handedly built Heathrow airport during the time he lived in England.  He loved to tell how he would go to the Irish dances and that is where he met many of his friends here in the States.  I remember laughing a lot at the dinner table growing up for it was often there where he shared these experiences.  Dad was great at sharing his life stories with us and I wish now that I had gotten some of them down on video like I always meant to so my children could hear him tell the stories in his own voice. 

Dad showed his love freely.  He kissed us good night and said I love you before ending any phone conversation.  He taught us to pray, that it’s ok to make mistakes and to try and not take life too seriously.  After retirement he took over some household duties such as scrubbing the floor and helping with the dishes to give Mom a break. 

Before you think he was perfect I should say that Dad also had some quirks.  He loved to look at his reflection in the mirror, was immensely proud of the fact that most of his teeth were original issue and left all the packing and unpacking for overnight trips to Mom – something I don’t think is too bad considering Dad loved to match plaid with plaid. 

Dad set the bar high for he is the standard upon which I measure men.   Thank you, Dad, for loving us and for setting such a wonderful example of how to life a full and happy life.    I love you. 

2 Comments from readers:

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. Your dad looks like he was such a fun and lively character!

And I can't imagine he could have been more proud of anything in life than the amazing daughter he raised in you.

Unknown said...

Awww, sounds like he was a very sweet man...someone that many people could measure a man by and in this world, they probably should. You should write a book about him and include all the stories he used to tell.