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My Dad

My Dad passed away last Sunday October 28th, 2012.  He was 74.  We had his viewing this morning at the Donahue Funeral Home in Upper Darby and his funeral at St. Alice’s.  What follows is the eulogy I gave after my sister told some heartfelt Dad stories.


My Dad at my Wedding
My Dad at my Wedding


There’s a Bruce Springsteen song that I heard in 2007 and the first time I heard it I thought of my Dad.  I’m going to read some of the lyrics here.


Well they built the Titanic to be one of a kind, but many ships have ruled the seas

They built the Eiffel Tower to stand alone, but they could build another if they please

Taj Mahal, the pyramids of Egypt, are unique I suppose

But when they built you, brother, they broke the mold


This song made me think of the short time I had left with my Dad and that I should take advantage of every opportunity to do something special for him as he did for me throughout my childhood.  I’m glad to say I did that by visiting him every Saturday, taking him to the car races in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, and watching every big fight together.


Now the world is filled with many wonders under the passing sun

And sometimes something comes along and you know it’s for sure the only one

The Mona Lisa, the David, the Sistine Chapel, Jesus, Mary, and Joe

And when they built you, brother, they broke the mold


My Dad created some great memories with us and these are the first that came to my mind.

  • My Dad would always take time to let us take three laps around our block on the back of his motorcycle on Bayard Rd when we were probably too young to safely ride a motorcycle according to today’s standards.  He always had to take both me and Tara.  That was always the highlight of my day as a kid and he was always happy to do it.
  • My Dad was always trying to make you laugh, even when as he got old, his jokes didn’t make as much sense.  They made sense to him and him being happy made you happy.  Just last Saturday, the aide sitting with him was telling me how funny he is.  I’m amazed she understood him.  I loved his sense of humor.  Even when it was strange or didn’t make sense, he was uniquely funny.
  • Dad was always in the stands at our games.  Anyone who went to one of Mike’s basketball games remembers him yelling.  He understood basketball.  I still can’t understand what he was yelling at my soccer games.  He did not understand soccer.  That did not stop him from attending every one of my games and finding something to yell at to show his support or maybe to just stick it to the refs.  He did not like refs.
  • I owe my character to my parents and the lessons they taught me.  Most of you would think most of that comes from my Mom and certainly I owe my heart and soul to her, but my Dad taught me about personal character.  I remember after one of my childhood fights with Tara, my Dad taking me to the side and having a tough conversation about rising up and being the bigger man.  It took me some time, but it made an impact and helped me develop self-discipline, which I consider one of my greatest gifts.  Thanks for the good parenting, Dad.
  • He was always a big kid, my Dad.  He never seemed to grow up.  It didn’t take much to make him happy.  He’d be all smiles over fudge, fights, and football.  Over the last 5 years he showed more love, affection, and appreciation than I’d seen throughout most of my life.  I remember as a child him telling me that he’d loved me, but he never missed an opportunity over the last few years to tell me that he loved me and was proud of me, and Tara, and Mike…and Bria…and Andrew…and Paddy.  He could never forget the dog.


They say you can’t take it with you, but I think that they’re wrong

‘Cause all I know is I woke up this morning, and something big was gone

Gone into that dark ether where you’re still young and hard and cold

Just like when they built you, brother, they broke the mold


I feel lucky to have had two great parents.  I’m sorry they’re both gone.  I’m most grateful that they were two completely unique people with nothing normal about them.  In that they shared a bond.  They approached life in their own way.  When they built my Dad, they broke the mold.  I hope the mold keeps breaking, because I’d like to see him again, even if only a glimpse.


Now your death is upon us and we’ll return your ashes to the earth

And I know you’ll take comfort in knowing you’ve been roundly blessed and cursed

But love is a power greater than death, just like the songs and stories told

And when she built you, brother, she broke the mold