Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

This is the second Father's Day since my dad's death. I think about my dad every single day and know that I always will. As I was thinking about Dad today I wanted to write something about him on my blog but just couldn't find the right words to express what I'm feeling. So instead, I'm posting the eulogy that I gave at Dad's funeral. Happy Father's Day Dad. I love you.

I'd like to share a few things about my father but first please allow me to read a short poem that my father's sister Betty shared with me. The poem was written in 1996 by Dad's cousin Peggy Nash Galbreath and is titled “We'll meet tomorrow”

Although it isn't easy to release our loved ones to eternal peace
We trust their soul to the Father's care and know that eternity one day we'll share.
A good-bye kiss when they depart, memories are left within our heart.
Their spirit released. free as a dove; in perfect bliss, now one with love.
The ending of pain - fear, grief and sorrow, in that better place where we'll meet . . .

My father was a family man and my mother, Pat, was his first and only love. He was a faithful and devoted husband to her. Dad had unconditional love for each of his children and grand-children and wanted nothing more than to see to it that we were happy. He celebrated our successes but even more important he always seemed to know exactly when we needed an encouraging word.

My father never gave up on any of us no matter how many times we erred. He believed in each us – even when we had doubts about ourselves. He wanted each of his children and grandchildren to meet their full potential and was always there to help us through any challenges we faced along the way.

My father was man of deep faith. He was active here at St. Ann's and truly loved being an usher. He was very passionate about his Catholic faith and was never shy about sharing it with others – but always in a non-threatening way. My father considered himself a behind a scenes kind of guy. He was never one who liked to be in the limelight. He just looked around for things that needed to be done and did them without seeking credit.

My father had a BIG BIG heart. He was the most caring and compassionate man I've even known. He did many kinds deeds, often for strangers - and usually always with little or no fanfare.

My parents both grew up going to Saint Ann's. Mother shared with me that her and Dad saw each other for the first time right here in this church. Mother and Dad were married at St Ann's 49 years ago. In fact, they would have been married 50 years this September. Although they moved around a lot throughout the years and attended many different parishes they came back home to Saint Ann's about fifteen years ago.

Many of you here know that my dad was a huge Notre Dame football fan. On Saturday afternoons during football season Dad would start getting himself ready for the game about an hour before kickoff. He had to have his chair positioned just right, his cup filled up and there on the table in front of him, the ringer on the phone turned down so it wouldn't ring during the game, but most important he had to get into the right mental frame of mind. Dad was convinced that we could affect the outcome of the game if we all channeled positive thoughts – which he referred to as cosmic rays. We learned at a young age not to talk about other things or say anything negative about the Irish during the game. My brother Steve and I have always been avid Notre Dame fans. We kid with each other that there was no way you could grow up in our father's household and not be an Irish fan.

Baseball was another of my father's passions. He enjoyed listening to the Royals every evening on his transistor radio. He played baseball throughout his younger years. He also played for the Knights of Columbus fast pitch softball team and was quite a third baseman.

My father had a great sense of humor. He always tried to make people laugh. My sister Lori shared with me that no matter how down she felt Dad always had the ability to cheer her up and make her laugh. My sister Suzy shared with me that the week before he passed away - when he saw her sad - he cracked a joke to cheer her up.

Dad liked to play around and sing in a Tiny Tim voice just to be funny. One day a friend was over at the house and Dad started singing in that awful falsetto voice. I was outside and didn't even realize what Dad was doing. About a week later, my friend asked me if my Dad sang out loud at mass. I said why do you ask? He said “well no offense but while you were outside the other day your Dad started singing and I have to say he has the worst singing voice I ever heard.” I immediately burst out laughing and explained that that wasn't his real singing voice. I still chuckle when I think of how my friend thought that he really sang that bad. Dad got a kick out of it too.

Dad was known for being quite a talker. He could go on for hours about any subject if given a chance. He found it difficult to answer a yes or no question without going into great detail. He was also very outgoing and had the ability to engage total strangers in conversation. He had a number of friends and he valued each of one of them in his own special way.

My father was always thinking of others and their well being. My Uncle Augie would usually drive my father out to the cancer center and sit with him while he received his chemotherapy. Dad noticed that a lot of the patients that would sit alongside him receiving treatment looked unhappy. One day in the car on the way to the treatment center, Dad told Augie “Our mission is to cheer the patients and nurses up.” And they proceeded to do just that.

I can honestly say that my father was my hero. He has always been an inspiration to me - but especially towards the end of his life when he faced tough challenges yet kept up his cheerfulness and positive attitude.

My father was also my best friend and confidant. If I ever had a problem or needed advice I knew that I could talk to him and he would understand. Although sometimes he would tell me something I didn't want to hear, I trusted his judgment and knew that he always had my best interest at heart.

Dad taught me many valuable life lessons and I'd like to mention just a few. One, he demonstrated by example to give of yourself freely without expecting to receive anything in return. Second, he used to always remind me not to take things too seriously – he believed that if you always try to do the right thing, things would have a way of working themselves out. Third, he taught me that the best things in life really are free. Although he didn't have a lot of material possessions, I believe that my father considered himself truly blessed since he was filled with faith and was surrounded by family and friends who loved him.

In closing - Dad - I just want to say thanks for always loving me, believing in me and being the best Dad a son could ever have. I love you very much and am proud to be your son. I'll miss our nightly chats but I know that you will always be with me in spirit. May you rest in peace with God.

My father's grandson, Thomas, would now like to say a few words about his grandfather.

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