A Eulogy for my Father.

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.

Remembering my father.

On Sunday, September 26, my father passed away after years of declining health. Since then I have been numb with sorrow, my appetite gone and my anxiety and stress at unbearable levels. This week is going to be the hardest one of my life as I prepare to move on without my father beside me and cheering me on, whatever my ambition may be.

Tomorrow I will be delivering a eulogy at his funeral service so what better way to collect my thoughts than doing a blog post from the heart as I dig through years of memories of my father. Writing the eulogy was very difficult for me. Delivering it will be even harder.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my father is his quirky sense of humor. He loved to make people laugh, friends and strangers alike. He had a real talent for walking up to total strangers at the store and chatting with them as if they were lifelong friends. I swear, if he hadn’t worked as an engineer, he would have made one heck of a comedian. I remember one year we were in Chicago at my grandmother’s wake service when my father leaned over to me and said, “You know what I’d like people to hear people say at a funeral? ‘Look, he’s moving!'” He admitted then it was a bad joke but it did much to lighten the mood. That’s what kind of person he was.

And how could I forget his love of boats. I think his tenure with the Merchant Marines ignited that passion. After my father got married and moved to Connecticut to start a new life with his new family, he took up sailing on his trusty Hobie Cat sailboat. After we moved to Florida he bought a power boat he named Second Wind. On Sundays he would take the family out on the boat where we would have a picnic on one of the nearby islands and put in plenty of swimming. One year we went on vacation in the Florida Keys and took the boat from Juno Beach all the way to Key Largo. What a memorable trip that was.

Not long before he retired he bought himself an M-20 Scow, a very fine racing sailboat. We would spend our Saturdays racing other sailboats in Stuart during the weekly beer can race. When the wind caught our sails just right, no one could catch us. I learned so much about sailing from my father and always looked forward to going sailing with him.

Thanks to my father, I got to see some of the most scenic places in the United States and Canada. He would plan family vacations that would later fill pages of photo albums and dominate conversations at the dinner table for years to come. Even towards the end my father was talking about making a return trip to Montreal, one of our favorite places to visit. He really had a desire to see as much of the world as possible, and I hope to continue that desire myself.

I could go on and on about how my father enriched my life with his wisdom and humor. He could be difficult at times, but lessons aplenty were learned albeit the hard way. Towards the end my relationship with him improved to the point where I consider ourselves parted on good terms.

And now here I sit, one week after his passing and the reality still sinking in. It’s never easy losing someone so close to you but I know that someone, somehow my father continues to watch over me and cheer me on. After all, his work shall never be done.

In loving memory of my father Withold John Brazinskas (June 7, 1942 – September 26, 2021)

Riding your breath.

I recently had an interesting dream in which I sat on a bench-like seat that rose to take me to an overhead video screen where I watched a short movie. I don’t remember too much about this part of the dream but I do remember what happened next.

At the end of the movie, I heard a voice say, “Here’s how you’re breathing right now.” All of a sudden the seats were either going up or down, depending on our breathing. My seat would ascend when I inhaled and descend when I exhaled. I remember exaggerating my breathing to give myself a little bit of a bumpy thrill ride.

Since having that dream I’ve been paying more attention to my breathing as far as bringing myself into the moment of mindfulness. Often I think of how that ride feels with respect to my breathing. Am I going up and down smoothly or is it a bumpy ride? I imagine my ride is mostly bumpy with my shallow, panicked breathing during my anxious moments.

How interesting that our dreams can sometimes teach us such valuable lessons to use during our conscious hours.

In memory of Maximillian.


As Hurricane Irma raged through Palm Beach County, I was with my family at my mother-in-law’s house, monitoring the progress of the storm and witnessing the nasty weather unfolding outside. Then I was faced with the unspeakable task of taking her dog Maximillian for his afternoon walk. I borrowed a raincoat and braced myself for one soggy walk. The weather outside was horrific with the rain and very strong winds leaving leaves and small branches all over the street. Needless to say, I was quite miserable, but Maximillian on the other hand loved it. He had always enjoyed the water and this time was no different. He didn’t seem to mind the nasty weather in the least. I think there’s a lesson here somewhere, something about your attitude defining the experience. You can either be miserable because of the weather or you can exalt in it.

Maximillian passed away earlier this week, leaving behind a treasure trove of memories of good times and a life lived to the fullest. That walk during Hurricane Irma is my favorite memory of our time together. I will miss him.

