A Eulogy For My Father

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This is the eulogy I read at Dad’s funeral mass. I’m backdating this to the time of his funeral even though I didn’t publish it until month’s later

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Donnie and I were talking one weekend in the car on one of our recent trips into town to visit Dad in hospice. We were discussing traits I may or may not have gotten from Dad. Things I’m proud to have inherited: like his love of geography and math. And things that have caused me worlds of problems: like the insanely curly hair and his social anxieties. I was thinking about how my parenting reflects the way Dad parented us and I said, “You know, Dad was an extremely selfless parent.”

I’ve been a Mom now for 14 years. Many times in those 14 years, I’ve needed to take breaks. Sometimes I take the kids to a babysitter while we go to dinner, or see a movie, or even just run errands. I have a lot of friends who are also parents and they’ll agree with me in saying that those breaks are a necessity as a parent. I don’t know of anyone who has ever said, “A break? Nah, I don’t need one!”

Except for Dad.

Dad enjoyed being a parent so much that parenting was his break from the rest of his life. Not only did he NEVER take a break from being our Dad, no matter how crazy we were acting, but he always claimed parenting us was EASY. He said raising us was the easiest thing he ever did. This proved one thing for sure: Dad had a different definition of “easy” in his head than I did.

Dad went above and beyond the regular requirements of a parent. He coached soccer for both of our teams. This was especially difficult for me since I have absolutely no natural athletic skill whatsoever. He took me to gymnastics and both of us to piano lessons. He helped us with science fair projects (we always had the best ones, of course) and book reports. He took us to museums and to the library.

And that’s just the beginning.

As we got older, he found ways to stay involved in our lives. He traveled to see us play sports all through high school and stayed up late many nights to wait for us to get home so he could hear how our school functions went. I remember one time, as a Senior in high school, he ended up driving a car full of my squealing friends from Camp John Knox to Knoxville and back one night so that we wouldn’t have to miss a Y-Teen rally for our Senior trip. If you’ve never been trapped in a car for an hour with more than five hyper-active teenage girls you many not realize how charitable of a gesture this was. You’ll just have to trust me. It is considered a war crime in some parts of the world.

The funny thing is? Dad loved it. He loved nothing more than just being a fly on the wall when my brother and I were around our friends. He often considered our friends and their parents his own peer group. He joked that when we graduated from high school he lost a lot of his social circle in the parents of our friends.

One time I volunteered Dad to chaperone a field trip for my biology class when I was a Senior. He was given a group of freshmen to be in charge of and realized immediately that it was more of a formality than anything. Those freshmen didn’t need or want him to be in charge. That didn’t keep him from trying his best to at least memorize all of their names on the way to Chattanooga. Dad didn’t know how to do anything halfway.

He took me shopping for prom dresses in high school. He even managed to fake enthusiasm (in between yawns, of course) as I tried on dozens of outfits. Let’s just say that raising a teenage daughter is a difficult task for anyone, but for a single Dad? There just are not words, I’m sure. This was before Google was one click away to answer all of your questions about parenting. He had to just wing it.

His selflessness raising us to adulthood knew no limits. But it didn’t stop there. My brother and I both have leaned on his shoulder several times as adults. He continued to be our best cheerleader as he traveled out west to see my brother do his Ironman and came to Nashville to watch me run my marathon. Even just in the last year or so he spent a week in Tucson helping my brother tile his home and spent a week in Alabama helping take care of Nikki when I was recovering from my c-section. Anytime we asked for him to help us, he did. Never once putting anything before us.

Essentially, he put his whole life on hold while he raised us, letting his own personal dreams and goals fall to the wayside. I think that’s the hardest part about losing him now, I don’t feel like he ever got to live his own life. Maybe if he hadn’t been so busy watching me try on hot-pink satin prom dresses, he could have hiked the Appalachian Trail or written a book.

But I’ll try not to focus on that, and instead focus on the sacrifices he made for us and do my best to repay him by making similar sacrifices for my own family.

But don’t count on me driving a car full of teenage girls anywhere. I know my limitations.

I know I’ll face many pains in my heart in the years to come as things unfold in my life that I know he would have been excited to hear about. I told him everything, from getting picked on in 2nd grade to learning how to rack servers a few months ago. I told him about new books I discovered and new challenges I faced as a Mom. He was always there.

When trying to decide what to say today, I just thought this was a side of Dad worth telling you all about tonight. The side you may not have been aware of – the amazing selfless father who was more than just a Dad to us. More often than not – was our best friend.

44 thoughts on “A Eulogy For My Father

  1. Sandy says:

    That was nice. Love the graphic too with various pictures of your family. Thinking of you today-I know it will be a tough day.

  2. This is beautiful. I’m sure your Dad thought so too, listening from where he is.

    Thinking of you today & sending hugs… hope that you get to do something that honors him and makes you feel closer.

