Chris did a great job Thursday morning with the eulogy during the funeral mass for my father at St. Benedict Catholic Church, in Holmdel. Here are his prepared notes. He strayed a bit from this text, but you get the idea.
First, I would like to thank everyone for coming and for the well wishes, prayers and concerns. Looking out at the number of people here today, I would say,“If you can measure a man by the number of people who care for him and love him, my father has done pretty well in life.” Over the last several days, we’ve obviously had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people who have known dad over the years – family, friends, acquaintances, business associates. It seems without fail they comment how they have enjoyed knowing dad. How funny he was. How intelligent he was. How sharp he was. How respected he was. We all appreciate hearing that. Growing up, we all like to think our dad is larger than life. But sometimes through your life you question whether you believe that only because he’s your father. Maybe others don’t see him in the same light. Hearing the compliments of the last few days validate my opinions of my dad. This morning, I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about dad and what he meant to us. I think I speak for Kevin and Sue as well. As many of you know, coming from a working class family, losing his father when he was very very young, he became a very successful husband, father, brother, grandfather, and, professionally, accountant and bank executive. You could say that he was a self-made man. But we all know he was far from self-made. Nobody ever is. He was very much a product of a great home, a great family who loved him very much and took great pride in his accomplishments. His sisters helped raise him, they helped make him who he became. And I find it touching how proud they were of him. You could say though he was the prince. He sometimes found that the world did revolve around him a bit. Aunt Margie letting him jump on the bus while she ran behind it. My observation is that this trait never left him. Right, Mom? He went off to Fordham and then to Korea – along the way he met my mother, another strong woman who would continue to support him and allow him to be him. He grew into a man and soon into a father. Dad was a strong figure in our lives. I always say about my son, Nick, the things that drive you crazy about him are the things that make you love him. Dad had such a strong personality – he was persistent, driven, stubborn as the day is long. All traits that served him well in life. He taught us these traits and they helped us succeed in life. He was also loyal and devoted. To his friends and family. He loved my mom. I was going through pictures the other night and there were pictures of my mother and him from 25, 30 years ago. I remember being really young and we would fight over mom. He would always win – ping-pong games, Stratego, everything. Man, he was competitive. But, yes, he loved mom – always had names for her. But all were about how important she was to him. Growing up, our father taught us how to work hard. We get what we earn. And how to be be accountable. He wanted the best for us – and of course he knew what was best for us. You know this is what makes kids rebel – and we did our share. But what really burns us up, even today we are finding in new ways, is that he was often right. He was very generous. I bet if we went around the room today, we would have hundreds of stories about how dad helped them in difficult times, provided valuable advice, mentored them. There just isn’t enough time this morning to do any of them justice. As in every journey, you go through some dark times. There are some days and there are some nights. Every family, every relationship has this. You go through them and come out the other side. And you learn from them. I think we learned a lot together. Much about acceptance and forgiveness. Maybe most importantly, though, we learned that, through everything, no matter what happens, he’s my father and I’m his son, we’re a family and there is nothing on this earth that will change that. And the arguments we had, they were so often over what we thought was best for the other. Growing up, you always look for validation. Every kid wants their dad’s approval. Every child wants their dad to tell them that he is proud of them. And we all know what it feels like to get that attention, that acknowledgement. You may need it less as you get older and more secure with yourself. But it still feels good. And in recent years, he let me know he was proud of me. And I know he is proud of Sue and Kevin as well – and the families we now have – in all of his grandchildren – Peter and Kelly, Justin, Hannah and Nick. I will always be thankful for the way he welcomed Hannah into our family when I got married. He’s proud of our successes, but maybe more importantly, who we have become as people. I often hear that I am a lot like my father. Not just the crazy eyebrows, but also the competitiveness, the stubbornness and persistence, our sense of humor. There were times when that would drive me crazy. Really, who wants to be told you are just like your dad when you are at the age when all you want to be is NOT like your parents. I have to say though, now when people say that to me, I take it as a compliment. I hope someday, when my measure as a man it taken, I fair as well as my father. God bless you, Dad.