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Memorial Day: December 22

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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Memorial Day: December 22

Five years ago, I lost my dad to colorectal cancer. I've remembered his passing each year, with a story about how caroling at the nursing home reminded me of his last days, how I missed the moment of his death, and by talking about how his dying so close to Christmas affected me.

This year, I've decided to pull out the eulogy I read at his memorial service that occurred a few days after Christmas 2004. When I wrote it, I had three additional houseguests, was still cleaning up wrapping paper, and had a three-month-old newborn along with a 1 and 3 year old. It isn't the most eloquent thing I've ever written, but I think he would've approved.

If someone didn't know our dad and just dropped in to look at his belongings and observe his life, they'd see they'd found a man with a strong inclination for neatness, detail and order.

From his incredibly detailed filing system, to the blueprints he created for his annual garden, to his workbench with a spot for every tool, pencil and rope, to his lawn---a perfect green patch of loveliness. When I was younger, I'd mow his lawn in crazy corkscrew and checkerboard patterns just to drive him crazy.

As my brother-in-law once said with great fondness, "people think your sister gets her extreme neatness from your mom; but while your mom is neat, your dad is nuts."

Our dad was also very intelligent. . .he could play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit. . .but I believe he used his intelligence not as a way to set him apart from other people, but as a way to connect to others. He loved to talk to people--all kinds of people--and he knew something about so many topics, he could almost always find a subject in common with the person to whom he was speaking. If you've ever had a long conversation with him and then wondered, "I didn't know Ed knew anything about XYZ", you know what I mean.

He was also a man of simple pleasures: a nice canoe paddle around the pond, a good piece of meat off the grill, an evening watching TV with his Fluffy cat on his lap, spending time with his grandchildren, tending to his garden, patiently teaching his sons-in-law how to do a home project. But again, he liked nothing more than sitting down with you and talking about whatever topic came to mind.

But, this is just part of the picture of my dad. He was also a guy with a great sense of humor who loved jokes and goofiness. His favorite movies were Airplane, Young Frankenstein and This Is Spinal Tap. When I lived at home, I could hear his laughter carrying down the hallway as he watched Saturday Night Live or some other late night show.

When the Connecticut River flooded our neighborhood and he was stuck behind to keep the pump going in the basement, he took my sister's Barbie sailboat and used it to hold his beer.
We had a "Don't Tell Mom" agreement between us which was invoked when he purchased a large piece of electronics or when I had another alcohol-infused mishap. Every summer, he'd blow up giant dragon floats for the pond and affectionately named them Cecil and Puff, supposedly to amuse the kids, but we knew better.

And, he's the only dad I ever knew who'd hear his girls scream "TURN DOWN THAT STEREO!" when we walked into the house. He liked his music LOUD!

It is in this spirit that I'd like to read a short passage from a song that I think he'd appreciate. There were many times, even in his final weeks, that we saw his sense of humor, his strength of character, his optimism and love of life shining through:

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad

Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle

Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best

And. . .
. . .always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the light side of life

(from Monty Python's Life of Brian)

Still missing you like crazy Daddy.



Anonymous Boston Mamas said...

Tears in my eyes. Sending you wishes for peace and a light heart today. -Christine

9:10 AM  
Blogger Jozet at Halushki said...

This is just beautiful. Just absolutely stunning, and making me miss my own dad so much.

What a wonderful man to have for a dad. He sounds like someone that everyone loved immediately.

Hugs to you. I know how hard it is. I'm missing my own dad who left us right before Christmas, 10 years ago. Here's wishing you peace and the nearness of his love during this holiday.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Kellee said...

What a lovely tribute to your father. He sounds just like someone I'd have loved to sit down and have a long, meandering conversation with. Hugs for you.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Obi-Mom Kenobi said...

That's so lovely. A friend lost her MIL last Christmas and now her husband is in the hospital recovering from an unexpected surgery. Things like these continue to teach me to remember to slough off the little things and focus on the "bright side of life."

12:40 PM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

Oh, this doesn't get any easier to read, five years later. It still makes me smile and cry.

Sadly, none of my kids were able to meet him-- but reading lovely tributes like this, telling stories and teaching them fun and wacky things he taught me-- they will always remember their Opa.

Peace and hugs to you all...

1:45 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

The deep love and respect you had for your father shines through every word.

I wish you peace my friend.

1:49 PM  
Blogger The Mom said...

He sounds like a wonderful man. I wish I could have known him. Enjoy all your wonderful memories.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Barb said...

and he raised one fine daughter.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Wow...what an awesome tribute.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Julie B said...

I remember you and your sister doing that Eulogy, and I recall wondering how you had it "so together". Its a wonderful tribute to your dad.


9:20 PM  
Blogger Suburb Sierra said...

Thanks for sharing that. And while we weren't able to be there in person that day to hear those beautiful words, we were there in spirit, as we are today.

Your dad was a lucky man surrounded by so much love, but I bet he always knew that, knowing your family.


10:21 PM  
Anonymous Chicky Chicky Baby said...

That was beautiful.

You dad sounds like a man who was easy to love and who loved back equally. That's all anyone can ask for in a dad. And you sound like a chip off the ol' block. ;)

Peace to you, friend. xoxo

8:41 AM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

This is just beautiful. Truly.

Huge squishy hugs my friend.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

I delivered an eulogy for my dad, whom I lost five years ago to colon cancer.

With you in spirit on this anniversary. This is beautiful.


6:53 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Beautiful. Your dad sounds like someone who should indeed be missed like crazy.

I'm just getting around to catching up with all of my bloggy friends...

Happy holidays to you and your dear family. And, peace in the new year!


1:49 PM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, what a wonderful memorial for him. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday.


1:01 PM  
Blogger :)De said...

So sorry for your loss... your words are a very beautiful memory. Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas!


4:40 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

He sounds like a dear, sweet man. I'm so sorry for your loss.

5:01 PM  

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