A Light Goes Out
My dad was diagnosed with lymphoma in late July. The prognosis was optimistic, and he started chemotherapy in early August. I spent the first week of September with him, taking him to his second round of chemo and making sure he was settled and comfortable on his own. Admittedly, never having been sick before, he was impatience with the process, wanting to feel better immediately. Last Tuesday morning, September 8, my father unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. The loss to myself, my family and his large circle of friends is unspeakable. Our hearts are broken.
Last Thursday afternoon, we gathered for a memorial service to celebrate my father’s life. The room was filled with our family, our extended family, and many, many friends across all generations. My sisters and I, my brothers-in-law, and two of my father’s closest friends gave tributes to this special man who touched and enriched so many lives.
This gives just a snapshot of my dad, but I want to share the words I wrote and read at his service.
I’m overwhelmed by all of the family and friends that have joined us here today to celebrate my dad’s life. It’s so comforting to have all those who loved him gathered together to share our sadness but also to remember the good things he brought into our lives.
My dad reveled in life’s simple pleasures: top among them, in no particular order, cars, sports, a passion for his favorite foods, and women.
He was fun to have for a father. Time spent with him usually meant some kind of adventure in search of one of these passions (well, not the women). I have so many memories that begin with “taking a ride”, if I was lucky, alone with him in his beloved Corvette, top down, but the ones in the family station wagon were memorable too. We might go out to Baskin & Robbins for ice cream or to a bakery to pick up a special loaf of rye bread or a box of white cream-filled donuts. On a Sunday morning, a particular treat would be to ride to the BagelMaster. This was the one and only time we were allowed to eat in the car, as long as we ate a bagel that was hot.
Even though my dad and I hadn’t lived in the same city for decades, we remained close, talking each week. When he needed help this summer, we spent some quality time together, more time than we had spent together in a long time, both in person and on the phone.
Dad was a wonderful brother. His relationship with our Aunt Alida served as a role model for my sisters and me. Just as with Richard and Alida, Jane, Jennifer and I are not just sisters, but friends who enjoy spending time together. What a gift to us.
My dad was a loyal friend. Look around at how many of his friends are here today. He kept up with friends from throughout his life: grammar school, summer camp, different jobs, different marriages. Once you were his friend, it was forever. He truly loved helping his friends, though he wasn’t as good at being helped. Even so, Dad’s friends went above and beyond in lending him love and support over the past couple months when he needed it most.
And he was good at falling in love. It took a long time, and multiple tries, but finally, he met the love of his life, Susan, on a tennis court in Florida. His devotion and tenderness towards her was heartwarming, and we feel lucky to have Susan as part of our family.
It’s hard to come up with the words for how much I will miss Dad now that he’s gone. A hole was ripped in the fabric of our lives. Over time, I hope to be able to mend that hole by weaving in stories about him, memories of a life well-lived and well-loved.
I love you, Dad, and I’ll miss you every day.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out with comforting words of sympathy. Your support gives me strength to move through the days ahead.