Delivering the eulogy
500 Words: Personal Challenge
When the priest told me I only had five minutes to give my father’s eulogy during his requiem mass, I was stunned. Five minutes? Five lousy minutes? Really? Now I am not a public speaker of any sort, in fact I hate having to speak in front of groups or gatherings, and I have never delivered a eulogy but I wanted to speak about my father and I wanted to do it properly. But how could I honour my father’s 82 years on this earth in such a short time? How could I explain to all who knew and loved him just how much he meant to us all? Giving my father the best send off I could was resting on my shoulders. I could feel the weight of doing it properly bearing down on me heavily. I wanted my eulogy to honour my father, to trigger happy memories and to give a raw and honest account of the man he was. I might only have five minutes, but I vowed that those five minutes would be the most meaningful, the most truthful, the most respectful and the most jam-packed five minutes I could possibly spend talking about my beloved dad. And so I set to work preparing a series of verbal snapshots of my father’s life. I talked about how he was born during the Depression and his life as a child in Malta during World War Two. I spoke of his migration to Australia and the discrimination he suffered here. I talked about his life as a husband, father and grandfather. I spoke of his strictness and his wicked sense of humour, his spontaneity and his storytelling skills. I remembered his love of gardening, nature and wildlife documentaries. I made everyone laugh with various reminisces such as his love of songs like ‘Sink the Bismark’ and ‘Walk the Line’ which he played every Saturday afternoon at full bore. The congregation giggled as I jogged their memories of my father’s obsession with very loud marching band music, his big, grey Pontiac Parisienne with the red leather upholstery (which I found embarrassing as a teenager) and his negotiating skills, which were non-existent. I told everyone that Dad was no angel, but that he was our Dad and he was a good man. He taught us to be strong and to be resilient and most of all, he loved us. My eulogy made us laugh and it made us cry. Delivering my father’s eulogy was one of the most moving and positive experiences of my life. When I took up the personal challenge of sharing with others very special memories of my father I wondered if I would be up to the job. I don’t know if I stuck to the five minute limit or not. But I do know that I did the best job I could and that I felt so proud to be honouring my father with the support of my family and friends. I hope that my dad approved of the loving send-off I gave him on the next step of his journey. I love you, Dad.