Eulogy

It’s been 365 days now.

365 days of fun and fuckery, of love and hate, of life and death. Of things going terribly and irreparably wrong, of putting my best foot forward (without always knowing why or what for), and of things finally starting to look up.

365 days in which I was unable to share any of it with you. Being unable to ask you for advice (that I wouldn’t have taken anyway) or support (which I would’ve). I was unable, because even though you were “there” the whole while, you are still gone.

It’s been 365 days now. And I still miss you Dad.

as long as i'm singing

When I was a child, I remember occasionally have night frights that would awaken me, rigid with fear. I would then creep into my parents room, edging my way up to the corner of their bed, while looking intently at my dad’s chest. I would do so until I could confirm that it was rising and lowering with breath, and only then, would I be able to shake the fright and return to my bed.

A little over a week ago, I was reminded of this as I found myself doing very much the same. I stared intently at dad’s chest. This time not so much to confirm that he was breathing, but rather, because I knew it would only be a matter of time until he was not.

My dad was almost there. Almost home. And now he’s gone. His was a very small and private service, but he is…

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Sorry, just one more sad post (promise!)

Listen, he wasn’t the “Best Dad Ever,” and quite frankly, I hate when people say that at funerals. There was only ever one Best Dad Ever, and he was all but forgotten the moment his wife went ahead and invented the rosary.

So, he wasn’t the best ever, but he was mine. And now he’s not. Well, not “not,” but he is gone. Absent if you will. His likeness still sits there in the 11″ X 16″ budget-friendly (read: plexi face and plastic trim) frame that’s nestled in the corner of my bedroom. Sitting next to his wife with his back towards me, her arm draped over him as they sat one sunny day far and long ago, waiting with us for the Fantasy Island Wild West Show to begin.

At the time my three were much younger, and jacked up at the prospect that they would very soon be jacked up on the sugar from the cotton candy, which was promised to follow the show. They were jacked even further in the knowledge that with the show, they were about to experience some really real and honest-to-gosh shoot ’em up cowboy action, complete with guns a-blazing, fists a-flying and bad guys a-plenty being thrown from the roof of the local saloon.

Trust me, the show lived up to its reputation. The kids even received “honorary deputy” badges afterwards. Dad and I did not. Dad wasn’t upset by that, but I was.

The aforementioned picture was captured by C of course, as – had I captured it – it never would have become the moment it did. In it, they’re sitting and talking. About what, I’ve no idea. About what, I’m sure inconsequential. None of that matters now, does it? They talked, C captured the moment, the Wild West Show went on as scheduled. The picture was later 3 X 5ishly printed and placed on their fridge, where it has sat ever since, except for that one time I stole it in order to scan it.

We all enjoyed ourselves, and we can all regale in the experience today. Well, all but one of us. Because he’s gone, but that’s OK. For, like k~’s grandmother saying that she would be in a better place when she passed, I feel that dad is as well. Besides, he may be gone, but he’s not forgotten. And no matter how much he wished that he were, he won’t be. His impact on life was no less than the others who have left me this year. He counted. He counts still. He made a life that didn’t exist before him, a life that couldn’t exist without him.

So C sleeps, and I lie here staring at that damned picture, framed in cheap plastic. And I miss him again. Miss the pride he would’ve felt in knowing of our family expansion. Miss the advice he could have provided me in this endeavor. Miss just hearing his voice say “I’ll remember that!” every time I caught him with a verbal jab. I used to always respond with “no, no you won’t,” and he never did. I miss him; the man, the mentor, the bastard, the dad that I knew, the dad that I did love, and the dad that I still do.

Could I get rid of that picture, and save me some grief? I suppose I could. It’s only with me because it was a bum print intended to be given to my mom (don’t worry, she has the good copy) at dad’s funeral. But I don’t want to. I like being able to see him as I once did. Draped in mom’s arm, talking about something inconsequential before the start of the Wild West Show at Fantasy Island. I like being able to remember my dad as he was. As he will hopefully again someday be, and as I will hopefully again someday be able to see.

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So in reading back through this (you still can’t believe I actually proof-read these, can you?), I suppose that in the end it wasn’t such a sad post after all. Odd, considering the fact that I was literally bawling like a two year old who had just spilt their ice cream over a sewer grate the night I originally wrote it down. Possibly as my friend suggested, while I’ll never get over dad’s passing, maybe I am getting used to it. I hope so, almost as much as I hope that someday we’ll meet again he and I, some sunny day.

Ghosts found while sifting through my phone’s camera

They are both ghosts now.

He, because he stopped living. And she, because she continued to grow.

•••

Eulogy

When I was a child, I remember occasionally have night frights that would awaken me, rigid with fear. I would then creep into my parents room, edging my way up to the corner of their bed, while looking intently at my dad’s chest. I would do so until I could confirm that it was rising and lowering with breath, and only then, would I be able to shake the fright and return to my bed.

A little over a week ago, I was reminded of this as I found myself doing very much the same. I stared intently at dad’s chest. This time not so much to confirm that he was breathing, but rather, because I knew it would only be a matter of time until he was not.

My dad was almost there. Almost home. And now he’s gone. His was a very small and private service, but he is a man who needs to be known of. A man I want to share with you. I was blessed to be chosen to provide the eulogy for his service, and after the worst bout of writer’s block I have ever faced, here is what I finally decided to say:

My dad was not a great man. My dad was a Good Man. Great men quite often happen by mistake. Good men, always happen on purpose.

A while back, when dad went to Roswell for the initial biopsy of his cancer, I found myself having an afternoon tour of the facility with my mom. A tour that ended – not surprisingly – at the gift shop.

Now as you all know, dad is very much a “walk it off” type of fella – never one to show you when he’s in pain. But I still could tell on that day that he was scared. As a result, mom and I decided to buy him the only thing worth buying in the entire place – a novelty stuffed “Happy Pill.”

Just one little stuffed toy that, each and every time you squeezed it, would laugh manically for what seemed like minutes on end.

As many of you have told me, dad was a strong-willed man. A fighter. Some might even add “a bit of a grump”. As such, this Happy Pill was the sort of present that I thought would actually bug him after an initial guffaw, but instead, he took to it immediately. For whatever reason, in this one silly toy, he found a joy that visibly lifted him above the fray of whatever was going on at the time.

With its frantic giggle, he was able to envision the world as it could be. The world that he often told his grandchildren should be. A world that would result if, as he said while taping a video for Roswell Park “you did your best, and you’re leaving back hopefully some good memories.”

Over the course of his cancer experience, I was able to hear that maniacal squeal from time to time, and it always made my heart glad when I did. Not because of the thing itself, but simply because of the peace I knew it allowed for my dad.

Sadly, as his condition worsened, the toy was left more and more alone, and though still ever present, wholly silent. As in the end, dad was still surrounded by love, but Joy and Peace had to momentarily step out of the room, to allow for his passing.

Dad is now free from his earthly bonds. Joy and Peace are once again his friends, worry and doubt, vanquished from his new life. I believe that he is with our brother Jesus – who is most likely even right now asking him to stop gassing up the joint.

And dad’s Happy Pill? Well thanks to mom, it now resides with me. Now, I know that we will all remember my dad in our own way. But for me, I plan on making that silly little toy laugh in remembrance of him, a strong willed man, a Good man who – for at least a brief spell – saw the world as it could be. And as the memories he left behind are many, and good, I plan on doing so often.

And I will start today.

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