This is the eulogy I delivered at my late father’s memorial service on October 5, 2021.
I have to be clear up front, writing this eulogy is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. How do I condense 79 years of a well-lived life down to a mere 5 minute speech? I could very well go on for hours and not even finish until early tomorrow morning, which would be quite a feat, even for me, and one that would break the rules at funeral homes all over the world.
My father was more than just a father, he was my coach, my mentor, my guiding light and the occasional source of pain on my rear end. It is difficult to narrow down who he was down to a single role, but I think his defining role in my life was that of a teacher. There were lessons in everything he did, so many lessons in fact that to this day I’m still absorbing what he taught me.
Thanks to my father, I have been to places I never thought I’d see and have done things I thought I’d never do. We went on vacations to Canada, the Bahamas and to some of the most scenic spots in the United States. He gave me my first dose of scuba diving and snorkeling, leaving me craving for more and carrying out that passion to this very day. He gave me a love of boating and the thrill of taking part in the beer can race aboard his M20 scow with the spinnaker sending us flying across the water if we didn’t tip over first. I didn’t know it then but I think my father was trying to show me small ways to live life to the fullest and to make the most of our time on this earth. There’s a big world out there with places to see and plenty to do, and my father did his best to show me these better parts of the world and get me excited about discovering more of it on my own.
One year when we went to SeaWorld, we were at the dolphin show when my father said to me, “I’m trying to light the fire under your ass.” That was a true motivational speech if there ever was one. I’m still grateful he didn’t mean it literally. But I’ve since learned the art of setting goals and getting myself motivated towards achieving them, no matter how big or small they were. And it was sure nice to have my father there encouraging me every step of the way.
There are so many other lessons my father taught me. Try to be better today than you were yesterday. Always be optimistic even when there’s nothing to be optimistic about. Having a sense of humor is a must. Become present with the moment during times of stress. But the most valuable lesson my father taught me was during some of the darkest hours of my life. I was out of work and feeling very discouraged. That’s when he introduced me to the Latin phrase, and pardon my Latin, “Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit”, meaning “Perhaps someday we will look back upon these things with joy”. He was right. As bad as things seemed at the time, they certainly don’t seem so bad now. Now I even see those dark days as time well spent.
Perhaps we can apply that same phrase to his life. Yes, we’re all sad of his passing, but at the same time, he leaves us to admire a legacy of an amazing life truly lived to the fullest, a life of the usual ups and downs, but with the downs replaced with joy and optimism along with humor to lighten things up. That was the approach my father took when he faced some of the more serious challenges later in life and while he may not have overcome them completely, he at least put up one hell of a fight that teaches yet another lesson in courage and persistence.
So during this time of our grief, let’s take the time to remember the joyful life my father shared and the lessons he taught to make better people of those who knew and loved him. May we forever recall his essence with smiles on our faces long after our tears have dried. Thank you.