My husband, and father to our daughter, died five years ago. Our daughter was twenty-five years old. I was in my mid-sixties. After he had died, my daughter asked me what I believed her father’s primary reason for being on Earth had been. I thought for only a moment, and then I said to her, “I believe Daddy was placed on Earth to be your father and my husband.” To him, family was everything. For that reason, my daughter and I knew him better than any other living person. I told my daughter that, because of that, the two of us had to deliver his eulogies on the day of his funeral. It was a difficult task to do, for both of us, but we did so, in tribute to him. Below are our eulogies, delivered for our husband and father, in April, 2007. (Note: “Graceland” by Paul Simon was played quietly as background music in the funeral hall where my husband’s funeral was given, as family and friends entered and departed. “Graceland” was one of my husband’s favorite songs, which we three enjoyed listening to, and singing along with Simon, in our high top blue van when we took vacations together.)
Eulogy for her father, delivered by our daughter:
“Some people define themselves by their career, their religion, their politics, but to my father, he defined himself simply as husband to my mother and father to me. And because of this, I loved him more than life itself.
My father was not perfect, but I think this is why we loved him – faults and strengths alike. Dad told corny jokes that sometimes didn’t make sense. He loved the finer things in life, but sometimes didn’t concern himself with the financial ramifications. However, Dad was a good-hearted, charismatic man who had a strong inner core underneath his ‘laissez-faire’ exterior. As testimony to his inner strength and love for family, I want to share with you moments from his final hours.
A week and a half ago, I was at work in Florida when I got a call that we all dread to receive. ‘Your dad has just had a massive seizure and was rushed to the hospital,’ said my boyfriend, who was fortunately with my mother when she, also, heard the news. Because my father was in perfect health at a young 60, this news shook me to my core, and I immediately knew that things would never be the same.
My sweet uncle quickly drove me to Atlanta, and after driving five hours from Florida, I was fortunate enough to see my father alive that evening. Not everyone gets that chance. As we know now, Dad had a massive stroke in the left side of his brain, and the seizure was in response to the initial stroke.
By Thursday evening, the stroke had ended, the damage was done, but my father’s spirit remained. Mom and I separately sneaked in to visit him during the night, which broke the hospital’s visitation rules, and as I sat beside my unresponsive father, he suddenly became… responsive. One eye opened, and he squeezed my hand hard. Knowing that Dad knew I was beside him, I quickly said, ‘I love you, Daddy,’ and he groaned back.
At this point, he couldn’t talk, but Dad did everything in his power to let me know that he loved me. As a human, I will never know why his life was cut short, and selfishly, I want 10 million more memories with him. But I thank God that he fought long enough to give me this moment during his final hours.
Over the next two days, Dad’s condition declined, yet in his final minutes, he proved his dignity, class, inner strength and deep love for family. Last Saturday night, Mom asked me to keep Dad company in the ICU for an hour while she slept. As soon as Mom left his room, I suddenly had this eerie feeling that Dad was going to pass away in the next hour…just as Mom felt that Dad would have a shorter life a year ago. I could have easily dismissed this feeling as simply fear, but just in case, I spent his last hour telling Dad funny memories of our family.
Scientifically, I know Dad was primarily brain dead at this point, but I hope that, on some level, his spirit heard me. I watched my father take his last breath, and immediately thereafter, I ran into the hospital waiting room to get Mom. I felt as if I was running in slow motion because this entire experience was so surreal. As Mom ran back to his ICU room with me, I remember feeling upset and disappointed because I thought Mom missed his death.
Miraculously, as we entered his room, Dad’s heart was still beating…several minutes after his last breath. It was as if Dad fought to stay alive until Mom arrived, and as she threw her arms around him, he flat lined. His death was somewhat fitting: I saw his last breath, and Mom felt his final heart beat.
I was torn on whether or not to share this rather dramatic, personal story with you today, but in honor to my father, only this story could demonstrate his strength, his spirit and his piercing love for me and my mother. Even until his last moment, Dad was able to find strength, from the seemingly impossible, to express love for those who mattered most.
Je t’aime, mon pere. Je t’aime toujours.”
Eulogy for my husband, delivered by me:
“Good morning and welcome. My daughter and I thank you for coming to the funeral of our husband and father. We hope that you will join us in our home for a reception after the funeral. My husband’s heart was in his home, and you will be able to see his spirit there in the shrubs he planted, in the picnic table he assembled, as well as in his beloved grass. As you enter the subdivision, please notice the shrubs planted in front of the brick wall which has the subdivision’s sign on it. He designed the layout for, purchased, and planted those shrubs, with the Homeowners Association approval, for the betterment of the entire subdivision, which he also considered to be his ‘home.’
