“Dad is there”

Tomorrow makes 11 years.

Eleven years since I shared this eulogy at my dad’s funeral.

Today, as  a “kid” of 56, this is still very difficult for me.

I have my days.

And even though I knew it was coming, nothing in the world could prepare me for it.

It is still  totally overwhelming. Numbing.   The most difficult on the job training I ever had to undergo.  As the first-born, I had some really big shoes to fill.

I personally know several younger kids in our community that have lost their mom or pop.

Many just this past year.

As hard as it was for me – and still is – I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for them.

Perhaps sharing my experience  will help connect those of us that have lost a parent – together.  

Compel each one of us to think, look and move  forward. Promote hope. Restore faith.  And  trust that things can and will get better.

Perhaps through this, all of us will get to know of each other a little more.

Understand that someone else – closer – than you think is facing exactly the same kind of adversity.

Whether or not we ever get to know each other more beyond this one post remains to be seen.

But for now, at least each of us is aware that we are all in the same boat.

Dealing with the same sadness and sense of loss.  Struggling; wondering what it all means,

So as I reflect on my dad’s life and what he meant to me, I invite you to do the same.

Focus on the good things – and forgive the not so.

Assuming that we all have a relationship with a higher power, let’s try to keep one another in our thoughts and prayers.

Comforted in the knowledge that you are not alone.

Eulogy – November 13, 2004

“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. 

jerry with hair

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. 

dekalb accordion

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.

come to the edge

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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