Eulogy for Father
For the first time in my life, I'll celebrate Father's Day this year without my dad. The man who had the most influence on the man I became passed away on April 14. Jack was 79.
It has been said that the loss of a parent is one of life's most traumatic events. I now know the devastating truth of that statement. I've been told that, in time, the hurt will fade, only to be replaced by positive memories that soothe the soul. Already, I can feel that happening.
Maybe it's because my father and I had a simple and loving relationship. He was a remarkably good man, like many of the inspiring role models and mentors who frequently appear in Fast Company's pages. Like them, he was a person of devotion and integrity, a man who understood a hard day's work. Yet, unlike most of them, he never had the advantage of a college education. He worked pretty much his entire life in two places: a dye house and a post-office sorting facility.
His core accomplishment was family. And as his only child, I was the lucky beneficiary. My father poured vast amounts of love and energy into me during my most formative years. That is why I measure his life in the warehouse of photographs and movies he created for me. It is why I measure it in the size of his hands. Because what I remember most about my father are those sandpaper-rough hands, made rugged from factory work. From my earliest days, he took my hand in his and we discovered the world together.
With his hand in mine, we walked through New York's Times Square. We went to Tad's Steakhouse, where you could get a T-bone, a baked potato, a hunk of garlic bread, and a tossed salad for $2.79. We went to my grandmother's house on Saturday afternoons for endless games of gin rummy, Parcheesi, and Chinese checkers. We went for long hikes on Sunday afternoons, through the nearby woods. We hitchhiked together. We played music together -- he on a keyboard, me on a drum kit. We strolled the railroad tracks together in Paterson, New Jersey, laying pennies on the rails and waiting for the train to pass so we could use the flattened coins for guitar picks.
We fished together, in rowboats, off riverbanks and bridges, in rivers and lakes, with worms and fish eggs, and lures and flies.
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Fiske, R., & Cyrus, V. (2005). Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: Fourth Edition. Boston: McGrawHill
Readings in Race, Class, and Gender. Ed. David B. Grusky and Szonja Szelenyi. 2nd ed.
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My father was always there for me, whether I wanted him to be or not. Most of the time, as an adolescent trying to claim my independence, I saw this as a problem. Looking back I now realize it was a problem every child needs, having a loving father. As hard as I tried to fight it, my dad instilled in me the good values and work ethic to be an honest and responsible member of society. He taught me how to be a good husband. He taught me how to be a good father. He taught me how to be a man. It has been 18 years since my father’s death, and I am still learning from the memories I have of him.
There are times when you don’t know what to do or times when you might feel like you have no help in this world, but there is always that one person who never fails to give you the best advice in life, and that is your father. I have so much respect for any father out there that works hard, and always supports his family no matter what his imperfections might be. My father has got to be the best one in my opinion. He has been the biggest inspiration in my life because he taught me so much stuff in this life that I can’t find a way to pay him. He has been a very humble person and has never seen himself better than anyone else because he believes he is equal to any other father. In my opinion he is the best even though he says he isn’t. My father had imperfections just like any other human being in this world, yet he still taught me how to be a great person in this world by teaching me good morals. “Never Give Up, and believe in God and you will accomplish what you want in life” are words my father always tells me to remember.