Thursday, July 13, 2023

My Father Crossed Over on Fathers Day. Here's His Special Eulogy

I AM sharing the eulogy I wrote and delivered for my Dad. My Sister, Mother and other family members all helped inspired my writings of this special Eulogy. I only hope he's proud!  He is one of the Kings from the Emerald Ray. 

For: June 29, 2023 Intro: (adlib) Words about Dad wondering about his own eulogy after attending a funeral for another family member; and why these words and lessons are important, for us. 

Dad, affectionately known by others as: Jim, Jimmy, James, Pop Pop, Mr Alfe, Alf, The Alf man, Uncle Jim, The Unk, and others I'm sure, was a Man of Honor. 

He instilled a lot of great qualities in those who knew him… Dad and I used to butt heads, a LOT, when I was growing up; but I'm so grateful we had time to heal from the lessons we both learned, before his disease overtook his ability to communicate through mere words alone… which he considered very important, especially considering his career. 

His life was one of many experiences, not the least of which included raising a family - which for him, was a pillar and healthy dose of pride - something I didn’t fully understand, about how he felt about me, until we made our peace. 

Dad was born in Philadelphia on August 12, 1945, (77 years, 10 months and 17 days ago). He grew up in Havertown with his parents, Pasquale and Marie; and his two older sisters, Connie and Pat. 

Whenever Dad would talk about memories from growing up, he always spoke about his two sisters with such great pride and admiration; we all knew how much he loved them and their families. In fact, they were both Queens in his eyes and always remained that way; including when he would jump out from behind a couch or hide in a closet to scare them! 

He also used to talk about his Mother with such great admiration and never once uttered a bad word about her, or his sisters - and he remained deeply connected to them and their growing families, whom he loved dearly. He shared the happy memories often, of how his Mother would have Sunday family dinners; and it didn’t matter what time the aunts and uncles or others surprise guests would come in… the door was always open and your were always welcome… and she would always feed you; even if she just finished putting away her 7 course meals (he would remember fondly). 

Dads Mother passed away before I was even two, but she got to see the house Dad and Mom eventually bought at 23 Mulberry Lane, prior to us moving in. The way my Dad spoke about her always made a very early impression on me that instilled the raw need to embody at least some of these qualities. Or at the very least, to try. 

My Dad had an interesting relationship with his Father. Later in life, I got to see how he was there for his aging Father in every way he could, despite any differences: as he would for anyone. My grandfather would come over often and dad would play cards with him at the table before dinner, pinochle was their favorite. There are many memories of my dad being there for my grandfather when he needed him the most. 

They shared a love for numbers, whether just seeing the most meaningful ones, or actually playing them… Whenever dad would win anything from the lottery, the slots or the races, he always made sure to share with his family. He was the definition of a generous man. 

He loved horses, especially the ones that raced, lol, and enjoyed the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

My dad attended Sacred Heart Grade School in Havertown and made some seriously great, life-long friends, who also held loyalty, honesty and hard work as core principles. He went to Monsignor Bonner High School and met even more friends, who held the same core values and whom most remained friends for the rest of his time here. 

Dad knew he was lucky to have found these guys early in life, with such an incredible group of rare and genuine friends, including a full-on blood brother! Dad didn’t have best friends per say, but rather, he had many close and loyal friends in his tribe. There’s so many stories to tell and I hope you’ll get to hear some later today; and that goes for everyone.. 

Dad’s oldest sister Connie married Vince, a court reporter and Dad loved and looked up to him greatly. Uncle Vince took him under his wings and Dad followed in his footsteps to become a Court Reporter, which became his life-long career. He has a supreme work ethic and instilled that quality in both myself and my sister by his example. 

Mom and Dad met at a burger joint named Scotties, which was across from the now, Cardinal O'hara High School. I understand they fell for each other rather quickly. And then early in his career, Dad was drafted into the United States Army and proudly served his Country during the Vietnam war. He was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and there were many miles traveled back and forth from there to Pennsylvania so he could see mom… and many letters too, including a couple poems written back-and-forth teasing each other about who’s Chevy was better… and why, lol. 

Mom eventually moved down there with Dad after they got married in April 1967, until Dads time actively serving his Country was done. They didn’t waste any time starting a family. My sister was born just 10 months later and then I came rushing in 15 months after her. 

Dad’s Mother crossed over very suddenly, after getting to see the house our family (and eventually mine) grew up in. It rocked his world. Something many of you know, and we all get to experience at some point; Dad now knew what it meant to experience the loss of a parent…but he held his head high and continued on the best he could; and then, along came my brother just a few short years after. (breath…) 

Despite Dads best efforts to continue on in the face of loss, God had it in his plan to take my brother, his son, back to Him, a little early. And we all know that’s not in the natural order of things; a similar challenge I faced as well with my oldest son, James. This is one of those life challenges that nobody wants! (be strong!!) 

Dad not only lost a son, but now, a 30-year-old grandson in 2018, whom he adored. Sorry to say, this is when Dads decline really sped up… but he continued to carry his cross until it was his time to meet his Maker and reunite with his two Namesakes, his son and grandson - along with all his ancestors in The 7th Heaven. 

