The following is the eulogy I gave at my Dad’s funeral in 1993. It’s been a while since I’ve read this, and it brings back both happy and sad memories.
I would just like to say a few words about my Dad on behalf of his family and friends. First off, I would like to thank Monsignor Carroll and Father Kane for being here today. It’s been a long time since I have seen them.
My Dad was a big man, both in physical stature and in the size of his heart. In his lifetime, he took on many roles.
The first was that of devoted son, which he proved by supporting his family after the death of his father at an early age.
I remember him in the role of a Daddy, coaching me in little league, supporting my pathetic attempt at football, and driving my sisters and me all over the country for swim meets.
I remember Saturday night sing-a-longs with Mitch Miller, shining our shoes together on Sunday morning before church, and Sunday night pinochle games.
I also remember little things like driving in the front seat beside him when we stopped suddenly. I then instantly felt a strong arm reach out to protect me.
I remember all the trips we made together. Disneyland, Niagara Falls, and Ireland. I remember the souvenirs that he and my Mom would bring back from their trips together, like a shillelagh from Ireland or a deck of playing cards from their cruise to the Bahamas.
I remember him as a Dad, teaching all of his children to drive in the parking lot at King of Prussia Plaza. I remember the time I thought I had finally learned to drive a stick shift, until coming home one night in tears because I had backed into a car while trying to get started on a little hill. Dad came into my room, put his hand on my knee and told me everything would be alright.
I remember the sacrifices he made, like working two full-time jobs while we were growing up.
I remember him as a father, offering his children advice about education and careers, and I will never forget the time he sold his beloved coin collection to help pay graduate school tuition bills.
I remember him as a teacher, teaching his children the value of hard work, honesty, love, and enjoying life.
What I best remember about him, and which was one of his favorite roles, was as Pop-Pop. He had an unending supply of love and patience and pride and a knack for being the only one some of his grandchildren allowed to change their diaper. I am so grateful that my children had the opportunity to know him, play with him, and love him.
I also remember the pleasure he found in ordinary things, like cutting the lawn, painting, fixing things, running errands, and going to breakfast at Burger King.
I also remember how he loved visiting my sister’s farm, going out to lunch with his friends from TV Guide, and going out to dinner with his brother and sisters.
The past few days, while they have been difficult, have also allowed me to learn more about my Dad. Our home has been busy with visitors sharing in our sorrow. I learned that he was a loyal friend, and the person relatives turned to when they needed advice.
I know my Dad was proud of his children and grandchildren. He had the chance to see all of his children complete their education and follow in his footsteps of raising a family and pursuing a career.
I was also amazed at the interest my Dad took in our lives. Not only did he know our friends’ names, but their children’s’ names as well.
My sister Patricia, somehow managed to earn a degree in nursing while raising four children, thanks to the support of my Mom and Dad. My sister would like everyone here today to remember a happy moment they have shared with our Dad, since he so enjoyed life and those who were part of it.
My sister Peggy, a teacher, wanted me to relate a conversation she had with her children this past week. When she told her children that Pop-Pop had died, her oldest son said that meant he was now in heaven. Her next oldest son then said it wouldn’t take him long to get there because he was so tall. She could not be here today because she just gave birth to her fourth son on Tuesday.
Another special person in my Dad’s life was his sister-in-law, my Aunt Eileen. he enjoyed her friendship and all the love she gave to us.
Last but not least was my Dad’s favorite role, that of husband. The most important person in my Dad’s life was his wife Peg, my Mom. They recently celebrated their 40th anniversary, and she told me that she has many pleasant memories to see her through this difficult, but glorious, time.
In closing, I would like to express a thought which I believe is shared by everyone here, “Dad, I love you.”
In the days afterward, many other memories came back to me: Friday nights watching the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the Odd Couple while eating pizza from Franzone’s; Dad walking to the P&W station when the roads were too icy to drive on so that he would not miss work; working on his cars every weekend with his neighbor; Dad sitting at the end of the aisle at church on Sunday mornings with his arms folded (no one was going to ask him to move in); breakfast at Harvest House restaurant after church; putting his tie around me when he got home from work and putting his cold hands against my face in the winter.
He was a great man, and I was lucky to have him as my Dad. Thanks for being such a great role model; I love you and miss you.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.