My Dad died eight years ago this coming Monday, the 9th April. He died of cancer at age 67, following a long fight with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. I wrote this eulogy for him and read it out at his funeral. This is the first time I’ve shared it outside of that space. His illness and death changed me in a way that nothing else has; the heaviness and sadness persist to this day and I miss him so very much.

Me and my Dad
Me and my Dad

For Dad

This is a collection of memories and impressions about my Dad, many of which are from my childhood. Dad lost his ability to recall things in recent years. Because of this, I think that one of the best tributes we can give him is to share, with one another, our memories of him. Of course, this is always important when a person dies, but in Dad’s case, I feel that the need to do so is even more pertinent. I would like to share some of my memories of my Dad with you now. I’ve written this eulogy in the form of a poem.

When it was dark,
I was often afraid;
I called,
And you came.

You’d sit by my bed
And with your deep, rich voice
Sing me a song
About a boy called Christopher Robin.

You also sang about a doggy,
And you’d ask me “how much?”
And together,
In between the lines of the song,
We’d woof and howl…
And such.

Soothed and happy again,
I’d fall asleep.
Dark and warm it was,
Your voice, and I found peace.

Your black hair and brown eyes
Lit up with emotion, sometimes wild,
Strong, and powerful, you protected me:
Your small, blonde child.

One night we were at camp
And were supposed to dance
With the other daughters and Dads;
I forgot to bring my pretty dress,
And sobbed.
But you stayed with me
In the cold dormitory,
And we just sat,
Until I felt better.

You were a loyal Dad,
A supportive Dad.

One night you let me stay out ’til dawn
After a high school dance.
I was seventeen,
And you weren’t so keen,
But in the end
You let me be free.

That flicker in your eye,
The quick wit of your tongue,
The sense of astonishment in your voice
When you learnt something new
Or when we surprised you.

The things you were and did…
So unusual, so colourful:
You sold ice cream
Shaped like peaches and bananas
At Greek festivals,
Owned a clock shop
Populated by tall grandfather clocks,
And a warehouse – colossal, vast,
Filled with spark plugs, screws and exhausts,
All from Turin,
Where you’d been, many times.

There was a felt doll you gave me;
I named her Sylvia.
I can only imagine from where,
In Italy,
You got her.

Our travels together were so exciting.
You showed me the world,
Its cultures,
Colours, objects
And people.

Castanets from Mexico,
The smell of New York City,
Giant Redwoods near San Francisco,
Unspeakably large to the four-year-old me.

Back home
We had a big house
At Robe, on the beach.
Together we planted trees;
You let Matt and I christen one each.
I called mine Aphrodite.

The last time I saw you,
We walked up the hall of the nursing home,
Bit-by-bit, patiently.
The sound of Big Band music
Filtered down from the lounge,
And your feet started to move
In a tiny, rhythmic shuffle.

Together, slowly,
Yet with vitality,
We danced down the hall
To your room
Where we danced some more,
Clapping out rhythms,
Turning and spinning.

It was a wonderful way to say goodbye.


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