Thursday night (the night before we flew home from Houston), my dad started singing to my mom “que sera sera, what will be will be” (an old Doris Day song that I had to look up because I had never heard it before). It was just a couple hours after Dr. Wolff came in to talk to my parents and say goodbye to them. I wasn’t in the room for most of the conversation, but I understand that Dr. Wolff told my dad he had fought hard and encouraged him to be at peace and to know that his family would be ok. When my mom and I left the hospital that night, he told my mom he loved her most, and she told him she loved him more. That was an old habit of theirs – arguing about which was greater, “love you most” or “love you more”.
By Friday morning when we returned, he was much more groggy than usual, and his speech wasn’t what it was the night before. He was still communicating, but it was much more difficult and he certainly wasn’t singing or bantering. We left the hospital Friday afternoon, and although I know my dad was grateful to be flying home, the flight home was very uncomfortable and difficult for him. Despite that, he was able to communicate with Allie and Jordan on Friday when he arrived home, and when I got to the house Saturday morning he asked for Sidney. We brought her in and he got to see her smile at him and they blew each other kisses.
Things deteriorated pretty quickly from there, and he passed away early this afternoon.
I’m sorry to be the one to deliver the blow. I wish I didn’t have to. Really, I wish the blow had never come.
I knew my dad would want me to write one final post though. I know he would want me to let everyone know the news, and to once again express his gratitude for the love and support he received in response to his blog posts. He would also want me to thank Hospice of Dayton for the great care they provided in our home over the last couple days.
As part of this final post, I include my eulogy to my dad. My dad specifically told me that he only wanted one eulogy at his funeral. He felt that people attending a funeral don’t want to sit through more than one eulogy, and that multiple eulogies are repetitive anyway. I knew my brother would feel strongly about speaking at my dad’s funeral (which will be Tuesday at 2pm at Temple Israel, followed by burial at Beth Abraham Synagogue, with Shiva Tuesday night and Wednesday night at 7pm at my parent’s home) so I decided I would share my thoughts here.
Any of you who knew my dad know that he was a great man. He loved his family, and he was so worried about leaving us. He was worried about Sidney remembering him and his future grandchildren knowing him. To say that was heartbreaking to hear him say is an understatement. I promised my dad that Sidney would remember him and that his future grandchildren would know his legacy. To make sure he knows I’ll uphold this promise, this eulogy is a list of the things we will tell them. Here are a few of the things I want my dad’s grandchildren to know:
1) Papa was a life long entrepreneur. He started finding ways to earn money when he was just a kid. He mowed lawns like most kids did, but he was also a janitor in a church, worked at a Wendy’s, and worked at a clothing store. He didn’t work because he had to – he was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to provide him with everything he wanted or needed. He worked because he wanted to. He worked because he believed in working hard as a part of having a fulfilling life.
2) Papa was the smartest man I’ve ever known. His intellect wasn’t evident from his grades in school or in college though. Because of that, people thought he was just street smart. That wasn’t true though, he just didn’t care about proving himself in a school setting. But because of his lackluster grades, when he graduated from college, he had trouble finding a job, and that led him to start a computer store. That business morphed into a computer cable company that Papa and his two business partners, Jeff and Geoff, ran successfully almost my whole life. When they sold the company in 2014, they had over 1,000 employees and the company was earning over $150million in revenues a year. His company was his pride and joy, second to only his family.
3) Papa believed in charity and in giving to those less fortunate than us. He was involved in countless charitable organizations, not the least of which was Dayton’s Feast of Giving (which he directed for the last 10ish years) and Dayton’s Children’s Hospital (he was the Chairman of the Board for several years). But more than that, he believed in helping people. He helped people one on one, often without them knowing. He cared about his friends and his employees. When he heard of an employee who was struggling with an illness, he did things like help pay their bills, make sure their jobs were held for them, and/or make sure they were still paid. He also helped connect people with jobs – either at his company or somewhere else. I remember being in high school and him sitting me down to explain to me about how he did this – he wanted me to know and understand how important this was to him.
4) Papa believed in working toward goals. He believed in setting a “stretch” goal, working to achieve it, and adjusting the goal as necessary to accomplish it. Failing and giving up wasn’t a part of his vocabulary or his experience; rather, he believed in adjusting the goal and working toward something more realistic. He always focused on possibilities rather than obstacles. He saw problems as opportunities, and he took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. He said that he had lucky breaks his whole life, but I don’t believe that was true. I believe his outlook and his sheer will led to all of the good things he experienced in life.
5) Papa put all of himself into EVERYTHING he did, not just his work and his family. He was constantly finding new hobbies and delving head first into them. He went through a playing guitar phase (years after he stopped playing in his band), a spinning phase, a bourbon phase, a biking phase, a wine phase, the list goes on and on. He believed in living life to the fullest, and he emulated that by his actions. He had an active social calendar and filled his days and nights with activities. He would want you to live your lives to the fullest as well.
6) Papa loved golf. He loved watching it and he loved playing it. No pressure, but he would love for you to try golf out.
7) Papa wanted the best for his family. He wanted to take you on family vacations. He wanted to buy you your first car when you turn 16. He wanted to take you to Vegas when you turned 21. He instructed your Nana to do this instead of him (and I’ll do my best to make sure she does), but I want you to know that when these things happen that it was because of him. Papa loved you all so much, even those of you he didn’t get to meet.
I love you dad. I’ll miss you every day.
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