My digital diary.

Back in the 1990’s when floppy disks were the norm, I had one set aside that served as a digital diary of sorts. It contained text files containing my innermost thoughts and fears (such as getting drafted for the looming Gulf War) along with programs I wrote in various programming languages, including TI-BASIC.

Here’s an unabridged entry I wrote that describes an incident that took place while walking the dog at Tequesta Park in Tequesta, Florida. It also contains advice on how not to impress the ladies.

7-16-93 10:01:31 pm
Today I took Max for a walk at Tequesta Park. I walked over to the swings to play. I saw two women who were also at the playground with their kids. In the mood to impress them, I got on one of the swings and began to swing. Higher and higher I went. I soon was swinging high enough to almost fly off the seat, but I still continued going higher. Then, the swing went so high that I floated above the seat and began to fall, all while I held on. I landed back on the swing so hard that the seat broke and I slammed on the ground with my butt. My glasses flew off from the impact. There I was, lying on the ground, wondering why I wasn’t in pain. I rose to my feet.

Then one of the women asked me, “Are you okay?”

I said, “Yes, I’m okay, but I am a bit shaken.” I then began blowing sand off my glasses before putting them back on. I then walked away from the swing, never feeling better in my life.

Ziplining at Icy Strait Point.

Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska.

The single most memorable excursion on my vacation to Alaska was going ziplining at Icy Strait Point. This was my first time on such a ride and I was a little nervous but at the same time was excited about it.

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Should I or shouldn’t I?

The excursion began with a bus ride through the neighboring city of Hoonah, a seaside community small enough where everyone knows each other. It has its own post office, school and a general store whose motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Then the bus began its bumpy climb up the mountain on one dirt road after another. At least the driver had enough of a sense of humor to announce that everyone was about to receive a complimentary back massage. Finally, the bus reached the top of the mountain, and from there it was a short walk down a steep trail before I arrived at the zipline. The mountain was high enough for me not to see the ground without the clouds in the way.

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Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

The ride has 6 cables to accommodate 6 riders at a time. After the riders are strapped into the specialized chairs and given safety instructions, they are sent plummeting along the side of the mountain, descending 1,330 feet with speeds up to 60 miles per hour before the ride ends less than two minutes later.

But what was it like? Not scary in the least, not by my standards. Although the ride is fast, the descent is smooth and the view spectacular. At once you can feel what it’s like to be a bird in flight high above the trees. I could use my arms to adjust my view of the surrounding area but it felt wonderful to be alive and so free as I have never felt before. Never mind that it was cold and rainy, never mind that I got rain on my goggles, never mind that I got wet, this was truly a thrill of a lifetime. I’d do it all over again, rain or shine.

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Woot.

My amazing mind.

[An entry from my old journal book, presented here unaltered, unabridged and uncensored.]

An article in Woman’s Weekly said that 1 in 6 Americans have a 6th sense – psychic senses. I have this sense as well as ESP. Here are some incidents to prove it. They are not in order, but categorized for easy reference.

  • The earliest known experience I know of was the time I was a bagboy at Publix. I was bagging groceries when I started visualizing a little boy’s face. A few seconds later, I saw the same boy enter the store.
  • Another time I was working, I wanted to get a piece of bubblegum. So I went over to the gum machine and put the dime in, and visualized a pink gumball that would come out. It did.
  • My abilities are linked with radio waves, which controls my mind. I was cleaning my room when I started thinking of a tune called “Causing A Commotion”. I went over to the radio and turned it on, and heard the same tune.
  • More recently, the radio experience came back to me. This time I was expecting it. I asked myself, “What song is on right now?” Song titles flashed through my mind until I decided on “One More Try” by George Michael. I was right.
  • My first experience in ESP took place when I was driving to jogging class. I stopped at an intersection behind a huge truck who was blocking the traffic light. After a while my foot headed for the gas pedal. The light had changed green the very second it happened.
  • I was looking through TIME MAGAZINE when I saw the People section, a department dedicated to newsmakers. On the page, I saw a picture of a girl. I was immediately thinking of a tune called “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany. The second I looked at the caption, the picture was indeed of Tiffany.
  • June 17, 1988. When I stopped by K-mart to pick up my check, I had a shocking experience about what someone was going to say. As I was parking my car, I said aloud, in a feminine voice, “The checks will be in at 4 o’clock.” I was right about the time!

