Eulogy – November 13, 2004

My youngest son is making a documentary for a college film class.  He chose to make a five-minute short on his Grandpa.

Last weekend, I was making a trek home, so he tagged along so he could film an interview of Grandma, detailing some of her stories about their life together. I never knew my Dad was a grave-digger.  Imagine that.

And earlier this week, we took some stills and set up my Dad’s 8mm movie projector. Chris wanted to use some of his childhood movies for his project.  His buddy Henry also contributed to the score. Henry can certainly tickle the ivories.

Then on Thursday night, as I was about to start another chapter in a book I was re-reading, I found this.  Tucked in the front. Under the inside fold of the cover. Never noticed it when I first started. I don’t remember how it got there.  But I do remember writing it and reading it almost 10 years ago.

Coincidence?

Just someone’s way of remaining anonymous.

“After my Dad passed away, and we held a “re-birthday” party in his honor that night in my brother’s home, we regrouped and went forward with preparations to lay Dad to rest, memorialize him in some fashion and hopefully find some answers or meaning in all of it. 

One way we wanted to memorialize Dad was through photographs. If we could find pictures of him, throughout his life, that captured his essence, perhaps others would be able to see him as we knew him. 

Well if you know my Dad, you know that he always had a camera at gatherings, games, holidays, birthdays or whatever the festivity. I think his camera was actually like an extra appendage. Unfortunately, the flash unit wasn’t as attached to Dad, falling into various cakes, relish trays or main dished on more than one occasion. 

Dad’s archive of photographs and slides could probably rival the Smithsonian and the Louvre in sheer volume.  I started to go through some of the boxes in his “studio” and Glenn started looking at the CD’s that Dad had burned to store literally decades of pictures.  

What struck me through out this search, besides the horrific fashions of the 70’s and how much hair I had at one time, was the minute amount of pictures that were of just Dad. It was like trying to find Waldo.  Glenn did the bulk of the searching; sorting though over 4000 pictures to find those gems that are on display this morning: 

The little boy with blond hair on his head and mischief in his eyes in Kenosha. 

The young accordion virtuoso in baggy pants. 

The bride and groom on their wedding day with their whole life in front of them. 

The same bride and groom through out their life together. 

Christmas Day. 

Proud Papa.

Loving Grandpa.

Making a horrific 70’s fashion statement. 

Antlers.

Proudly affirming that “Doc” was indeed a “Quack”.

Being truly “bad in plaid”. (Though Dad probably never even made that distinction; “…sorry Dad!”) 

I think for the most part, these snippets of Dad capture what most will remember about him and offer a fitting tribute to his life. 

I mentioned earlier that we had hoped to also find some answers and meaning to this stage in his life and ours. I would like to share what I think is one answer I discovered looking through a lifetime of photographs.  

I think dad preferred to be behind the camera, because the focus of his life was what was in front of him, his family. He didn’t want to be the center of attention, and I would hazard a guess to say that he would be uncomfortable listening to us offer our thanks and gratitude to him today. 

He did not want to get in our way, preferring to let us figure things out on our own; experience being the best teacher and harbinger of wisdom. He did not want to be a burden as he began to slip away from us in this world. 

Throughout everything, both good and bad, Dad was there, content to work behind the scenes, always trying to provide us with what we needed.  More often than not, and we have decades of pictures to prove it, he was there to record our achievements as well. 

 

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