Eulogy for My Father Essay

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My father died a week ago today. He had a profound impact on the life I live today and on the person I became. The relationship between a son and a father can often be quite complicated. Not so, for me. I was blessed to have a rather simple, yet powerful and loving, relationship with my dad. And because I believe that at Fast Company we have created a community of friends, not mere readers with little connection to our magazine, I want to share the eulogy I delivered at his funeral on Saturday.

My father was a hard man to dislike. I know it's common at a funeral to only remember the good things, to omit the things that would embarrass someone. In my father's case, the most remarkable thing that can be said is that there is no bad.

So
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He didn't allow this handicap to hold him back.

He met the woman -- Valerie -- who would become his wife at his sister Isabell's wedding. Valerie worked in a coat factory. He married her in 1970. Three years later, in 1973, he had his only child. After working in a dye house for many years, he became a postal clerk, a job he had for 20 years until he retired. He died 17 years later.

It's the simple bio of a simple and modest man.

But you don't measure the life of a man by simple facts, simply told.

It's been said that you measure it in the truths he learned, or in the times he cried, in the bridges he burned, or the way that he died.
In his 79 years, my father learned much, rarely if ever cried, never burned a bridge, and pretty much knew when he wanted to make his exit.

Here's what he learned:

He learned that you should fill your life with music. My father was an accordion player. He taught himself to play the piano and could play everything from Chopin to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. He played boogie-woogie, Polish polkas, Italian dance numbers, Broadway classics, and Beatles tunes. Some of the happiest hours of his life were spent squeezing the squeezebox, stomping a foot on the floor, his fingers flying across the keyboard on everything from Roll Out the Barrel to the Tarantella. It was a rare party when my father failed to bring out the accordion to play.

He learned to be generous with…

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