The Eulogy I Wrote For My Dad…
July 17, 2012
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Now Reading: The Eulogy I Wrote For My Dad…
July 17, 2012
My father passed away on Saturday July 14, 2012 after a long, tough battle with Parkinson’s Disease. This is the eulogy that I wrote and read at his funeral mass…
My dad was born on October 20, 1929…the exact same day that the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. I don’t know how that fits into my eulogy, but I always thought that was pretty interesting, so there you go.
So I spent days trying to think of exactly what to say and how to commerarte my dad’s life. I did a lot of googling “how to write a eulogy”. I was struggling with the theme of this speech… And then in speaking to lots of friends & family at the wake yesterday, I heard one sentence over and over and over.
“Your dad was such a gentleman.”
Gentleman derived from the Latin word for gentle which is gignere and from the Proto-Germanic word for man.
The dictionary defines a gentleman as…
–A well-mannered and considerate man with high standards of proper behavior.
–A man regarded as having qualities of refinement associated with a good family
–A man who is cultured, courteous, and well-educated
I think that fits my dad to a tee. He might have resisted it sometimes, he might have wanted to be seen as a tough guy sometimes, but deep down he was a gentleman. He couldn’t help it. It was in his DNA.
My dad was a gentleman through and through. And it infiltrated every aspect of his life, including his life as a teacher. And through his teaching he touched many lives along the way.
As a HS English teacher he gave out trophies for academic excellence so the nerds would feel as cool as the jocks.
As a principal, he was the first to have graduation ceremonies at Lincoln Center. I googled it and last year alone 12,000 students had HS & College graduation ceremonies there but his students were the first.
Nothing made him happier than when he’d run into an old student who had fond memories of him.
And we all know he taught in NYC Public Schools in Harlem. And we all remember lots of funny stories from there. But the man loved to teach. The politics and the bureaucratic stuff, not so much. But he loved to teach. When he retired from the NYC schools, he continued teaching for another 15 years and touched even more lives.
He taught a little college, he taught HS equivalncey courses to prisoners, heck I had an old HS friend tell me that he taught her CCD religion courses here at this church! I don’t remember that at all!
And he did it all with a great sense of humor and humility. He was a gentleman.
And as a father, he was the same way. He was always very supportive and proud of everything my sister and I did, big or small. And he adored his grandson Kyle. When Kyle was younger my dad was content to watch him nap. Dad would pull up a chair and watch him sleep for hours. And during dad’s time in the nursing home, a visit from Kyle would always add a HUGE sparkle to his eyes.
Now that I’m older there’s so many of dad’s personality traits that I wish I had more of, if that’s grammatically correct. Some of the same things that I resisted or would make fun of when I was kid, I’m envious of now….
I’m envious of how personable he was. He was always comfortable talking to anybody in any situation about any topic. He’d make friends with the waiter or the patrons at another table within seconds of sitting down at a restaurant. He’d invite the Javohas Witnesses in to see a picture of his grandson.
I’m envious of how good a public speaker he was. If he was doing this eulogy I’m sure he wouldn’t be as nervous as I am now. And if he was doing this eulogy he’d be speaking without a script, or with a few notes written on 3×5 index cards.
I’m envious of his sense of style. I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. Looking at lots of pictures over the past few days I realized how much of a player my dad was when he was younger. Did you see those old pictures yesterday? The man had swagger. If it wasn’t for my wife dressing me I wouldn’t look nearly this good.
Basically I’m envious of how much of a gentleman he was. How he was always a gracious host. And as my mom could tell you, he didn’t always want to be hosting a party or a holiday at his house and there might be a bit of a battle right up until the guests arrived. But once you were in his house, heck once you were in his presence, he was always trying to make everyone feel comfortable.
And when the Parkinson’s really slowed him over the past few years, and he would have good days and bad days and happy days and angry days, his gentlemanly ways would still shine through. One of his first requests when he got to the nursing home was for us to buy folding chairs so that all his guests would have chairs. And in his last few months when his speech wasn’t great, my mom would bring him coffee & Stella Dora biscotti and without saying a word, he’d motion to us like “where’s yours? I’m not going to eat alone.”
So the last couple of days we’ve been celebrating my dad. And my dad would’ve loved it. Richie said yesterday at the wake “who’s gonna make me laugh at wakes now?” because my dad would always be in the corner of a wake bending someone’s ear with some funny story like the time he almost got arrested in Puerto Rico for “accidentally” driving on an airport runway. And between the afternoon & evening wake sessions we had some people over my house for dinner and as Aunt Jo said my dad would’ve been in his glory with all his family around, especially when the conversation was about Italian dialects.
So let me wrap it up by saying let’s continue to celebrate the man, the gentleman, and remember him with everything we do.
Written byFrank Campagna
I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).