- 89 years old
- Date of birth: May 12th, 1926
- Place of birth:
Newark, New Jersey
- Date of passing: March 10th, 2016
- Place of passing:
Los Gatos, California, United States
Good morning. On behalf of my family, I want to thank all of you for joining us today to pay our final respects to my father. Not only are we saying goodbye to Dad, but today, May 12th, would also have marked his 90th birthday. So we wanted to use this day to celebrate his life in a manner in which he would have liked.
My dad passed away on March 10th. Although he was very ill at the time, he was aware that our family and many close friends had come to the hospital to be with him in his last hours. During a final spiritual gathering around his bed, a group of us, Brenda, Gary, AJ, Deb, Miranda, Stephanie, mom and myself, each thanked him for something special he had done for us. We all held hands in a circle as we spoke to him. It was a very emotional moment for all of us there in the room that none of us will ever forget. And within a few hours my father was able to let go peacefully with my mom and Deb at his side.
Months and weeks before dad’s last hospitalization, he took opportunities to gather the family close impromptu to express his thoughts and wishes to us. Our conversations became more serious, but we were a family working through tough issues and speaking from the heart. Dad would usually end the conversation telling us how much he loved us and cared about us. As tough as it was, I take comfort in knowing that we had this special time together as a family.
During his many hospitalizations, mom was always by his side as she has been for the last 68+ years in the marriage they shared. Dad cherished mom more than anything. I can’t count how many times he called her the “love of his life”. And when he would say it, his voice would tremble. Many of you may not know this, but they met when they were young children growing up in Mount Vernon, New York. This is a true love story of two children growing up together, falling in love and spending a long beautiful life together. I remember how they would find time to plan their getaways on the California coast, sometimes a week, usually up to Bodega Bay. They also loved the beach, usually spending one to two afternoons a week at Sea Cliff Beach after my dad retired. They loved to hang out together, just the two of them, best of friends.
They were quite a team together in all things and especially in raising their family. Through their actions my parents taught us about the family foundation and how to treat people with respect and dignity. We always knew we had a family that was always there for us through good times and bad.
My father always emphasized the importance of family and friends. He was fortunate enough to have many years during which he was visited many times by relatives who lived in other parts of the US. California is a nice place to visit if you’re from out of state. Specifically, I remember times with my Uncle Victor and his family coming up from Southern California. My entire neighborhood on Gunnar Dr would look forward to the parties and card games. We had some crazy 4th of Julys back then. We also had visits from Carlotta, Lorraine and Fern a number of times. Our dear family friends Anna and Joe Fernandes would come down from Oakland. Cousin Gracie visited a few times. The Propers visited a few times. And, of course, my grandparents, Nana and VoVo, were always in the picture.
I especially remember times with cousin Brenda and Gary and all of their children coming to visit. Brenda and Gary are mom and dad’s closest, dearest family and friends. They supported each other through all the years, from the most tragic loses to the happiest celebrations. They have been heavily involved with Deb and I while dad’s health was in decline. Deb and I don’t know where we would be without them and their support.
One of dad’s great joys, were his granddaughters, Stephanie and Miranda. They helped keep G-dad on his toes, and gave him life by reciprocating their love to him. Although my sister, Susanne, passed away at a young age, she has left her legacy with these two beautiful girls. Both of which are now grown up and married. Stephanie and Andy live in Arizona and continue to be a big part of my parent’s life. Miranda and Jordan live in Martinez and are a key part of our G-mom Support team.
And what could be better than great-grandchildren to keep dad smiling. Miranda and Jordan have had two beautiful children, Dylan and Mia. I’m thankful that both my parents have been able to play a significant role in their young lives while watching Dylan grow into a thoughtful young man and Mia develop into the darling little boss who is always in charge.
Now speaking of friends, mom and dad have lived on Gunnar Drive in San Jose since 1969, in the same house they bought when we moved here from New Jersey. Somehow we hit the lottery. I remember within a day or two of moving in, Bob Hichborn was pruning our roses. Eileen Knapp brought over a wine cake and welcomed us. The Reinhardt family came down and introduced themselves. We have been neighbors with these families for 45 years. Many of our key members have passed in recent years, but their children are now adults (some grandparents) who are all part of our extended family. Paula and Heidi have been there for mom and dad recently during very critical times when Deb and I couldn’t be there. Whether you were bringing the daily newspaper to the porch, hanging the flag, driving them to an appointment, or just dropping in to say hi. Our neighborhood on Gunar Dr is special and my dad cherished it and never wanted to leave it.
