It’s me your favourite daughter.
You can’t imagine the crowd here today. All because they love you and your family. Or quite possibly because they heard it is going to be an open bar.
Dad, I have thought a lot in the last couple of weeks about who you were. I want to tell you now because I know you are listening and can’t interrupt me. I want everyone to know because you have not been yourself recently. By recently I mean the last several years. I especially want your grandchildren to hear. Dad, there has never been anyone like you.
I need you to know I wrote this eating our favourite food group; jube jubes. And no, of course I did not eat one single green one. I am not stupid. We both know they taste like mouthwash.
Dad, you were the very best at who you were. It did not matter who you were around, you were always 100% unapologetically and perfectly you.
First of all, you were tall.
It was so easy to find you at amusement parks, large sporting events and airports.
But if I could not see you, I could hear you because you were always really loud.
You were also funny. You had your own language, a rhyme for everything and a story for anyone. You never called anyone by their own name unless you were angry with them.
You were so lovable. Nobody who met you ever forgot you. I was always so proud and excited to bring my friends home to meet you. I hated however bringing my boyfriends home to meet you. You would sit in the sunroom smoking a cigar and reading the newspaper. We would come in and you would not look up from the business section. I would say their name. You would call them all “Bill”. When we turned to leave you would stick your tongue out at them.
You were so great to live with. Except when you were not. When I was grounded (always) or trying to borrow your car, or sleeping in past 7.
While you were loud, you were also very proud. But quietly so.
You were extremely high maintenance. There was nothing a la carte about you. When you ordered food it was a 10 minute discussion. You would engage the waiter in a way that made him feel special and then you would make him dance on fire. I need the bacon cremated, and the coffee must be from the top of the pot not the bottom, the onions chipped not sliced, what are the hottest chili peppers you have, I want to cry when I eat, the martini needs to be the driest of dry with 3 little onions, not four. After every tennis game you ordered an extra extra extra large skim milk milkshake with extra chocolate. Three shots of chocolate, that is.
You were hard working.
You were disciplined. The doctor told you in 1972 you had to lose 25 lbs and watch your cholesterol and things were never the same at home. All good cookies were replaced by health balls mom made that tasted like wood shavings. You landed at 194 pounds and hovered there for all of your well life.
You only emptied the dishwasher once. But you always said if you do it well, once is enough.
You loved food. After every meal you would regret your consumption and announce That was the last meal of the day and within 20 minutes you would say Hey Jude, what’s for dinner?
You were a fabulous cook. But you could only make two things. Whistle dogs (this is a hot dog all dressed up with cheese whiz and crispy bacon) and western sandwiches. You told people how to eat them, if they didn’t follow direction they were outcasts, if they put ketchup on the hot dog they were nuts. If they did not like them they were not invited back. If they helped rake leaves they got seconds.
You were relentless. Like a dog to a bone. You went after everything this way, you teased this way, and you lived this way.
You were larger than life.
You loved to swim.
You were a good friend. There were late night calls from friends in trouble, and meetings in the sunroom with anyone who needed help or advice.
You cheered for and supported the underdog. As long as they worked their butts off.
You were intensely anti- snob- often leaving price tags, in the days when there were, on inexpensive wine bottles at our dinner parties and clearing your throat super loudly if anyone started name dropping around you.
You were brave, spirited, fun, an outside of the box thinker and an extremely unique individual.
As you often said in your defence, You be nice and I’ll be me.
You excelled at being you.
You were a devil. Dad, you were an envelope pusher. It made you loved, feared and quite frankly in jeopardy of being shot.
When we were living in New York, 3 children under the age of 6 and one of us, who shall remain nameless, had been prescribed but not given heavy doses of Ritalin. You came home and dropped off a beagle puppy we named Snoopy and headed for a long business trip overseas. Two dog gates were used in those days- one for the child needing Ritalin and one for the rabid pup named Snoopy. When that dog got loose we jumped on the kitchen table and screamed for our lives. For a month you were not available for comment as you were in Holland on a first class business trip. Mom met you at the airport and said Either Snoopy goes or I do and you did what all devils do- you looked around for a long while as if carefully weighing your decision. A man somehow loving to live on the edge.
Once when I was much younger, I was going through a rough patch. We were sitting together in the family room, you reclined on the black lazy boy and me on the couch beside. I wrote on a pad of your graph paper you were never without, because saying this out loud was too hard for me Dad, I am having a bad life and you wrote back in CAPS as you always did NOT A BAD LIFE, A GOOD LIFE WITH A TOUGH BIT.
And this I have never forgotten. Who knew I would see you live this truth as large as you were.
We were all astounded by how well you presented for so long with dementia. You fooled a lot of people for a long time. There were a few signals that you were slipping – like when you would take as many ‘complimentary’ Granite Club razors as you could. You would drop them down your pocket less sweat pant leg until they pooled at the bottom of the elasticized ankle and rattled as you walked.
Or you would go to the bank and ask for $3000 cash in “fifties” and then start passing them out to people. This was so uncharacteristic.
We were at an elegant luncheon at Harthouse, where Sammy was getting an award for a story she wrote about you and your battle with Dementia, entitled My Grandfather, My Hero. You were seated beside a very elegant French woman with impeccable manners who was making pleasant, if perhaps snooty and definitely boring, conversation. She buttered her bun politely and you took it out of her hands and ate it in one bite. Then when she wasn’t eating her chicken quickly enough – you stabbed and grabbed that as well. You broke the stuffiness. The long table was instantly made comfortable and fun by you. Life with you was always like that. And your long battle with dementia was no different. Peppered always by your humour and that devilish twinkle in your eye. And a dignity and courage that astounded me every single day of the last 13 years.
I have something to say to my family- especially the youngest people in the group- the grandchildren- you will have moments and days where you wonder where you belong and who you are. You will be surprised that you will take seriously what others take lightly, and lightly what others take seriously, you will be a child at heart your whole life, you will have the devil in you, you will be overwhelmed by your passion at times, you will be the best kind of friend a person can have, you will need love and laughter like oxygen, you will love life even the hardest bits, you will feel the ups and downs intensely, you will wear your heart on your sleeve, you will not give up, you will do hard things out of duty and you will face your fears. You will wonder if you are alone in all that you are. I want you to know you are not. You are a member of a beautiful family, started by a man named BOSS and the incredible woman he fortunately chose over a beagle named snoopy. A man who loved you more than life. And that is saying a great deal.
Today is the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. This is what I said at his funeral.
I miss him.