I did it, Bob. I wrote your eulogy and I’ll deliver it to the people this week when we gather in your name. I hit the sweet spots, glossed over the rough patches and included the things I know people need and want to hear at the end.
Now it’s time for me to say my own goodbye. And like it always was between us, between a lot of fathers and sons I suppose, much of it will remain unspoken.
I could write 10,000 words about your life and its effect on me, more if I had the strength today. I don’t. But I’ll say this: You were really something, big as life and adventurous and boisterous. When you showed up, everybody knew it. We could hear your laugh from 100 yards away and you could fill up an entire room all by yourself.
Some of the things you taught me: how to throw a football in a spiral and a baseball on a rope, how to drop a bank shot, how to drink away an evening and then, when the time came, how to stop.
I never would have quit drinking, Bob, if you hadn’t done it first. You didn’t want to be my role model. But you were anyway. You didn’t try to be my hero, and that, ultimately, was your most important gift to me. With nothing to live up to, I was free to be myself.
I understand now that those things you didn’t do for me are the ones that made me who I am. And that in so many ways I am very much like you anyway.
I want you to know that I was proud of you, even through your darkest days, though I wasn’t always happy with your choices. I want you to know that I loved you, but also I liked you — liked hanging out with you, laughing with you, bouncing ideas off you, tapping into your vast trove of knowledge and institutional memory. I want you to know that we have plundered your wardrobe and are wearing your clothes. And I want you to know that we will be telling your stories — so many stories — forever.
It’s quiet here without you, Bob. But we’ll fill the silence somehow.
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