Thanks to Krystal Clear Book Reviews for the great review. 🙂
Monthly Archives: March 2014
I gave the eulogy at my Dad’s funeral today. Thought I’d post it for anyone who couldn’t make it or might be interested in reading it. It was important for me to do it because I wanted people to hear about what kind of man he was. Most of the people there knew him anyway, but I just find that catholic services almost always say little to nothing about the person they are there to celebrate, and so I decided to speak. Here’s what I said:
In life there is a difference between being rich, and being wealthy. I learned this lesson at an early age. Albert was my grandfather, but he raised me, and I always called him, ‘Dad’. Dad knew the difference between richness and wealth, even though he never spoke a single word about it. He didn’t have to, he lived it. Growing up we certainly weren’t rich, but we always had everything we needed. My dad was strictly a blue collar, working class kind of guy, but the lessons he taught me between the value of richness and the value of wealth is this:
Rich is owning a new car….wealthy is owning an old car and having people drop what they’re doing to help you come fix it.
Rich is having a big beautiful house…wealthy is having a home filled with people who are so familiar to you that they don’t even bother to knock when they drop in.
Rich is going on a fancy vacation to a tropical place…wealthy is walking into Tim Hortons, and even though each and every table is occupied, you know people so well that you can just sit anywhere and people are always happy to see you.
My Dad had all these things. He had them in spades. At the end of our lives, all we really leave behind are the relationships we have with one another and from my Dad I got an inheritance of kindness, compassion and community service.
One of my favorite movies is called: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In that movie a character named George Bailey is despondent and in need of help, and is so beloved that the entire town comes out during a cold winter night to rescue him. My Dad quite often went out of his way to help people who were down on their luck, even though he may not have had much to share. At the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey’s brother raises his glass and says, “Here’s to my brother, George. The richest man in town.”
Well, Dad, you may not have been rich, but you were the wealthiest human being I’ve ever met. So, here’s to you. Here’s to Albert. The wealthiest man in town.
It’s Monday March 17th. Three thirty in the morning to be exact, and I am not asleep and have not had good sleep for days and days, so although I’m making this blog post, and yes I’m a writer, the grammar and whatnot will probably be craptastic, so please, forgive me.
The last couple of weeks have been a tornado of doctors, hospitals, tears, worry and fear. You see, my grandfather has been living with us for the last four years. The last year or so his health has been tenuous to say the least. We made several trips to the emergency room, spending many nights on hard uncomfortable stretchers while he was poked and prodded with needles and IVs, all the time asking when he could go home. He was 81 and suffering from Congestive Heart Failure along with COPD and Emphysema, among other things.
I grew up in my grandfather’s home and he was ‘Dad’ to me. He was the father in my life. I was thinking about it in the last few weeks and in all that time I can’t remember him ever really saying an unkind word to me. He had a sweet and gentle nature, even when terribly ill. A nurse who had been poking and prodding him for hours once remarked to me, “He’s an agreeable little fellow isn’t he?” I laughed. “All his life,” I said.
Two weeks ago he, for the first time ever in his life, did not get out of bed for two whole days. He wasn’t eating or drinking either. We called an ambulance to transport him to the hospital because he was too weak to get in a cab. This wasn’t the first time we’d had to do this, and honestly, when they took him out that day I was sure he’d be back, just like every other time. Turns out this time was different.
A few days ago the doctors let us know that there was no recovering this time. Basically his body was wearing out and they would focus on ‘comfort care’. In the back of my mind I guess I knew this was going to happen, but still, it’s a shock to hear it. It’s hard to imagine the one person who’s always been there for you without hesitation or judgement will just be gone. But that’s just what happened.
Tonight, at around seven o’clock, I held my Dad’s hand as he passed away. That may sound awful, but you know what? It really wasn’t. We were alone, and I turned up the heat to make the room was toasty warm just the way he liked it, and I had made sure to keep the door closed all afternoon so he could have quiet. In that little room in the stillness it was just he and I as he took his last breath and slipped away from this world. It may sound crazy but it was as peaceful and beautiful as the birth of any baby. Although my eyes hurt from crying and my head and heart ache, it really hasn’t been the worst day of my life. It’s actually been one of the best. I’m so lucky and grateful that I got to be there for it. It was truly a privilege. My mother worked in nursing homes for many years and often told me it was, but I didn’t truly understand that until now.
After he passed away I didn’t call the nurse in right away. I sat and talked to him for fifteen minutes or so and just kept holding his hand. In your life many people will love you, but if you’re lucky, nobody will love you quite like your Dad, and indeed, I was incredibly lucky.
Thank you Dad, for everything. Especially for doing all the things you didn’t have to do like raise a child that wasn’t even your own. Not for one minute did you ever make me feel like a burden or a problem, even though the horrible bouts of my illness, you still only just loved and cared for me. You were a true gentleman, and a human rarity, and I’ll love and miss you for the rest of my life.