I said farewell to my father today. I kept looking for him to be sitting next to us, but he wasn’t there. My mother asked me to write a eulogy for him, and these are the words I said.
He was my father.
He shared his love of reading with me. He said that, as a child, he always loved to read, and he carried that with him throughout his life. I follow in his footsteps.
He was the person I went to when I doubted my own words; we’d argue over the use of commas.
He was the only one who voluntarily read my dissertation. I’m not sure what he thought, except he told me he needed a dictionary in parts.
He was the person I’d call when I applied for jobs and was unsure what to say. He made me believe that anything was possible.
He came to my rescue when I needed help with Sarah, whose toddler days sometimes meant I couldn’t always get my work done. Nathan had to be away for some reason, and I had a big interview to prepare for, so he came and stayed for a couple of weeks, to play with his granddaughter and even take her to the beach for the first time.
He printed out images of Snoopy on a dot matrix printer and handed out punch cards with messages on them as he wowed my elementary school classmates with a room full of computer technology.
He charmed my friends whenever they met him.
He told awful jokes that I’m now passing down to Sarah.
He greeted every spring with this memorable poem, “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is, the birds is on the wing, no, the wings is on the birds.”
He mastered the art of telling the Passover story as quickly as possible so we could get to the food, and of giving me hints (without anyone knowing) which allowed me to find the Afikomen before the big kids.
His snore scared away the bears, but his joy on one particular canoe trip made the adventure even greater.
He made connections with people in Japan faster than most Americans who lived there.
He led the way on every journey we took. He loved to walk and we had to scramble to keep up.
He was my personal GPS system, even though I believe he and I have a completely different understanding of the term “short cut.”
He jumped over my wedding dress when my parents walked me down the aisle.
He always said that, when he was young he “walked to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways.”
His favorite childhood story involved a skunk, a dog, tomato juice, and the missing seat in his pants.
He was the silliest looking samurai ever.
I learned early on never to pull his finger, and that beans were a musical fruit.
He played endless games with his only grandchild, who has these words to say:
I MISS YOU PAPA
I loved the way you laughed.
I loved the way you played games with me.
I loved that you watched me when I was a baby.
I wish I was brave enough to go to your funeral.
I miss you SO much Papa and I love you.
Rest in Peace! Sarah
He was taken far too soon, by a disease that deprived us of his wit, wisdom and his voice. Two years ago, Nathan, Sarah, and I tried to capture his memories using techniques from StoryCorps. From that interview I learned how much he loved my mother, how much he had hoped to spend his retirement traveling with her, and these words from his mouth
“I had a great life.”
I will miss you forever, Dad.
Baruch Dayan Ha’emet.