  3. MJ says:

    He was truly an amazing man, I know you miss him. He touched many lives in his own quiet way. May you always feel his arms around you. I know he will continue to help you when you need it, just look to the heavens and ask.

  4. Linda260 says:

    Sigh – now I’m crying, missing all the loved ones I’ve lost in my life. Your Dad sounds like he was a remarkable man. You are a remarkable woman for recognizing that, and writing about it so eloquently.

  5. Ash says:

    This was beautiful…I’m so glad you shared it with the internet world. Know that I’m thinking of you tons today…

  6. Thank you for sharing that. Since my dad wasn’t around for most of my life and my step-dad was only around when I (felt I) was too old to have one, I do envy your relationship with your dad. It’s beautiful tribute to him.

  7. Heather says:

    Beautiful. I lost my very much beloved Grandmother in February and have saved and re-read the eulogy I delivered. We are lucky when we are visited by a muse (as I’m sure you were) and are able to express ourselves so beautifully when the most ugly thing possible has happened. That was your father, sitting on your shoulder, supporting you while you held that pen. Having now lost my mother (25 years ago) and my Grandmother (months ago), I can tell you — as an atheist — that you will feel your father near you. He is part of you and surrounds you. At times, I promise, you will feel him draw near and you will feel a comfort that only you can recognize. It is no substitution for him being with you in body, but his spirit will warm you.

  8. I didn’t read it yet, because i just put my makeup on and I can’t cry before I head off to church, and I know I will! I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you today <3

  9. The things you have written and shared here on your blog are an absolutely amazing tribute to your father. Lots of love to you today.

  10. Thanks for sharing him with us, Kim. Obviously I never met him, but from your description, it sounds like he would tell you that his life’s work was raising you and your brother so well–and enjoying it–

  11. Denise says:

    I have no idea how you read that out loud that day. I had a hard time reading it myself. Very nicely done and your Dad would have been so proud that day and every day since.

  12. Lise says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. You were so fortunate to have him as your father. . . and he was so fortunate to have you as his daughter.

  13. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And it reminds me in places of my own dad, who voluntarily took me to — get this — concerts in high school. Imagine a 40-year-old man going to see Duran Duran, and then asking on the way home when we’d do it again.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I feel like I know your dad from your posts, just a little bit. Enough, at least, to share the tiniest portion of your grief.

  14. That was wonderful! I lost my Dad 13 years ago and I know about the hole in the heart that can not be replaced. Sounds like you have wonderful memories to share with your children. He will live on through that. The one thing that hurts for me is that my Dad never got to meet his grandchildern. He would have loved them. My thoughts are with you.

  15. Allison says:

    Your dad was an amazing man!! From the few times I had the pleasure of meeting him, he struck me as being a super human being!! I am sure he left with NO regrets, as you and C both turned out to be wonderful people. That is his legacy… You guys and his grandchildren are his legacy…

    You are a great mom and friend. And in that you make your dad proud every day!!

    Just wanted to say I was thinking about you and am right there with you on feeling sad today. I have even tried to pretend that today was not Father’s Day for fear of falling apart. I am just so sad that my children will not even remember their father. Cherish your memories!!

    Love you!!!

  16. Jessie P. says:

    I lost my dad 7 years ago to a heart attack… Totally unexpected – 5 months pregnant with his 1st grand daughter. I was only 22. I miss him. Loved the eulogy.

  17. Patty says:

    Dear Kim,
    You’re ability to write about painful things is so amazing. I kept the one you wrote about your mom when she got so sick. This was lovely about your Dad and everything I thought, but didn’t really know. I just know he had 2 kids turn out to be great people so I knew he had done something right. I’m so glad you proved that to be true. I always loved your dad and feel incredible sadness that he died so young.

    One thing I have to address is this; your Dad did live his life as he wanted. He wanted to be loved, needed, and wanted by you and C and your family – he got that.

    I love you.

  18. Dawn says:

    Such a lovely eulogy, and I was thinking of you yesterday too. I lost my dad 4 years ago, and I know and understand that hole in your life. I also know how hard the 1st (and 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th) Father’s Day was for me too, so I am glad to see you on the other side.

  19. You are such a lovely woman, Zoot and I’m happy you had a great dad. I’m sorry you didn’t get as much time with him as you wanted.

  20. Can I ask how you did the graphic with the pictures of your dad? That is so neat! I am the family photographer and would like to create something like this for my parents for Christmas or their birthday.

  21. What a beautiful tribute to your father, Kim. You painted a wonderful picture of him for your family and friends that night. I’m sure he would have been honored to hear it.

  22. I’m way behind on my reading, and I hesitate to even write this – what if getting a comment here makes you sad all over again? But I thought about the posts that were hardest for me to write, and how the comments on them continue to be important to me even now, weeks, months, years later.

    So I’ll take the chance and just say that this is such a lovely and loving tribute to your dad. And thank you for sharing it with all of us.

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