So, since my father’s passing, I have had a little time to begin to process the loss and how it will impact our lives going forward. My wife, Vicki, saw that my father and I had a very special relationship, something rare between a father and son. We had a father and son relationship, but we also had a deep close friendship, and we connected on so many levels. I thought I would share that with you.
During a typical week, I would usually talk to him about 3 to 4 times. Usually it was on my way home from work so we could catch up. He was always interested in how work was going for me. How was my career direction? What kind of projects was I working on? What were the dynamics like on the teams I worked with? Did I like what I was doing? Was I satisfied? These were conversations we had since I got out school and began my professional career. They started at the dinner table with a glass of wine. But over time they became phone calls.
You see, my father looked for challenges as a professional. That’s why we are here in California today and not still living in New Jersey. He and a small group of men took a risk and came out to California to start a company. Therefore, he understood my desire to be right in the middle of the action at work rather than watching from the sidelines. We could talk about my career options openly and candidly. He would never give me direct responses or opinions during our discussions unless I asked him. My father was a good listener and a good sounding board. He would offer constructive ideas and positive direction. He was a passive but influential mentor to me. My mom has told me that Dad always looked forward to and enjoyed those conversations, and so did I.
If work wasn’t in the forefront of concerns, another area dad and I would cover in our weekly conversations was music. My father loved all kinds of music, and we shared our thoughts and feelings about music often. Since I was a child, I remember dad and my sisters listening to music downstairs in our basement in Mine Hill. He was always involved and active in whatever music we listened to as kids, and he enjoyed and shared our enthusiasm and excitement. Listening to music with dad was like listening with my friends. He had no boundaries in his musical tastes and he liked the sound system cranked up loud. No wonder he was hard of hearing late in life! I remember my good friend and neighbor, Rob, coming up to our door once and hearing the music blasting inside the house. He walked in without knocking looking for me, only to find dad dancing by himself in the living room. That was my dad!
My father taught me to be open-minded about my musical tastes. We played rock n roll in the house but we also listened to jazz, all kinds and all ages. We listened to classical. Dad and I would go in the living room and play violin concertos at night with the lights off just so you could listen in detail without distractions. We listened to blues, old and new, and everything in between. He even introduced me to opera. It’s beautiful, but it never stuck. A few years ago, Deborah bought him a CD of Gregorian Chants. He thought it was great!
So in the last 15 years, we started going to live Jazz shows in Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Oakland. It was the perfect thing for us to do together. It was live, very eclectic and very challenging and perfect for my father. He would revel for days discussing the nuances and beauty of what we heard. I loved taking him because it was a gift I could give back to him! The beauty of live music played right in front of you.
My dad was an intellectual, very cerebral, and had a very inquisitive mind. He loved computers and technology. l gave him an IPAD and he loved it. He was an 88-year-old man with three email addresses. He was always looking things up, reading news papers, sending me articles and keeping himself informed, from his own health issues, to what was going on internationally. He was interested in so many topics I could not keep up with him. He was always striving to learn more.
He was also the kindest, most gentle soul who lived a fairly quiet life. I am grateful that I had this lifetime to get to know him on so many levels.
Finally, as we were talking on the phone, I would be getting closer to home and he would ask some questions about family. How is Vicki? How is she feeling? Are you doing okay? How are the Boys? (Those are our dogs). Have you talked to Deb lately? Have you heard from Stephanie and Miranda? When will we see you again?
With that we would normally close the conversation complaining about the Giants. That is until 2010. Then after 2010, we would rave about the Giants. He would sometimes ask me, have you seen Tom? When are you going to use the telescope again with Bob and Bill? Make sure you keep in touch with your friends. You have good friends! He would normally end the conversation by saying “I love you son, we will talk later” and we would hang up.
To this day, something comes up on the news, or I’ll be reading an article and think, this is a good topic to discuss with Dad.
I’m going to miss those conversations, his challenging ideas, his diversity and how he weaved it into his unconditional love he had for us kids. But I sure am thankful for knowing him not only as a father, but as the friend I called dad.
To close this out, I want to say I am thankful for many things today.
• I’m thankful that my father had a good long, healthy and fulfilled life.
• I’m thankful for the time my parents had together and their storybook life.
• I’m thankful for my loving sister Deb, for her devotion and loving attention she pays to our entire family. And for putting up with me the last four months. Where would our family be without her?
• I’m thankful for my rock, my wonderful, lovely wife Vicki, who is there every night and who is back at Gunnar Dr setting up the celebration.
• And finally I’m thankful that you are all here to celebrate my dad’s life with us today.
Thank you All!
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