(Given by Tracey at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery)
God gave Pat a kind and generous soul, a keen intelligence, and a sense of humor, and Pat wisely spent his lifetime developing those gifts. He lived a life full of faith, irreverent playfulness, imagination, and, above all love. C.S. Lewis book called The Four Loves, written in 1930, identified four ways to express love: affection. friendship, eros, and charity. Pat exemplified all of those and more. This summer we completed our last work titled Leadership: the Fifth Love. It is a testimonial to Pat’s belief in the power of treating individuals with dignity and respect. And last month his belief was fully validated, We attended a reunion of the 1st 8” Howitzer Battery, the unit he led in Vietnam. The gentleman who had been his cook went on to become the cook for the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He brought his scrapbook. Among the mementos of a long and distinguished career was a personalized birthday greetings that Pat had handed him in Vietnam over forty years earlier. Pat gave every man in his unit one – delivered personally – along with two cigars and a chit for a beer. The entire reunion days were an affirmation of how deeply Pat touched lives, and it is a comfort to me that we had the opportunity to share that experience – and to visit our favorite candy store in Ohio.
Our family was blessed to have an old-fashioned decent guy as its head. Luckily, we knew it and we took full advantage of it. We can look back on years of joy. His untimely death is a tragedy: His grand-daughters’ loss of Pop Pop … the fact that his parents were married for 65 years and mine for 67.
After co-authoring nine books and God-only-knows how many articles with Patrick, ironically, I cannot find my own words to express my grief. The year I met him, I heard a song that I haven’t thought about in years. The lyrics came back to me this Friday morning:
I’ll only miss him when I think of him,
And I’ll think of him all the time.
Likely, I’ll spend my days missing his turn of phrase
And things I found hard to praise, right now would seem sublime.
The truth is, I’ll only miss him when some stranger laughs,
Because it’s still his laugh my heart hears.
Maybe in time, I guess, the longing will grow the slightest bit less,
And there will be moments, yes, when it disappears.
I bet I’d forget him completely – in about a hundred years.
Only that last line doesn’t quite ring true. Inside our wedding rings, we had engraved two things: The date of our wedding – which, ironically, the jeweler got wrong by a month – and the Marine Corps motto: Semper Fi – always faithful. And every drink we shared for 43 years, we toasted each other with the word “forever.”
Patrick, it will be forever for me … and for all of your family.