‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Sunday, June 18, 2006


My dad died on Father's Day 2005. I'm thinking of him today. Here is the eulogy I gave for him at the funeral mass:

Hi Dad. I know you’re there, because you’ve told me a thousand times you’d be sitting in the last row at Immaculate, making sure we gave you a good send-off. I hope you approve so far. It’s hard to top you, but we’re trying. Well, Dad, I want to tell all the people here about you. The you I knew. I had forty years with you, so I count myself very lucky….of course, Danny had almost as many, but since age is a sore point for him, we won’t go there. So Dad, sit back and enjoy… and everyone else, listen up.

My dad was a pirate. Not many kids get to be raised by a pirate, so I know it was a very special experience, and it's one that needs to be shared. I loved my dad fiercely, and as you all know, we were a lot alike. My dad loved a good story -- and a good fight-- and so did I. We spent the better part of my adolescence trying to see who could raid whose ship the most…and, of course, who won the right to be captain. Dad, I’m going to swallow my inherited Irish pride here in front of all your friends and confess that, despite my fighting it to the death sometimes, you always managed to keep your crew in their place.

But what a time we had! Growing up with a pirate for a dad means lots of adventures, lots of storytelling, and lots of chances to prove our bravery to the captain. I remember the summer nights we used to spend walking through Greenlawn Cemetary with you, Uncle Jim, Mark and Krissy.

I’ll give you fifty cents if you go up and kiss that gravestone, all by yourself,' you’d say with a grin. Uncle Jim would always double it to a dollar, so we’d fight our fear left and right to get it. I’m proud to say I always took the challenge. I scared myself half to death, but I never let you know that. We spent a lot of time there, which is funny, because now a part of you will be spending a lot of time there. You used to say “I want that spot, right down by the water.”

“But dad, that’s so spongy. They can’t put a coffin there.”

“Sure they can. I’ll just slip out and go swimming every night” you’d insist. I have to admit, I loved imagining that as a child – you swimming with the fishes. It gave me a peace that you would never really die.

Now that you’re on the other side, I guess I can finally tell some of those funny stories without you getting in trouble. Like: remember how you used to have us duck under the seats of the sheriff’s car to drive us on errands? You hated the traffic on North Street, so we’d hide and you’d light up the siren, and we’d laugh all the way there and back. And remember all those times you'd take us out of school to see the best movies on opening day: Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones? You understood that some things were just a little more important than school.

How did you manage to make everything such an adventure? And you never minded the odd dozen extra kids along for the ride. In fact, I can’t remember much of my childhood without Mark or Krissy there, the Huuskonens, Mark Tuttle, or Brim and Craig . Our house was really just a massive pirate ship where the captain always had room for more crew.

And you had no problem forcing your crew into slave labor: weeding the yard, carting boxes in and out of the screen-house and cellar. We hated it, but every one of us can thank you for our tireless work-ethic.

( I wrote more here to sum things up, but I lost the draft, and forget how I ended it!I'll add it if I ever find the ending!)

Anyway, I miss you Dad.

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