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My eulogy for dad
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Here's what I wrote for a eulogy for dad. In actual delivery, I changed up a few bits of wording on the spur of the moment, but this is essentially waht I said. I've added a few footnotes for completeness; these were not part of the speech.


I am my father's son, for better and for worse. He taught me so much, both deliberate lessons and accidentally, by example. Some lessons he'd be very proud of, others... well, not so much, but whether I was imitating or reacting against him, dad defined a huge part of me.

I wasn't with him in his final hours, or much during his final years. He had never been close to his own parents, and that was something I inadvertently learned from him. But I also learned from him how to make deep and abiding friendships. How to *build* a family, with ties of love instead of blood. The number of people here attests to the size of his adopted family[1]. Dad taught me that it was never too late to make new friends, or to renew ties with ones who had regrettably fallen out of touch.

From an early age, I picked up dad's love of words. The house was always full of books, and they weren't just for show. Ours was a highly intertextual household; the conversation was always peppered with quotations and references. Dad and I are both fair wordsmiths, but neither of us are shy about using others' words when they've already said what we wanted to, and said it better.

I gravitated early towards his collections of genre fiction, of science fiction and mysteries, and still read a lot in both genres. Over the years, our tastes gradually diverged, and Dad and I had less to talk about in that regard. Dad became interested in collecting knives and guns, something that seemed out of joint with his gentle, non-violent nature. At least, that's what I was thinking the other day as I wrapped up a session of shooting down videogame monsters and collecting the weapons they dropped. I guess we're not *that* different after all.

Dad gave me a love for horrible puns. He loved them, in every medium, verbal, visual, even musical. Few things pleased him more than a familiar tune played in an unfamiliar style. This love was clear to everyone. Early in my relationship with the woman who is now my wife, she took to saying, "I blame your father" whenever I would make a particularly awful pun.[2]

My parents came from different religious backgrounds. They wanted to raise me with *some* sort of religion in my life, so they compromised on UU. I'm glad they did, even though I haven't stayed in the church.[3] As I'm sure you know better than me, dad loved this church deeply, and you were a huge part of his life.

In my youth, dad worked long, hard hours to provide for the family. He wasn't home much, and when he was home, he was often napping to recover from work. I missed him terribly. Dad never complained, and never tried to make money an issue. To the contrary, he and mom tried to shield me from ever worrying about money, to tell me that other things were more important. Ironically, they succeeded so well at this lesson that I have difficulty forcing myself to make money to this day. I do spend lots of time with my wife, but I'm not half the provider that dad was.

Dad rarely complained about anything. He always put a brave face on things, right up to his last days. Arguably, he did so to a fault, having trouble asking for help when he needed it. This, too, I learned from him.

Dad was often deeply depressed around "the holiday season". He did his best to hide it, so I never realized it until I was an adult. Mom said it was because everyone *calls* Christmas the happiest time of the year, and yet it was so often full of problems and conflicts and dashed hopes. Imperfect humans, trying so hard to be perfect, or at least to appear perfect, for that one day. He *did* try, and he usually succeeded. I think that this year, he couldn't face keeping up that facade one more time, so he bowed out just before.

Dad never stopped teaching me. A little over a year ago, I started suffering from chronic joint pain. Physical therapy helped some, but I still have to frequently stop what I'm doing and take stretching breaks to keep it under control. As I was coming to realize this, I resented it horribly, as it's an effective 10% tax on my time. Then I realized that my dad was suffering what amounted to a 90% tax on *his* little remaining time, and bearing it without much complaint.

Not long ago, dad gave me a packet of papers with various important information, "in case of emergency". Account numbers, contact info for close friends, and the like. I didn't actually open it until he was in his final hours. It was mostly what I expected, except for the last two pages. One of them was a compilation of "THE RULES according to Leroy Jethro Gibbs", a character on the TV show NCIS. The final page contained "The Rules of Being Human" (unattributed) [4]. They begin "1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around." The list goes on with a number of pithy but true lessons, and concludes "10. You will forget all this. [beat] 11. You can remember it whenever you want or need to."

Heartfelt advice, mixed with humor and some pop culture references to go down easy. That was dad in a nutshell. He's not here anymore, but you can remember him, whenever you want or need to.


[1] Just to cover my bases, I was prepared to omit this line if only a few people had actually showed. But I was pretty sure there would be many, and I was right.

[2] I spent a long time trying to work up an appropriately awful pun to insert into the eulogy, but just couldn't manage it. Thankfully, someone in the congregation later came up with a real groaner, so *that* was alright.

[3] I thought about using my line about being a "lapsed Unitarian" here, which is always good for a laugh, but ultimately decided not to.

[4] Some googling suggests that this list *may* have originated with Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott. But, in the way of the internet, variant versions and attributions have now spread far and wide.
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It's so hard to capture someone's spirit in words. I think you have done very well.

The holidays were such a large part of the small time that I spent with your father, it's sad to think that they were a trial for him. I guess that's why he hid it.

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