I didn’t take many photos – too much else to deal with.
Ruth asked if I wanted to speak and I supposed I did, but wasn’t sure what I was going to say. I work best to deadlines, so I pulled a few notes together in the car on the way to the crematorium. What’s below is more or less what I remember of what I said, but I’d welcome corrections from anyone who was there and remembers more than I do.
My Eulogy for My Dad
Every life has a million stories, and we all see those stories from different angles.
Dad was a great storyteller, and not one to let too much truth get in the way of a good story.
We’ll surely be sharing lots of those today.
I was born in 1962, when my dad was only 23 years old – barely an adult himself. In some ways he never grew up.
But today I want to concentrate on the good things I learned or inherited from him. A lot could be said about nature vs nurture, but I had plenty of both from Dad. He was the one fixed point in nearly 49 years of my turbulent life.
My dad had a strong sense of justice. Both of my parents were active in America’s Civil Rights movement – crosses burned on our lawn – which, in a way, culminated in the election of President Obama. I worked a little on Obama’s campaign for that reason.
This sense of justice came from his love of people, and his belief that everyone in this world should have equal rights. We’ve already heard that Dad loved musicals, and this brings to mind a line from the great American musical Oklahoma!, expressing a very American attitude: “I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else, but I’ll be damned if I ain’t just as good.”
He believed that everyone had a right to equal treatment, health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness, and he worked towards that in many parts of the world. Although I’ve spent most of my career in the corporate world, some of that has rubbed off on me in the way I approach my job and the people I work with.
Another trait of Dad’s was that he knew Storytelling, and the uses of it. This has definitely carried over to me, including, as those closest to me know, the idea that any story worth telling once is worth telling again. 😉
Dad had great courage, including the courage to live an unconventional life, which he did so thoroughly that he left me as a teenager with nothing to rebel against. I had to retreat into bourgeois respectability for 20 years. But I’m recovering.
Perhaps he paid for it all, he certainly put us through it. But I think he would have said, with the great songwriter Kris Kristofferson: “The going up was worth the coming down.”
…then we all went home and drank a lot.
“He’s a walking contradiction, partly truth, and mostly fiction…”