Eulogy in Drafts and a Letter

10613076_10204909417031104_5526019312848196156_nI have spent many sleepless nights thinking about how to honor my father’s memory here today.

One draft covered how — for Christmas, Father’s Day, Birthdays and every other gift giving holiday, Dad often asked for just one thing:

PEACE and QUIET.

Totally understandable given that he was in a house full of women.

Then there was the version that highlighted when my Dad, headed over to our neighbor’s house to chat while my mom was readying the house for a dinner party. When he arrived, he sat down and carefully explained that he was there because “my wife is over there trying to achieve perfection, but what she does not know is that perfection cannot be achieved.”

I had yet another draft where I thanked him for opening up the world to me through travel. His work took him to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and more. He brought home interesting gifts for us…..and some great stories — and it gave me the bug.

BUT nothing can honor my Dad’s memory quite like reading one of his letters. You see, Dad was a letter writer – and a thoughtful one at that. When we were younger — if there was yellow legal paper folded neatly on your pillow, you knew you were in deep trouble.  Later on in life, those letters were less about explaining what we did wrong and more about offering some of his sage advice.

I found this letter he wrote me several years ago after his 75th birthday party — there’s a reason why I kept it.

Dear Katja,

This card is a very small form of thanks for all your work on my party, both in the planning and execution stage. I saw how hard you worked even on the day of the party.

All this you did in a time when you were yourself not altogether happy and I thank you particularly for that.

I can also not refrain from a few words of fatherly advice, particularly since I am still fighting myself about my life right now. Ever since I actually retired, I have tried to find something truly meaningful to do, that on the other hand does not separate me too much from your mother. I feel a responsibility to be near her as much as I can, since for many years I wasn’t always able to be there for her —- or for all of you.  

So you can see that even a retired father, more than twice as old as you, still does not quite know how to go on in life and has to search for the right path. So it is not surprising to me that you also suffer from this feeling.

I hope, though that you will find your way through it without giving up the wonderful side of yourself. Even though you talk to your mom more than me about these things, I know enough to understand that they are hard on you.

I want you to be happy, perhaps more than anybody else you know and I do not know whether this letter will help. But I had to try.

Love Dad.

—–

He was an amazing Dad. I was truly lucky to have him — and now I wish him all the peace and quiet in the world.  You were loved.

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