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Friday, November 22, 2013

μονῳδία aionioß: Eulogy

Eulogy for my Dad: Friday, November 16th, 2012

I had asked my father's oldest cousin, Glenn Williams, to say a few words about my father as he remembered him growing up. Glenn recalled several events from his youth, including my Dad's involvement in a WWII air raid siren test in Kingston in ~1942, and Bud's ( my father's nickname ) recurring nightmares after coming home from the Korean War. Glenn did a fine job.

I begin here.
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Thanks, Glenn.

{ At this point, without written notes, I told a brief story about a small black Bible that my father had with him on the front lines in Korea. I read one of the passages my father had written within, and then walked over to my Dad's casket and placed the Bible in his hands. It will remain with him forever }

Before I begin my eulogy, I would like to thank the entire staff at Tiffany Court and the caregivers from Hospice of the Sacred Heart. There are those that believe there are no such things as angels but, respectfully, I beg to disagree. I have witnessed them in action, and their names are Amy, Sara, Shannon, Maribeth, Izzie, Julie, Maria, (Deacon) Patrick, Diane and Jessica.

( Talking directly to Deacon Pat ) You may think that we don’t know who or what you are, but I’m here to tell you…we do.

Eulogy comes from a Greek word that roughly translates as “Good words.”  After surviving  - and some would say just barely – the most recent presidential election cycle, I think we’ve had enough words thrown at us. So rather than trying to recap my father’s 82+  years of living in words, I would ask that you look around this room and in the others at the pictures and articles taken throughout my father’s time on earth to get some small sense and measure of the man that I called Dad.

For those that know our family, it goes without saying that Memorial Day is and will always be a cornerstone of the times and ties that bind us. I would like to read a speech that I gave this past Memorial Day at Post 395 of the American Legion right down the street:

"On Memorial Day in 1891, my great-grandfather, Edward C. Williams, first marched in the West Side Memorial Day parade at the age of 10 playing this Civil War fife. Over the next 50 years, he was joined by his brothers – Samuel and Thomas – and by drummer Arthur Covert. In 1941, on the 50th anniversary of that first march, all four of them took the “last man pledge” and promised to keep the unit marching until there was no one left.
One by one, they passed away.
When Eddie’s grandson, Donald Williams, my father, returned from serving in Korea in 1953, he joined his grandfather and continued a tradition that has spanned 122 years…and counting.
In total, five generations of our family have participated in today’s ceremonies to ensure that Eddie’s decision – at the age of 10 – to respectfully honor those who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address “gave the last full measure of devotion” would span 122 years and continue a tradition of honoring ALL those who served and gave their lives so that we may live freely. To paraphrase what someone said recently – for those who enjoy freedom, every day is Memorial Day.
I appreciate being allowed to speak, and to my father for your 60th year of keeping the ‘Spirit of ’76’ alive – we wish you many, many more."
For those that were not there, I would like you to know that my Dad received a standing ovation on his last Memorial Day on this earth.

My sister and I spent almost every waking moment with our father over the last three days of his life. We were also there to witness his passing. It was a truly profound experience. Our parents teach us many lessons throughout our lives. I am now beginning to realize that, perhaps, my father saved his greatest lesson for last. Before our very eyes, we witnessed our father taking that next step toward the greatest unknown with dignity, and with honor, and with courage. That last shared moment with my father will be forever etched in here (touching head) and in here (touching heart).  

My Dad had many stories, sayings, one-liners… and nicknames, that he shared with us throughout his life. I was “Moose”, and my sister Diana was “Bugs” (for Bugs Bunny). And more often than not, he would end our telephone conversations with “Catch you later.”

My friends – later comes sooner than you think.

As we progress through these final steps of remembering and honoring my father’s life, I would ask - as a final tribute to his time on earth – that you say a prayer for his eternal soul and do your best – every day – to replace all the technology-driven texting and tweeting with touching and talking. You will never regret it.

At some unknown hour in the blink of an eye, we will all be facing our inevitable fates. It is my hope that when it is my turn to perform that final task, I can do so with even half the courage, honor and dignity of my father.

So Dad, from Moose and Bugs, until we meet again…Catch you later.
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Some final thoughts on this topic in a few.

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