Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goodbye Dad

My father died peacefully on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Here's my eulogy
My Father's Eulogy

My name is Marcy, and for those who don't know me, I am Ron's only daughter. That said, I was probably responsible for most of my dad's gray hair.

I'll admit that for awhile I had a reputation as dad's wild child. Of course, that label stood in stark contrast to the way friends and family viewed my father. Whenever people spoke of my dad's character, they would often use the word, integrity. I looked up the term and according to Webster's Dictionary, integrity is the quality or state of being of sound moral principle. A person with integrity is honest, sincere and his actions are consistent with what he says. That would be my dad.

For as long as I can remember, my father would tell me you can do anything you want in this world, but you have to work hard for it—you HAVE to make sacrifices. He told me a dream come true wouldn't be joyous if it was simply handed to you. He said good decisions were the bricks that built good lives. On the other hand, if you made bad decisions and didn't live up to the expectations put upon you, there would surely be consequences.

I experienced that first hand when I was eight years old and my father shook my second-grade report card in my face and exclaimed that a D in math was simply unacceptable. I tried to reason with him by saying, I hated math, but I did like to read and write, and promptly noted the Bs I received in those subjects on my report card. I told him I wanted to be a writer, so what was the point of learning math?

He retorted that sometimes you have to work at things you don't like, because a well-rounded education would be essential to my success when I grew up someday. Since my teacher told him I failed to learn my multiplication tables, he made it his mission to teach every multiplication table--backward and forwards--that weekend. From sun up on saturday morning to late sunday night he drilled me with flash cards. 6X6 is 36is 24 blah blah blah. By Monday morning, I felt as though all those multiplication tables were branded into my brain for all eternity

About four years ago I was faced with a career transition, and I had to move from the world of publishing to the profession of sales. And when you're in sales, you've got to know how to increase numbers. I interviewed for a job with Reed Exhibtions and part of the hiring process entailed that I take a two hour test without the use of a calculator. I sailed through the reading and writing part. When I got to the math questions, my brain went into auto pilot and I answered the questions with relative ease. As it turned out, I got the job. That's when I realized dad was right. You have to have a modicum of education to get ahead in this world.

But dad wasn't all about teaching stern lessons to his kids. He had a lighter side, too. One of my first memories of my dad was of him taking me home from my grandparents house on one of those bitter, cold winter nights that Minnesota is famous for. The heat was blasting and the radio was in full volume.We listened to the Grand Canyon suite and he narrated the symphony, telling me the story of a donkey plotting up and down the canyon and finally racing back home. Then he'd change the channel and we'd
both sing along to Frank Sinatra's tune, It Was A Very Good year.

Dad loved music of all genres. He loved it when I'd play The Beatles song Michelle on the piano, and mention that he'd originally wanted to name me Michelle but there was already a Michelle in the Bruch family. He never got over the fact that I took Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water album to Florida and claimed it was his.

More recently at my home in Connecticut, I found him sitting alone in a dark living room singing along to Linda Rondstadt's rendition of the song What'll I Do. In that respect, he was just like his own father. In fact, over the past seven years when my mom and dad spent summers with me, I'd catch glimpses of both my grandmother and grandfather in dad's behavior. He could watch the History Channel solitarily for days by himself, which was just like his mom. Then he'd go out and have a cigarette in the front yard and do a meet and greet with the neighborhood. A radio announcer came to the door offering tapes of rare Norwegian music to my dad. The little boy next would always ask me when he was coming back to visit. That's when I saw Grandpa Bruch in Dad.

When I posted the news that my father passed away on Facebook, I received three heartfelt messages from our cousins in Norway—Ivar, Torleif and Randi. Randi message read: We are very saddened by your father's passing—we have many fond memories of him. Like my grandfather who got off the train in Denmark and was greeted by grandmother's family like a rock star, my dad reveled in the companyof my mother's Norwegian relatives.

Dad always wanted to lend me a helping hand in Connecticut. I would bring home Ikea furniture and he'd spend days putting together a bookshelf or hanging a light fixture. He was very slow and deliberate, reading the direction putting together a piece, then going out for a cigarette. 10 days later the project got done, but Mom would say hey it got done and it was done right. My dad's mantra was that of a turtle: slow and steady wins
the race.

One of the last memories I have of my dad was last December when we brought my brother back from Boston after his knee surgery. Tom and mom when in one car and dad and I drove in the other. Once again it was a cold winter night and the radio was on full blast, but this time I was driving. He started telling me stories of my great grandmother Bruch, who I had never known. He told me about grandpa Bruch's eccentric sister Aunt Clara, and Uncle Slim. He reminisced about spending summer's with his beloved grandma Christiansen and Grover as a child. By the time we got back to Connecticut, I felt blessed to have spent that three hours with him in the car.

During the last trip dad took to Connecticut last Christmas he told me about how he had become engaged to my mom right before he left for Army training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He bid a farewell to my mother at the airport. It was September and one of the top hits on the radio was September Song.

For those of you that attended my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, they sang September Song together and we've got the tape to prove it. I told my mother we should play it at his memorial service. I chose the Willie Nelson rendition because it has slowww, and steady tempo that is so characteristic of my father. Here's my father's letter to my mom.

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