Sunday, December 11, 2011

October 28, 2011 Pop's Eulogy

When I was told I was doing the eulogy I figured I should start with a reading from the Bible. But to be honest, all my biblical knowledge comes from the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. So I will go with what I know, a reading from the Book of Prince Album 6 Verse 1:
“Dearly beloved
We are gathered here 2day 2 get through this thing called life
Electric word life, it means 4ever and that's a mighty long time
But I'm here 2 tell U there's somethin' else
The afterworld
A world of never ending happiness
U can always see the sun, day or night”
That’s where Don is now and we are here to celebrate his life and see what lessons we can learn from Don’s life. I met Don as a 20 year old boy that wanted to date his oldest daughter, Christy. When I think back on that now I would have taken me aside and said “if you do anything to hurt my little girl, they will find parts of your body in six different counties!” But that was not Don’s style. He gave me the benefit of the doubt and welcomed me into his home to be part of his family. It turns out that he was like that long before I came along because the Mazrimas house was where all the neighborhood kids hung out. The strong influence Don had on those kids while they were growing up can be best described in a quote from one of those neighborhood kids, Jill who said “he was the dad I wished I had.”
Here are a few of the things I learned about my father-in-law over the past 26 years.
He worked hard to take care of his family. He enjoyed life. He loved parties, family gatherings and just hanging out in the yard on a beautiful summer day. He loved the outdoors especially hunting and fishing. He passed that love of the outdoors on to his kids during their annual trips to Canada. His actions spoke louder than his words. When my friend Mike told me he never heard Don yell at anyone, I had to agree with him. Don was always willing to help a friend, family or neighbor. He probably took care of others more often than he took care of himself. And because he lived his life like that, I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about him.

There was one exception to Don’s generosity. He had two things that I’ve always wanted, the jukebox in the basement and his oldest daughter. Well twenty-three years ago, he shook my hand and gave me his daughter. But he must have loved that jukebox more than Chrissy because he never gave me that jukebox. All joking aside, I believe Don thought that living a simple life was all you needed to be happy. And if you don’t believe me, then maybe you’ll believe his granddaughter Kristian who told me “Grandpa liked popcorn and beer”. It doesn’t get any better or simpler than that. 
We all wonder what we might say when the doctors tell us that there is nothing else than can do for us, so let me tell you the amazingly simple and yet very powerful words that Don told his family as they stood around his hospital bed. “I had a good life”. I think those words were his way of comforting them. Right up until the end, Don lived his entire life caring more about those around than himself. As I looked at all the pictures of Don up here, I noticed one thing. He has a huge smile in almost every picture. So I ask one thing of you on Don’s behalf, smile whenever you think of him and even if the memories cause tears to flow keep that smile on your face.
I have one more thing to say. I told Chrissy I wanted to say a little something at her dad’s funeral and somehow I ended up having to do the eulogy. There was one thing that I could do better than Don. I’m better at being a smart ass. Over the years we would tease each other but I always got in the last word. As usual Don, I’m getting it again. As you all know, Don was a lifelong Cubs fan. So when my White Sox won the World Series, I was surprised he survived that. And like millions of Cubs fans before him, he lived a lifetime without seeing his Cubbies win a World Series. So as you pass through the Pearly Gates Don, you can ask that eternal question to your maker, “God why do you hate the Cubs?”

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