Once again, I feel compelled to share a eulogy here, this time in honor of my dad.

***

John was many things to many people — son, brother, uncle, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, boss, and friend.

He’s been called John, Jack, Mr. K, Kenny Rogers, and Santa Claus.

I called him Daddy, Dad, Papa-san, Papuchi, and Papa John.

He called me Deidre — oh, no, I mean Maureen. And Bean or BeanBean.

When I spoke at Mom’s funeral, I said she gave me three things: love of music, love of travel, and love of friends. Yes, so did Dad. They both were shining examples to us of what friendship should look like.

He also gave me love of books, stories, generosity, and sense of humor.

It is so rough, trying to cram decades of love and joy into a short speech. I will endeavor to do so more speedily and with a little less blarney than Dad would have.

His sense of humor? Well, he traveled a lot for business when I was a kid, and he’d often bring me home a little gift. Once he brought a barf bag from the plane. “Look what a great lunch bag! Totally waterproof!” I brought it to school, and when the kids made faces, I exclaimed, “Waterproof!”

I wrote in his obituary that he was a correspondent and even put pictures up of him writing postcards, because it was such a big part of who he was. He always sent letters and articles and clips to people. It was like his love language. It was practically like the scene in Harry Potter when the letters keep flying in to tell him he’s a wizard…they just kept coming. All through school, I was the envy of all my roommates and friends because I got so many letters. When I lived in Madrid, he’d send faxes to me through the nearby hotel. (Hey, that was high-tech in 1989.)

He once sent a card and a check for some spending money. He wrote “Happy Arbor Day.” I thought, “Cool.” A little while later, I realized the money was for an upcoming trip. My roommate said, “Duh. Did you really think he was sending you money for Arbor Day?” Well, yes. Yes, I did.

After I graduated, I’d sometimes house-sit for my parents when they went on vacation. I complained once, “Dad, you have all this wine, and I wasn’t sure what I could drink. I didn’t want to open something you were saving for a special occasion.” The next time I house-sat, he left a note on the fridge, “Wine for you under the sewing machine. Leftovers in the fridge. If you need anything else, look in freezer.” I rolled my eyes. Of course I’d look in the freezer if I wanted more food. A few days later, in search of ice, I found a glass with some money it — cold, hard cash, get it?  After that, it was our secret system: I’d house-sit and he’d leave me freezer cash.

Dad used to joke that the song he wanted played at his funeral was “Slip Slidin’ Away.” Unfortunately, that turned out to be a little too prescient. But even as Dad started to fade, his charm and his humor shone through — as did his pride and love of family. I’d go pick him up for lunch, and he’d tell folks, “I’ve got a date!” then he’d add, “It’s my daughter.” Then he’d turn to me and say, “I’m so lucky to have such a beautiful daughter. Noooo, I don’t mean Deidre.” And he’d laugh his joyous laugh and add, in all seriousness, “I have two beautiful daughters and a wonderful son. I had a great wife. I am a lucky man.” Until the very last minute he knew who we were and knew we loved him. Just as we always knew he loved us.

One of the very last things he said was, “Are we going out to eat?” So in his honor and in his words, “Let’s go grab a bite to eat.”

“Yes, let’s send Deidre a postcard!” 😀

2 Comments

  1. Maureen,
    What a wonderful tribute to your father. Having a hard to time writing, right now, too many tears running down my face.
    Your love and admiration is completely evident in your words. My condolences to you, and your family .
    Let’s plan a lunch, and get a bite to eat. Maybe, we can meet half way???
    -Karen

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