As is known through Kabbalistic understanding, the soul is in transition after death for the week of mourning, Shiva. Therefore, we all attend our own funeral. With that in mind this eulogy is directed to you Dad.
I am speaking openly to you with all these mourners around to hear. I know you would want us to celebrate your life rather than mourn your death–and we will–but allows us to do a bit of both.
How much easier, Dad if you would have been less than you were. I could have made up some noble sounding descriptions which people would recognize right away as "eulogy talk".
But the problem is anything I say about you will just be words. Those of us fortunate enough to have known you, know the truth–words will never do you justice.
Perhaps a silent eulogy of the heart would be more appropriate–one you would hear as assuredly as you are with us today.
You had special qualities which defy easy explanation.
I could say you were kind, loving, attentive to the needs of others, self-sacrificing, modest, decent, caring. There was a strong, gently quality about you, a sweetness that permeated your smile.
You had some kind of knack of meeting everyone on the same level–human being to human being–with a broad warm smile, an easy laugh, an open heart.
To you there was no difference between rich or poor, king or servant–they were just people–human beings like yourself. You would engage them in conversation–they would remember you always.
I could say you were grateful for what you had in the world of material possessions. Jealousy and envy were such ridiculous wastes of time to you. But most importantly, your gratitude was for the gift of love which you shared with so many.
You had your share of adversity–from the wounding on the battlefield in Nancy, France in WWII, your life-long disability which never defined you, to the loss of your first born daughter Janice, to the loss of the love of your life–Millie.
You remained undeterred in your exuberance for life and hope for the future.
Even after that long and tortuous hospital stay this Fall at JFK you spoke to Seth of your hopes and dreams. We still marvel at your courage and optimism.
I could say that you valued family, friends, country and faith.
Family. You told me of your first job working as a young boy at a soda fountain. You came home and gave half your money to your mother, some to your sisters and kept the rest. But you admitted you probably ate more in ice cream than your salary. When I asked you why you did it you answered, "because I saw my siblings do the same. That's just what my family did."
Friends were always important to you. Especially when they exhibited the devotion to others you so highly respected.
Faith. You were deeply committed to Judaism. It had sustained your ancestors over thousands of years of travel and travail. But as dedicated as you were to it, I never heard you disdain any other faith. You only expected mutual respect–and you always showed it.
Country. You loved the land that welcomed your immigrant parents from the interminable anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. You were proud to serve and nearly give your life for the Armed Forces. But you could criticize it when you felt it was necessary. ( Post Achille Lauro exchange with Senator Frank Lautenberg–under next posting)
Role Model. Not with words or platitudes but with your deeds, how you lived your life did I learn the meaning of love in action. You honored and respectded your wife, my mother–always. You were always there for us as well.
Pop. I could say that you were eternally young, optimistic. You said, "if I can just get a little stronger I'll go to Florida next winter."
You were so comfortable in your own skin that you allowed others to feel comfortable in theirs.
During those long hospital stays over the past 4 1/2 years you continually bounced back from life-ending disease stated. Bad enough to take out someone half your age. I began to compose eulogies in my mind many times. But you fought back, defying the experts. Good thing you didn't know how sick you really were.
And even now when your body could not sustain the strength of your spirit, as you approached death, you never stopped knowing that life was a precious gift, not a guarantee.
You loved openly and deeply.
For this and more I will be eternally grateful and will always love you.