Below is a copy of the eulogy that I gave at my grandfather's funeral in June 2009. It was difficult for me to go in front of hundreds of people and say these words at such a sad time, but I felt that it was something I owed him and a testament to my relationship with him. I miss him every single day of my life.
Before I start, I would just like to say that I know my Grandpa is looking down on us all right now thinking one of his most used and favorite phrases, “What an outfit!”
On behalf of my Uncle Bob, Auntie Debbie, and my father Ken, I would like to thank you all for coming today to celebrate my grandpa’s life.
I think the number of people present here today is indicative of the kind of man my grandfather was – caring, generous, and a family man. Be it with his wife, his three children or his 5 grandchildren, Brian, Kevin, David, Becky, and myself, or his 3 great-grandchildren, Garrett, Samantha, and Conner, my grandfather was always the happiest when he was surrounded by his family.
The love that he showed towards family was also reflected through his close relationship with the Danahey family. At family gatherings he was always treated like a king. The care and love they showed him throughout the years made him consider them his extended family.
When I was younger, I used to think that loving someone meant that you would cry when they passed away. Now that I’m older, I realize that loving someone is enjoying the time you spend together, the memories you make, and cherishing those memories for a lifetime. With either definition, past or present, I think it is obvious that we all loved my grandpa (and continue to love him) very much to this day.
Over the years I have learned many things from and about my grandpa, but I’d like to share just a few of those with you all today:
As you may have heard last night at the wake, one of the first things I learned growing up was that he loved to play practical jokes. Be it stealing the meat off my dad’s hamburger, telling misleading stories, or even hanging “someone’s” purple underwear from the dining room chandelier, my Grandpa would always try to get a laugh. His quick wit never failed him and would also draw smiles from everyone around him.
The second thing I learned is that he loved my grandma with all his heart. Never have I seen two people so dedicated to one another even after more than 50 years of marriage. The dedication and love they showed to one another and their family is something to be envious of. It is comforting to know that “Bob and Lou” are together once again in heaven, probably watching the Cubs game at a kitchen table, like they often did here with all of us.
And finally, a third thing I learned is my grandpa’s love for telling stories. Anyone who sat down and talked with him for 10 minutes would probably hear at least three different stories. Growing up, I have heard so many that I could probably recite them all verbatim for you, but instead I would like to share some of my own stories about my grandpa. These stories consist of some of my favorite memories.
When I was younger, I spent the night at my grandparents’ house on a regular basis. My grandma would go to bed early, and my grandpa and I would be up all night watching Nick-at-Nite. We would eat macaroni and cheese, double decker sandwiches, pancakes, buttered noodles…you name it…while watching some of our favorite shows like “I Love Lucy,” “Laverne and Shirley,” and “Happy Days.” Nights like these will always be ingrained in my memory as some of the best times with my grandpa, even if they were when I was about 7-8 years old.
Later on, in middle school, my dad and I got my grandpa out of the house to go fishing at a little pond at the park. Knowing how much my grandpa loved to fish when he was younger, we thought this would be a lot of fun to do together. My grandpa sat at a bench with his fishing pole, while my dad and I walked around the pond looking for fish biting. We were gone maybe 10 minutes, with no luck I might add, when we return to find my grandpa struggling to reel in a blue gill! There was actually a photo from this day on one of the picture boards at the wake.
My sophomore year of college, my grandpa decided that he wanted to come visit me at Indiana University in Bloomington, a 3.5 hour drive under normal circumstances. After a 6 hour drive one way consisting of bathroom breaks and an Egg McMuffin, my parents and Grandpa finally showed up at my apartment. My dad wheeled my grandpa all over campus, showing him classrooms, my favorite locations, and just taking in the scenery. We later took him to dinner at Cheeseburger in Paradise which he really enjoyed. However, he could never remember the name – when talking about it he would call “Joe’s Hamburger Shack,” “That burger joint,” or “Cheeseburger Palace.” After that day, he would ask me about once a month if I had been there and then go on about how much he enjoyed it.
This past summer my boyfriend and I took Grandpa out to dinner at a Japanese hibachi restaurant. For those of you who don’t know what hibachi is, it’s when the chef comes out to your table and cooks the food right in front of you and puts on a show. At one point, the cook was going around the table flipping pieces of food into each person’s mouth. When it was Grandpa’s turn, he was more than willing to give it a try. The chef tossed the first piece of chicken but it hit Grandpa in the eye. He thought this was absolutely hilarious and this whole event turned into one of his most recent stories.
I turned 21 this past February and was away at school for my birthday. My grandpa was upset that he couldn’t be with me, so he had my dad call the restaurant (Cheeseburger in Paradise) that I was at with my friends and asked that they bring me a little ice cream sundae and sing Happy Birthday. I found it incredibly touching that my grandpa would think to do this for me.
In addition to my stories, I thought I might add a few words or phrases that many of you may be able to recognize involving my grandpa: Big Wheel, the garage, polychoke, The Honeymooners, and the Cubbies.
My grandpa was lucky to have 3 children who were dedicated to his well-being and to caring for him. I could be here all day telling stories from my Uncle Bob, Auntie Debbie, and dad, but being the daddy’s girl that I am, I can’t help but comment on the extreme dedication my father Ken had towards Grandpa.
The father-son bond that I witnessed between these two is something unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Nicknames, routines, and inside jokes are just a few of the things that defined their relationship. My grandfather counted on my dad for everything and somehow I can’t help but do the same myself. I know that even though it will be hard for my dad to adapt to this new lifestyle without WANTING to care for my grandpa and spend time with him, I know that the memories and love he has for him will help him through this difficult time.
I hope that my reflections today have shed a light on how wonderful a person my grandpa was and how lucky I am to have had 21 special years with him. I know that my words here today could never do justice to the type of man he was or how we all feel about him, but I hope that when you leave today you will always remember to cherish the memories and never forget the happiness and laughter he brought to everyone who knew him.