Dad and Mom opened their home to me, my 4 children and our 3 pets when I needed them the most. It wasn’t always easy and I'm not going to stand here and tell you that he was always right, or that he was a perfect man. In fact, he would be disappointed with me if I did, because he wasn’t. 

He definitely could have a temper at times and after many years to reflect on this, I see he held that righteous rage inside, after such a tragedy as losing your son - something nobody can judge until you go through it yourself. He kept it all inside and tried so hard to protect his family from the terrible grief that overshadowed them all. 

Dad was a full-blown Protector and he would want me to speak my truth and that is one of the many things he taught me, very well. To speak my truth. I can only hope he would be proud of how I'm speaking about him today because in my eyes, he truly is one of the King Warriors of Peace, Love and Healing from The Emerald Ray; and he is now wearing his crown once again. 

He is a born Leader and he took care of his tribe. Dad made friends wherever he went. He was friendly, helpful, compassionate and fiercely loyal and he thoroughly enjoyed Family time. He believed in God and faithfully attended church here weekly. 

When Maria and I were growing up, Dad would take our family to the Nice and Sweet shop for ice cream after church on Sundays, if we behaved - which clearly we didn’t get to go every week, lol. 

He made sure we took a family vacation every summer to either Virginia Beach to visit his sister Patty and her family and/or the Jersey Shore. We also got to go to Disney World, Lake George, Host Farms, Hershey Park and other places to visit friends out of state, like New York, Ohio and Massachusetts. He taught us how to body surf and loved, Loved, LOVED swimming in the ocean and catching a wave. 

He drove us wherever we needed to go and was always there for every game or activity we were involved in. Except for one year, Dad was making a very loud point to my sister and I… and he didn’t show up to a few softball games… You just don't know and appreciate what you got until it’s not there, right?! (Great Lesson;) 

Dad and Mom were always at every game for both Maria and I, for our countless teams from basketball to softball, through many years of playing; in addition to the many events, activities, celebrations, gatherings, gigs and awards throughout our lives. He would spend time with Maria and I, whether in the backyard playing catch and practicing our skills, playing croquet, badminton, horseshoes and other family friendly games; grading us on our gymnastic antics and even rating our diving skills at mom mom and pop pops pool - or out front shooting hoops… he loved all of that and so did we. 

He was always teaching and supporting us. 

He loved BBQs and cookouts on the grill. He loved being in nature and would frequently take walks or jogs at Ridley Creek State Park; and all through the neighborhood. He loved bowling and was in a weekly league on Wednesday nights for many years. He even got my son James to join and taught him the ways of the bowling leagues. 

He was so proud of his family - all of them - and he was absolutely a social butterfly. 

Even when you made a choice he didn’t agree with, he was still there to support you. When there was disagreement, he may not have always forgiven you right away, he definitely could hold a grudge, but not for too long. His heart was too big to hold on to that and as he got older and wiser, he grew even more in so many ways to round out that heart of gold he has. 

Oh how he loved his food: especially his 2 favorites, crabs and spaghetti and Italian cream cake. We chuckle now, remembering all the funny noises he would make eating (and after)... lol. He would always try to keep your spirits up through the tough times and bring a smile and many belly laughs (to the dinner table and elsewhere). 

He always had a story to share, a movie recommendation, or a clip from TV he recorded to show us. He loved to stay up-to-date on the news and would listen to KYW on his portable radio multiple times a day; as well as Angelo Cataldi for sports and the money guys. (He listened to the original podcasts). Dad used to talk to me about the grids going down from a solar flare or a potential economic collapse, before anyone was ever talking about that. 

He would often treat us to: his singing in the shower in the mornings; and sometimes he would even belt out some opera in there, (I kid you not… Maria said that was her second alarm when she overslept in high school. lol

He enjoyed many genres of music - Especially The Doo Whop era, The Platters, The Supremes, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Fats Domino, The Rolling Stone and The Beatles just to name a few; and we would listen to his old 8-track tapes in that awesome GTO, (the GOAT, we called it) while taking family rides with the top down, out to Dairy Queen. (Dairy Queen, but we can’t go… and it’s open! LOL!

He was always available to help anyone with anything, especially his family and friends. He was a great communicator and if you needed him for anything, he was there, no questions asked - you could count on him - and that’s a very important living example we always strive to achieve. Whether you were moving or if you just needed help (or support) in some other way, he was there for you. 

Dad retired in 2012 when he first started noticing changes due to his illness. He was well-known and highly respected in his career for producing excellent, top-notch work; and for just being a great guy. We have been seriously grieving the loss of my Dad for over 3 years now…

And one last important thing he taught me, is that your actions speak louder than your words, and to believe people when they show you who they are. Dad was a man of honor and he always tried to do what he felt was the right thing, but you knew you could always count on him to keep his word. 

I wanted to keep this under the time allotment and there’s just so much more that can be said and would best come from your mouths directly later today. 

At the end of the day, what else can I say about my dad that you don’t already know for yourselves? He was there for you; as a colleague, a friend, a neighbor, an uncle, a brother, a cousin, a grandfather, a father and a husband and we’re lucky he was in our lives. 

One (more) last thing: Dad had these funny sayings or chants and I’ll leave you with two: 

1) “Whatever you do…. DO IT WELL!” 

2) “YOU are the baby, you will always be the baby and YOU can kiss the baby!


We Love You Forever!