Death comes when you least expect it, and it comes elegantly. It has to be said that death is beautiful, powerful and seductive, I mean, why else would people die? The idea that death brings the life, well that is just overrated, and when people tell you that it will get better, or you learn to live with it, or the best one: death is the price we pay for joy, you want to punch them in the throat, repeatedly. Then it happens, and the glamor of funerals comes to play. Large floral arrangements, food, suits and music. A wedding, but chicer, because no one is absurdly drinking, and everyone is in black, and black is the best color according to Chanel. But, death steals time from us, then regret consumes us and leaves us with nothing. It is life shattering. It is the moment that people fear the most, and for some it might be the moment they have been waiting for, or finally waiting for… Death, this is what you have left me with.
I watched my father slowly slip away from life, his life and then I found myself sitting at his funeral, and a few days later his memorial. I listened to all these people say the most charming things, and say the most wonderful things about the man who raised me. Unfortunately, that isn’t the father I knew. I never played basketball with my dad, and I never really cared for religion, because his work always took him away from our family, I wasn’t fond to hear is colleagues say how great of a guy at work he was. All hours that could have been mine, regrets.
Regret is the flaw of the great design. Regret is the only thing that keeps us stuck in a place where we can’t move on, so dealing with death comes the reality of regret. I wasn’t close to my dad like my sisters were, but in a way I owe him everything. It is no secret that my father and I shared very different opinions about everything, and with that came heated fights, and many lost years. The majority of my adult life I spent hating my dad. It wasn’t until recently, my Dad and I became close, even friends. I spent hours, days at the hospitals, and even took a trip to Minnesota to take is case to Mayo. Somehow, that trip was my Dad’s last gift to me, as before I booked it, he told me that he wanted me to be happy when handing over his credit card.
My dad and I, our relationship was no longer father and son, but more like friends. We spent a lot of time together in hospitals, waiting around. When I was told my dad didn’t have much longer, we promised each other not to tell anyone in the family. Except I immediately broke down and told my mom’s best friend, in a way I feel burdened her, and my best friends who immediately knew what this would be the hardest holiday season. The next day, I decided to interview my dad. That is what I do best, find the stories in life, find the beauty in everything and most of all, letting people see the world the way I see it. So here, better late then never, I write my eulogy for my dad.
Every great man leaves behind a legacy, and my dad was a great man. He knew exactly who he was, and never strayed from his identity. I think that is something that most humans fall into fault with, always questioning their existence, their purpose and their place in life. My dad, had devoted his entire life to religion, to his country and to his family. In the anger of my grieving, I was furious at all three of those things. Religion robbed me of my father, his country robbed me of time, and my family was just a painful reminder of what we had just lost.
One of my favorite novels of all time is Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, opens with a madeline cookie, and how one thing can flood a person’s memory and take them back into memories, or lost time. I have been constantly searching for everything, anything, and something that would heal my heart, and take away the pain. I scoured through all of my jouranals and entries made at the hospitals, recordings of my dad’s voice, and so on. So, in my search to make up for lost time, in these moments where I am left with what feels like nothing I remember that on December 27th, 2013, he told me everything I would ever need to hear. Then, I become thankful for the legacy that he left behind. His legacy, his life’s work, reminds me of everything that my dad was.
His legacy was his children, the twelve of us, standing, living, breathing reflections of who he was. My siblings remind me, that life does go on, and we live on, because my dad’s legacy wasn’t his career, or wasn’t his religion, it was his investment in us.
My brother Matt is my Dad’s walk and faith in religion,. Amanda is his strong personality. Jessica is my dad’s comedy. Leena is his tough will and love. Rebecca is my dad’s sensitive side. Adam is my Dad’s diligence. Sarah is his compassion. Peter is my dad’s goofiness. William is my Dad’s love. Johnathan is definitely my dad’s manly side. Joseph is my dad’s blessing. And my mom is my Dad’s other half. So, on these lonely nights or really difficult to get through days, I remember and tell myself I didn’t lose my Dad, he just left me with 12 pieces of him and I get to put them together every day, to somehow make sense of why he is gone.
And so, as this comes to an end, as this chapter ends, when a son loses his father, I hope that my dad was right and that one day I will become a great dad. Then I will get to pass on who I am to my kids, so that when the cycle of life repeats itself, my kids will be the reflection of everything that I was and am, and that my investment in them, and my faith in them, and my molding them, will somehow make up for what they will have lost.