(Given at Our Lady of Good Counsel)
My father used to say that he had two sons … one of each. You’re about to see why.
You could learn everything you needed to know about the gentle force of nature that was our father from the night before he died.
Our father was, first and foremost, a family man. The last email he sent me was an offer to babysit his granddaughters so Tracey and I could have the evening off, though I suspect the offer was more to see his granddaughters than anything else. I countered with an offer to have dinner at our house. At one point in the evening, mom was reading to Cassie, dad was reading to Alexandra, and Tracey and I had a moment of calm. I remember thinking that this was a perfect moment. Our father was surrounded by his family, and couldn’t have been happier. We had dinner together, and he helped put the girls to bed, kissing each and telling each he loved them. I have a house full of love and laughter because that was the kind of house I grew up in thanks to my father. Nothing was more important to him than family.
Our father was a Marine. He used to tell me that there are no ex-Marines, only retired ones. The Corps always remained close to his heart. Every year he received two birthday gifts from me: one at the end of October on his birthday, and a second two weeks later on the Marine Corps birthday. When I was growing up he used to tell me about a movie he was subjected to while on ship called, “The Mighty Ursus.” He would laugh as he told us about the scene in which Ursus had to fight a bull. For the close-up moments, there was Ed Fury, his black, wavy hair looking stunning as he wrestled the bull. And when the camera pulled away, there was some unfortunate curly haired redhead getting tossed around. Monday night I found the movie online, and I finally got to watch that scene and howl in laughter at it with my dad. He was in the Corps for twenty years, and in all the time since I have yet to meet anyone who served with our father who didn’t respect and love him. Our father symbolized everything that is right about the Corps: duty, loyalty, and honor, and he passed those ideals on to me.
Our father was my hero … and our biggest supporter. No matter what my brother or I wanted to do, dad supported us. No matter what mistakes we made, dad was there to help us sort them out. Nowhere was that in more evident than when he helped replace my lawn. You see, in my fervor to kill some weeds, I mistakenly sprayed the lawn with the wrong chemical. So over two days in the drizzle and rain, Tracey, my father, and I tore up the entire lawn and put down fresh soil for a new lawn. It was eighteen hours of hard work, and he did it gladly. Monday night I went out to water a few areas of the lawn my father helped create. When I came back, there was my father sitting in the hallway watching his granddaughters splash around in the tub. On his face was a peaceful smile and a look of quiet contentment and amusement.
As you can probably tell, Monday night was in every way perfect night.
Dad, I’m going to miss seeing you in the stands when I coach, watching the NBA draft every year, swapping emails, cartoons, and political stories, and generally sharing my day with you. I didn’t say it enough when you were with us, but I have said it every day since your death.
I love you, dad.