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Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Eulogy For My Dad

I wasn't sure I would be able to write a eulogy for my dad, but I wanted to honor him, so I felt this was something I needed to try and do. I hope it would have made him smile, and would've made him proud.

Thank you all for being here today to honor my father.

As I started this eulogy I wondered how I would ever sum up 59 years of his life. I realize no matter what I come up with to say about him it won’t do the scope of his life justice, for he had a full life and was loved by many.

My dad was born in Norwich, CT on Dec 4, 1952. He grew up in the small town of Plainfield, CT. The stories I remember him telling centered around life going to a Catholic school where he had a ruler whacked across his knuckles by a nun on more than one occasion and playing Little League baseball. Playing ball was one of his favorite childhood memories and in fact, just a couple of months ago he wrote this: “May 27, 1965. This was the day I hit my first home run in little league. I usually can't remember yesterday, but certain times of your life you never forget and this was one of those times.” 

My brothers and I have favorite childhood memories involving our dad and baseball, well…technically softball. He played on a team at Hanscom AFB. We spent many a night on the bleachers and around the field watching those games. He played left field and he wasn’t one who would watch the ball fly over the fence. He wouldn’t just jump up to make an attempt at catching it either. Even if there was no chance of catching the ball he would run and climb that chain link fence and stretch out his arm to try and deny someone a home run. And then there were the Home Run Derbies where we enjoyed watching our dad smack quite a few over the fence and bringing home a trophy or two. His love of the sport made me eager to join the softball team when I was in 7th and 8th grade. I wanted to play left field, just like my dad, but that’s about as much as I did that was like him when it came to softball!

In 1971 my dad left his hometown and joined the Air Force. He was stationed at Sheppard AFB, TX (where I was born) and did a very remote 1-yr tour to Alaska. He was stationed at Plattsburg AFB, NY where Michael was born. We moved to Ramstein, Germany where my memories are of his friend, Ken Bachard, and him in the living room singing along to the songs “Walk Like A Man”, “Candy Girl”, “Sherry Baby” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Now every time I hear one of those songs I’m transported back to our living room at Ramstein.

After Germany he was stationed at Hanscom AFB, MA where he gained another son – Ray, and where his son Steven was born. Living in MA meant we were close enough to attend the Beausoleil family reunions at his dad’s house. This consisted of big backyard BBQs, plenty of beer, lots of horseshoe-throwing, foot races between his brothers, and roasting marshmallows in the big fire pit.

After Hanscom we went back to Germany, this time to Zweibrucken AB. Finally, his last duty station was at McGuire AFB, NJ where he retired in 1991 after serving honorably for 20 years. It was in NJ that he gained two more daughters – Janet and Mitsy.

If you were lucky enough to eat a meal prepared by my dad than you knew he was a great cook – and he should’ve been after 20 years in the food service industry! I used to call him up to ask for help in making this recipe or that dish – particularly how to make the candied yams he used to make for Thanksgiving.

To know my father was to know he was passionate about sports in general, and the Red Sox in particular. His rants on Facebook during a game made me smile and shake my head. As we were watching the games on TV my husband would sometimes say, “I bet your dad is going crazy on Facebook right now.” I didn’t even need to watch the games, I could read his status updates to know what was going on. He would complain about the manager leaving the pitcher in too long because of his ERA and I’d comment, “but Dad, it’s only the 4th inning!” and he’d go on and on about the pitcher’s stats against this batter in this stadium and in this situation. I think he missed his calling, he should have been a commentator, announcer, or manager. I’m going to miss his posts throughout the rest of this baseball season, especially since he would have plenty to say with the Red Sox’s current record!

My dad was a proud grandfather. I remember calling him from the hospital to tell him I had just given birth to my daughter, and that she had Down syndrome. I don’t know what reaction I was expecting as I was still absorbing the news myself. What he said was, “So?” He asked if she was healthy and going home and I said yes and he said that’s what matters. That was the reaction I needed, for someone to tell me “so…” and for me to see that it wasn’t a big deal. He supported us in the annual Down Syndrome Buddy Walks and tried to make it every year that he could. He deeply loved all his grandchildren and doted on them whenever he could and bragged on them whenever he had the chance.

