I had the honor of delivering an eulogy at my father’s funeral. So I don’t forget it, and for those of you who weren’t able to be there, I’m including it in the blog.
It took me a long time to understand my dad. When I was little, he was the source of all things exciting. Whether it was a late bedtime, rides on his shoulders through the house or in the pool, he was always there to make things special, or ‘spacial’ as he would call them. As a little girl it was fun to visit him while he was at med school in the Dominican Republic, or have a drop of the hat adventure to a ski lodge in Wisconsin. Because he loved the outdoors and adventures so much, it was easy to find things to do with him when he would visit wherever I happened to be living at the time. We went on all day hikes, kayak trips, runs, and long bike rides. He was my early inspiration to become a runner, and I credit the marathons I’ve run and my love of running to him.
I consider myself beyond lucky because not only did I have a father who adored me, loved me and was proud of me, he never tired of ways to tell me and show it. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t completely embarrass me on too many occasions to count, but looking back there is no doubt in my mind where I stood with my dad. When I was in little league and would go up to bat, dad would yell “sure Death’ from the stands. Embarrassing. A little later on when I was a cheerleader in high school, he would come to the games just to watch me cheer and video them. Sweet. When I ran my first half marathon, he came to Indianapolis to cheer me on. And when I ran my first marathon in Chicago, he waited at the half way point for hours scanning the crowd for me so he could run out and give me more bars to keep my energy up. Helpful. It took me a long time to get this last one, but when I finally figured it out a few years ago, it was so simple and so profound, the love that I felt from it made me cry. Whenever I was home, it was my dad’s joy to make omelets for breakfast, or beekees and eggs, as he would call them. He learned what I liked in my eggs, how I liked my eggs and always made sure to have the ingredients on hand when I was home. He would patiently wait for me to wake up and ask when would be a good time to make them. He got joy from making the breakfast and being able to sit down as a family to enjoy it. Joy. And finally, he never tired of talking about his kids, and later his grandkids, and sharing their news and fortune with others. If you look around his house and office space, it’s full of pictures of us growing up. Pride.
My dad was a goof. But he was a goof who loved to have adventures and was always happy to join on any adventure you planned. While he was in the hospital we shared lots of memories of my father. I think my aunt said it best: He was a maker and collector of memories. When I saw him in the hospital there was only one word I could think of- gratitude. I’m so lucky that I had 35 years of fantastic memories with my father and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he loved us fully and got to do everything he wanted by living life to the fullest. The real sorrow comes in knowing my four-month-old daughter won’t have the opportunity to experience the love he always gave so freely. Now it’s my duty to show her the unconditional love, playfulness and sense of adventure that her grandfather would surely have shown her. And if I can do that on a daily basis, then I’ll consider that truly honoring his memory, because I finally understand that those things were what his life was about.
Since I returned from New Zealand 5 years ago, my father and I have had an 8 am daily phone call. In recent months, I would call him as I was feeding the baby and he would delight in hearing her little baby noises. 8 am will be a very difficult time for a while to come, I imagine, but I’m so grateful that I got to speak with my father daily- I consider that the best gift he gave me. I love you, Poppy; I’ll miss you.