Monday, September 01, 2008

Eulogy

I first met M. when I was in junior high school. We began by studying geometry together and ended up best friends. That was thirty years ago, and although there have been times when we’ve been closer and times when we’ve been farther apart, we’ve pretty much stayed best friends. And from the time I first met M., I’ve known her parents.

One of the things that so closely bonded M. and I from day one was our parallel family dysfunction. My father is an alcoholic; her mother is an alcoholic. My mother served as an oasis of sanity and unconditional love in the chaos that swirled throughout our house; M.’s father was her oasis. Very quickly I came to love her father dearly. For the person that he was, and for the person he was that my father wasn’t.

M.’s dad was quiet, a private person. But there’s a reason the saying “still waters run deep” has become a cliché – it’s so often true. M.’s dad was like that. He might not say much, but he didn’t miss a trick. If you didn’t pay attention, you might miss one of his dry remarks – and that would be a shame because he was clever and funny. After a while I noticed that when M.’s dad spoke, the savvy people in the room would immediately shut up and listen to what he had to say. If you could get him to tell a story, you’d probably end up wiping tears of laughter from your face.

M.’s dad didn’t have a fancy childhood. He worked hard all his life, but in a matter of fact way, asking for no pity and expecting no accolades. He gave his kids a better life than he had and was proud of that. He saw his son and daughter go to college, not just go to college but excel there, and go on to have satisfying careers and comfortable lives. That meant a lot to him. He saw his two children get married to loving spouses, and welcomed three grandchildren and three granddogs into his life. I’m sure they were the light of his life. I’m sure it made it easier for him to leave this life knowing that his children grew up to be such impressive people: hardworking, responsible, family-focused, able to appreciate the small joys of life as well as the large, full of humor and irony – all the traits that I saw in him.

You may recall a few months ago, when I made a pair of Notre Dame-themed bed socks for Molly’s dad. He was a passionate Notre Dame supporter and felt a great attachment to his Irish roots. (I’ll never forget the time, about 15 years ago, when I had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV, and the phone rang, and I picked it up, and it was M’s dad, singing the Notre Dame fight song because Notre Dame had just beaten Michigan – my alma mater – in football.) M’s dad was a Fighting Irishman to the end: roots firmly planted in the soil, hardworking, spiritual, equally appreciative of the joy and the pain in life, stubbornly refusing to die except on his own terms.

I loved him and I mourn him.

11 comments:

meezermeowmy said...

Passings are hard - I'm so sorry. What a lovely tribute.

Liz K. said...

My sympathies, friend.

puffthemagicrabbit said...

That was so beautiful. Everything he instilled in his children will get them through this, and you, too. I'm very glad you had him in your life. And I'm so sorry he's gone.

Bridget said...

I'm sorry for your loss. But how lucky that you had him in your life. People don't have to be blood relations to be loved as such.

the hanged man said...

Beautiful eulogy, Carol.

I did not know Mr. M. as well as you did, but everything you wrote rings true. I have a great deal of respect for his quiet dignity in the face of what must not have always been an easy life. I know his health was quite bad at the end - may he now rest in peace.

Ann said...

Thank you so much for sharing this tribute. What a wonderful man. My deepest sympathy.

Emma in France said...

That was so beautiful. It sounds to me that he was also your Dad too because our Dads aren't always our fathers. It's wonderful that you had someone like that to show you what a Dad could be.

travellersyarn said...

You have written a beautiful tribute. I am glad that you had a man in your life to demonstrate the good that can be done by a father.

Carol said...

My sympathies for losing such a wonderful man. How lovely that he was a part of your life.

Emily said...

My sympathies. It sounds like you were blessed to have known him.

Franklin said...

I wish you and the whole family every comfort, dear lady. This is a beautiful tribute - he was obviously a wonderful man and the loss is great.

xoxo
Franklin