Eulogy by son Damian as read at Rosary November 9, 2005
Some of my most vivid memories of Dad are of him reciting one of his many sayings for example, any given day you could ask dad “How’s it going” and he would almost always reply “shitty”. Other memories include family gatherings which usually included some sort of barbeques, designing the family ring, working on a project such as building the addition, plumbing, rebuilding the engine in Kathi’s Camero, and of course him helping the children with their math homework.
Math homework was the worst.
It usually entailed me sitting at the table, tears streaming down my
cheeks and Dad frustrated that I was not grasping the concept. Who can forget the famous question “What part
of the problem don’t you understand?” I
can remember sitting at the table, working a problem out for the third time and
thinking this man was once a teacher? I
could picture a class with some 30 children, all crying, and Dad at a chalk
board writing out more algebraic equations.
I always thought it was a fantastic move for him to get out of the
classroom and move into aerospace at
When I reflect on these times I am reminded of the time Michael and I, with the help of many of our siblings, put a new roof on Michaels house, the time Jeanie and Chuck had an addition built mostly by family and friends, and the many times we have all done auto work from brake jobs to engine rebuilds. I don’t recall a single time being frustrated or upset as I worked with Dad on these projects as a child, and yet all of this must have sunk in as all the children learned these skills at Dads knee.
I now understand what a great teacher he actually was. This brings to mind one his sayings, or pearls of wisdom as the children had started calling them, “If I can teach you anything, it is that you should be aware of what is going on around you.” He had later named this lesson Path Finding. If you stopped by the house while Dad was out you would most certainly receive a call later that day with Dad saying he had read the signs and knew you stopped by. The children would chide each other if one of them missed an obvious sign that we would take their Path Finding badge away.
As I look around today I am keenly aware of many friends Dad has. He talked about them all the time. He felt so close to so many people that our family had grown way beyond the family tree that would print out from his genealogy software. There where several children who joined our family and lived with us as they finished high school. These extended siblings would argue about who is number 11, 12, and on and on. I laugh when I think of the many nurses who would come in to his room and say “Immediate family only” and the response was always “We are immediate family!” If Sam was there it was a little tougher to sell but no one ever questioned us.
That is where Dad liked to be, surrounded by family. He would coordinate many stealth barbeques. He would call the children on the phone and set a time for everyone to just stop by. When you would show up you would be handed your assignment. There would be a large piece of meat that needed to be cooked, side dishes and desserts that needed to be prepared and drinks that needed to be iced down. I would normally end up in front of the barbeque cooking the roast beast looking towards the heater to find Dad sitting, drink in hand, with his family all around him. This was exactly where he wanted to be.
Last week, I found out Dad was given an assignment of his own from one of the grand children who obviously learned well from him. As Dad explained it to me he was going to be a Guardian Angel. I understand he is taking requests and if anybody from the extended family needs guidence please feel free to put in the request. I just suggest you don’t ask for help with any math homework.