My husband was a man of deep love which he showed not by words, nor by passionate dramas, but by planting a bush which showed his love and which he knew would show forth his love for years to come. For my 60th birthday, he bought me a yellow Jasmine bush which I treasure and which he planted for me next to the fence around the back of our property. Though he didn’t tell me this, I know, having been married to him for almost 28 years, that, in his heart, he wanted me to think of him and the love he had for me, through that bush, in the years that would follow.
Here is a telling story about my husband. When our daughter was in the second grade, her teacher assigned a project for all the children in her class in which they were to trace their parents’ roots and then show how they met through a chart. The first step was to have each parent, as well as the child, fill out a card which answered the question, ‘Who am I?’ On our daughter’s card, she wrote, ‘I am a good little girl.’ On my card, I wrote, ‘I am an explorer of the unknown.’ My husband wrote on his card, simply, ‘I am husband to my wife and father to our daughter.’ Only after that, did he describe his salad dressing business.
As his life was closed so unexpectedly, I believe he gave his very life for us. He never stopped working. He worked straight through for 38 years, and 41 years counting his three years in the U.S. Navy. He was tired. After his business was no longer sustainable, he went right out and took retail jobs for 16 years – which he hated – so that we could have our lovely home and so that our daughter could have the quality of education that was commensurate with her gifts. Yes, my husband was husband to me and father to our daughter, out of his deep love for us.
So, today, we come before you to HONOR such a man. He was husband to me – a faithful, true, and honorable husband whom I loved with all of my heart. He was father to his daughter and he worked to educate her well, and he left her, and me, with memories and love that will sustain us for the rest of our lives.
We were in a wonderful place in our marriage. We aged well together. We were good companions and were looking forward, in about a year, to a life of travel, good cuisine, and new adventures together. But God had another plan. I trust God’s plan and I praise His name. My husband is in a better world, waiting for me to join him one day. He no longer has to face more trials and tribulations in this world.
In a few minutes you will hear our family friend, sing the song, “Amazing Grace,” which we had requested to be played when our vows were renewed, the first time, for our eleventh wedding anniversary. On reflection, I see that God has been central to my life with my husband from the beginning. We were in our 30s when we met, and both of us had had first marriages that did not work out. We both wanted a home and family life and, through God’s grace, we found each other. I was almost 37 when we married and my husband was 33. Then, though I had lost a child at 6 months duration into the pregnancy in my first marriage, through God’s grace, I was able to give birth at age 39 to our beautiful daughter, who was a day late and weighed 10 and a half pounds when she was born, even though I had had the same difficulties in the pregnancy that I had had in the first pregnancy. And now, again through His grace, though my husband died prematurely, God allowed him to live long enough to help our daughter become a fully formed, lovely young woman, well-launched into young adulthood. Finally, I know that it was God’s grace to me that let me feel for about a year before he died that my husband may not have a long life. I did not know why I was experiencing those feelings because my husband seemed healthy and was a strapping and strong 60 year old man. I know, now, that those feelings were God’s Holy Spirit preparing me, early, for what would come to be. I am so grateful that I heeded those feelings and that I told my husband, more often in the last year, that I loved him. I was, also, more patient with him. I, even, would be grateful each day that he came home from work to me. God blessed me with this elevated consciousness and I am humbled by His amazing grace to me in preparing me early for my husband’s untimely death.
I want, now, to say publicly to my husband:
‘Honey, you were a wonderful husband and father to our daughter and me. We give honor to you today for all that you were and all you meant to us. We shall miss you terribly but we give thanks that you were ours and that you will always be ours. Until we meet again in Heaven, my dear husband,
I love you.
I honor you.
I praise you.
I thank you.’
Finally, my dear father gave me a calendar for my wedding to my husband that said, ‘Remember yesterday, Dream about tomorrow, but Live today.’ Through my life with my husband, I must add to that poem these words: ‘Let us live today in a higher level of consciousness, allowing God’s spirit to permeate our consciousness and actions to His eternal glory, day by day.’
Thanks be to God for the life of my husband, who planted seeds not only in our yard, but in our hearts. Those seeds will bloom forth with his love, and his story, into the next generation and the generations after that. Wait for me, honey. I love you.”