After growing tired of the winters in NJ, my dad and his wife settled in FL where they fully enjoyed life and being near family for the past several years. My dad enjoyed being outdoors and spent many a day sprucing up the yard, building a pond, going to flea markets, camping, walking the trails at state parks, fishing, and riding a tandem-bike with his wife.

When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009 he didn’t let that stop his active lifestyle because he wasn’t going to let cancer define him. He didn’t sit home with a ‘why me’ attitude because he was determined to not let this disease take over his life. He was thankful for each day that he woke up. His faith never wavered, he vowed to fight it with everything he had – and he did, bravely and with a strong, positive spirit, for nearly 3 years.

I don’t think there was a person who met him who didn’t like him. I’ve heard from many people that he was such a genuinely nice guy with a good heart who easily accepted you in his life. He was generous with his time and helped those who needed it.

His words of wisdom were, “Be thankful for what you have and enjoy each day you’re given. And don’t get upset over the little things because it’s simply not worth it.”

His presence will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

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21 comments:

Zoey's mom, Heather said...

Beautiful tribute Michelle. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Still so unbelievable, is it not? For me, I cannot believe it has been 2 weeks. In so many moments, it feels like much longer and then in the next breath, like yesterday. I miss her desperately,as I am sure you miss your dad the same.

Sending prayers of peace to you. Hoping you are distracting yourself a bit at the convention. will continue to keep you close to my heart as you navigate these days.

Stephanie said...

Not even trying to stop the tears! Michelle this is beautiful!

Kerri said...

Beautiful, simply heartfelt. I love that what you remember most about him is that he simply got you thru the tough times with his love. His love will get you thru the pain of losing him.

ckbrylliant said...

Lovely. Praying for you.

my family said...

that is beautiful michelle. He sounds like such an amazing man and father/grandfather.

hugs

Mom24 said...

Great job Michelle. Again, I'm so sorry for the loss. What a beautiful tribute.

MIL said...

I would have loved to gotten to know your Dad better. Your eulogy was beautiful and I'm sure he was smiling down on you as you told everyone how wonderful a man he was.

Renee said...

Such a beautiful post! Keeping you all in my thoughts an prayers.

Bailey's Leaf said...

It was wonderful to read about the life that you shared with your dad. My sympathy for your loss.

Bailey's Leaf said...

It was wonderful to read about the life that you shared with your dad. My sympathy for your loss.

Nan said...

A beautiful tribute. Tears. Hugs.

ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

HUGS Michelle! You wrote an absolutely beautiful eulogy. Your father sounds like he was a wonderful man and father.

Beth said...

Beautiful tribute to your Dad. Keeping your family in our prayers.

Laura said...

We are so very, very sorry for the loss of your dad!

Shelley said...

A beautiful eulogy Michelle. I love your Dad's words of wisdom too...

Stephanie Bissol said...

Well written. He is so proud of you!

Stephanie Bissol said...

Well written. He is so proud of you!

starrlife said...

Such a wonderful tribute! Grief comes in waves and never really goes away in my experience but it does get manageable and you have so much love around you. He sounds like an amazing guy!

Nisa Dunmyer said...

That was beautiful, Meesh. Love you.

krlr said...

I'm so sorry you lost your dad. This was a beautiful tribute - he sounds like a wonderful man. Please accept my condolences.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Michelle for filling me in on your eulogy on your Dad. No I hadn't read it but I am positive he would be proud of you. I remember almost everything that you mentioned like it was yesterday and I realize how my time is coming too. It is good to know that one of my best buddies will be there to greet me. I too am proud of you. I remember once at Hanscom when you needed a shoulder and thankfully Deb and I were there for you. Miss you Miss all the kids and especially will always miss Dennis. He was and will always be someone special to me. All of our love to you Ken and Deb Bechard