My Grandpa would have turned 86 today. Sadly, he died a week shy of his birthday. As a tribute to him, here's the eulogy I gave at his funeral on Tuesday.
First, I want to apologize to St. Peter for the big backup at the pearly gates. We figure Grandpa's been talking his ear off for the past couple days, sharing jokes and giving his thoughts on how the operation should run.
I've never had to speak at a funeral, but I have given a few toasts at weddings. So, I'll do what I know best and offer a toast of sorts to my Grandpa:
To Grandpa ... For serving our country in World War II:
As my dad wrote in Grandpa's obituary, he truly was a member of our "greatest generation". Of course, if you spent more than 5 minutes with him you would hear at least one, if not more, stories from the war. One of my regrets was not putting a camera or microphone in front of him to record his vast history, particularly the stories of the south pacific in the early 1940s.
To Grandpa ... For teaching us that old dogs can learn new tricks:
Anyone who knew my Grandpa prior to breaking his hip knows that he had some demons. But after breaking his hip 8 years ago, he was a changed man – for the better. Proof we can all change if we really want to.
To Grandpa ... For showing us you can find a friend anywhere:
I spent a lot of time with grandpa during the last week of his life. Everyday I was sitting in his room, someone would come to visit – be it Andrea, who worked with him at Dover Rehab; the lady who brought him his daily paper every morning and checked in on him before heading home for the day; or even one of the staff sneaking in to watch Red Sox games with him at night. And of course, there was his friend Angie, who he met when he first moved to Charpentier Apartments. Even though I just met Angie the night before grandpa passed, I feel like I've known her for years. Grandpa had a special way of connecting with people and getting to know them. So this toast is to both him and those that have kept grandpa close to their hearts.
To Grandpa ... For always having a not-so-appropriate joke for all occasions:
Lets just say Christmas will never be the same without Grandpa’s annual Santa Claus joke.
To grandpa ... For his home remedies:
Like how to get rid of a cold: get a fifth of Old Crow, drink it. When you wake up in the morning, you won't know if you’re sick from the cold or the Old Crow.
Finally, to Grandpa ... For teaching me what's important:
This lesson from Grandpa came in his final days. As my wife Amy will tell you, I tend to sweat the small stuff and get absorbed in things that really aren't that important. Well, watching Grandpa struggle those final days truly put what is important in perspective: friends and family. Without them, we really have nothing. Grandpa didn't have much in the way of material possessions, but he is rich in the love of his family and friends as he heads into heaven to be reunited with my Nana and all those who have gone before him. For that lesson, I will be forever grateful.
Rest in peace Grandpa.