What is a Eulogy

Date:                           October 15, 2010


Location:                    Plattekill, NY




            I have written 2 eulogies in my life.  They may not have both been real eulogies in the truest terms, but they were both an attempt on my part to find a way to say a farewell to the pain and memory of a loss.  One was a story about my son who died all too very early and the other was an attempt to say good bye to my father after a long and full life but still it seemed too early for him to leave me.


            As I was attempting to do some normal catch up work this morning I ran across my little attempt at saying good bye to my father.  As I reread the page or two of memories I had complied for my father’s eulogy I first thought that I had really not done a very good job  There was so much more I should have said and I am sure I could have said it better if I had written it now.  Then it dawned on me that a eulogy is not about writing ability or talent it is about the emotion and trauma that you are living at the moment.  The few examples of my memories of my father were not meant to be a full recap of his life and his importance in my life.  It was just a very quick attempt at sharing, in public, a small bit of my farewell to the most important man in my life.


            It is not important that at this traumatic time in your life that you forget to mention every moment of importance.  It is important that the few seconds of a life that you are attempting to say good bye to in your writings be exemplary of the man he had always been.  Maybe sitting at a bingo table with a long row of cards is not important or meaningful to other people, but it was the man I knew and the picture I carried in my heart.  It might possibly have been because I never understood his love of the game.  Maybe a picture of an 80 year old gentle man nearly blind enjoying the color and sounds of a slot machine is not precious to anyone else.  But my father enjoyed that escapee from his normal life, and it was the promises of an excursion to the nearest Indian Casino that he took to bed that last night on this earth.  My last conversation with him that last day was about our planned trip.  Connie and I were on our way to visit my dad and we were going to find a way to get him to the casino for a few moments of ringing bells and flashing lights.  His infirmed condition be damned.  His happiness and joy were much more important.


            It was the last two moments of memory that I told about my father that really summed up his life from my perspective.  They were simple moments and almost too uneventful to be remembered.  One was the picture I had of my father getting his “special” pineapple cream pie from my wife.  The second was the image I carried in my heart of my father holding my granddaughter.  Both are simple moments in a long life and yet they seemed to capsulate my love for my father.  In one scene I saw him enjoy love as it was given to him and in the second scene I could stand aside and observe him giving love in such a warm and wonderful manner. A moment  that meant so much to him that he never forgot it.  The time that he held the youngest baby he had ever touched.  That bundle of love and joy had been my granddaughter.


            Eulogies are not meant to be award winning prose.  They are not meant to be an in depth study of a person’s life.  Today as I, again, read my attempt at a simple farewell a tear formed in my eyes and vision of love materialized in the form of memory as I pictured my father in better times with much better health.  From those simple words I had written under the duress of loss and pain I remembered more of my father than I had placed on paper.  The simple images I had portrayed on that original paper quickly were replaced with many deeper memories.  But still I remembered my father as a man that truly enjoyed being loved and, more importantly, truly enjoyed and loved his family.  I guess my attempt at a eulogy was not so bad after all.  Again, as I said the night before he started is long sleep and his short wait for me to join him; “Good bye dad, I will see you soon.”





Remembering Dad



            We gather today to pray for the soul of a man who, I am sure, has already entered the gates of Heaven. He now has joined my mother to spend the rest of eternity in our Lord’s presence.


            We gather today, also, to remember the man and through these efforts give him everlasting life here on earth, if only in our hearts and memories.


            If you knew my father, you already have your personal memories etched in your hearts.  Be it a picture of him sitting at a long table with many Bingo cards laid before him; or sitting at a casino playing the brightest slot machine.  Always playing it to the max because this is how you win the maximum by playing the maximum.  You might have a picture of him walking to the Central for lunch almost every afternoon.  When he arrived, the staff would have waiting for him a glass of water and a cup of coffee, because that is what he wanted.  He also would always have the dark meat of the chicken saved for him, for that seemed to always have the most taste in his opinion.


            You might also remember the Corning worker who ended his career as an inspector, but who is fondly remembered as the man who pushed the canteen through the plant for daily work breaks.  I am sure that everyone who knew my father will have their own snap shots of memories to reflect on as we sit here this morning.  Each of these personal memories is as important as the next because it is through these memories that we, who are left behind, will be able to allow Dad to live on in our hearts.


            Two of the fondest memories I have of my father are these:


            A picture of a man sitting at my sister’s dinner table with a large and bright smile on his face as his favorite pie was presented to him by my wife, Connie.  It was, of course, a pineapple cream pie.  The moment etches, in my heart, a smile and happiness that I would like to believe my father will enjoy every moment eternal as he waits with my mother for my arrival.


            The second picture is a moment in my father’s life that gave him such joy and pleasure that I must never let it be forgotten.  It was a simple moment.  It is a moment that might be lost if one did not place a small effort on remembering it.  It was simply my father holding my granddaughter in his arms.  Elizabeth, a baby of only 2 days, was in the arms of a man, at that time, of nearly 80 years.  Beth is special for many reasons in my heart, but most of all at that moment for being so little and the youngest baby my father had ever held.  He never forgot that moment and mentioned it to me many times and again on the last day that I spoke to him.


            I will remember those 2 joyful moments, 1 of receiving love and 1 of giving love, when I remember my father.  He was loved dearly and so deeply he gave love in return.


            As I said the last time I talked to him, the night before he ventured forth to meet my mother, I love you Dad and I will see you soon.