 

A freewriting experiment.

I’m going to try something different with this post. Instead of agonizing over what to write about, I’m just going to type away and stop only when I’ve reached the 500-word limit. Well, WordPress doesn’t have a limit on the number of words in a post, but 500 words should be enough for a few minutes’ worth of reading anyway.

I still don’t know what to write about but already I’m on the second paragraph, so things seem to be going according to plan. I could write about my job but I really don’t want to turn this blog into a diary. Rather, I want my blog to serve as a digest of my literary creations, be it a poem or a short story. Not do I want to express any political opinions, although I certainly have strong feelings about the state of things in Washington right now, but I won’t go there either. Again, the strong emphasis is on my poetry, stories and miscellaneous thoughts.

Wow, this is going better than I thought. Already on the third paragraph and the words just keep flowing. I could write about the weather or my plans for the day but for now I want to cast all those boring thoughts aside and just write as fast as my fingers can type. The funny thing is, that when I started this post, I had no idea what I was going to write about but a few minutes later the post is filling up nicely.

When I was in high school, I took creative writing as an elective course as I thought I’d have some fun with it. I’ve always enjoyed writing as a way of expressing my thoughts and to let out some steam at the same time. One of the things I learned in class was freewriting in which I just pick up my pen and write whatever comes to mind, and along the way, ideas start popping up and my case of writer’s block is instantly solved.

Lately I’ve been short on ideas for what to write about in this blog so it was time for me to do a freewriting experiment to keep things going. I just renewed my domain for another year and if I am to get my money’s worth I need to keep it updated with fresh stories and thoughts. There will certainly be more of that along the way.

Or perhaps I could go through the 17 saved drafts I have and see what I can do to finish those and get those posted for the world to see. Too often I feel I’m too busy to just sit down and write for a few minutes, let alone work on those drafts to completion. There;s been too much on my mind lately with work and money matters, but I cling to the hope that I could possibly utilize my writing talents to ease my financial woes a bit.

And I still have those unfinished novels I’d like to get published someday and get my name up there with the literary greats. I need only the time to work on them and get them submitted.

Well, I’ve exceeded the 500 word limit and looking back, I think I have another fine post for the world to read. There were times when I paused to ponder my next sentence but other than that the words came out virtually nonstop.

This concludes my freewriting experiment. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Your Shadow and you.

While reading the ground-breaking book The Tools, I had a rare spark of creativity while reading the chapter on the tool that uses my Shadow to boost my self-confidence. According to the book, my Shadow is a physical manifestation of all my negative traits that emerge whenever I talk with someone whom I find difficult or intimidating. These traits can also emerge whenever I find myself speaking to an audience. The book has me focusing not on these people but on my Shadow to channel its presence so we both work together instead of against each other.

And when me and my Shadow both drink a bottle of Diet Coke, my burps will come out twice as loud.

The cool side of curiosity.

One of my favorite radio stations is WKGR (also known as The Gater) which specializes in classical rock music. One day as I was listening to a song I was particularly fond of, there was a short interruption in the signal that briefly took the station off the air. Later the DJ came on and said there was a problem with the transmitter in Martin County that got fixed, so he replayed that same song.

I’ve since become aware that the radio station itself is not far from where I live here in West Palm Beach, and I’ve even driven past it numerous times. On the building itself are logos for some of the other radio stations that serve my area. That got me curious about where the DJ’s work. For years that curiosity kept nagging me until finally I decided to send an e-mail to the afternoon DJ to put to rest this nagging question once and for all.

I have a question that’s been nagging me for quite a while. Years ago I remember hearing you say that the transmitter for the Gater is in Martin County, and I know the radio station itself is on 45th Street. It does look like a rather small building for the radio stations serving our area. I keep thinking it must be crowded in there! Is there a separate location where you DJ’s broadcast from?

Later on that same day I got this response.

Actually our building is huge. There are 50 desks (not all occupied) in the sales area. We have 6 on air studios, a giant bullpen, 10 bathrooms, manager’s offices, on-line too. Call me and I’ll give you a tour sometime.

Even better, the DJ gave me his phone number. I’ll take him up on his offer for the tour of the station as soon as I find some time in my busy schedule. Finally, I’ll get to meet one of my favorite DJ’s in person.

It’s cool to be curious.