There is a hole in all of our lives today; one that my words will do nothing to fill. But I hope that by sharing some feelings and thoughts about Dad with all of you I can express what he meant to me and maybe help you think of what he meant to each of you too.
Dad taught me so much. He taught me how to read and gave me his love of reading. He taught me how food could express love and how taking care of someone starts with feeding them. He taught me how to laugh at myself and to laugh at adversity.
But I'm sure Dad would be glad to know that the most important thing he taught me was that there is only one true virtue in life - kindness. Whether it was business relations, or a stranger in off the street, we all know Dad would rather trust a person than be afraid of being wrong about someone. I remember one time, a stranger from China wandered into Chung’s. He'd just immigrated and didn’t have any money or a place to stay. With Mom’s help, Dad took care of him, let him rest at the restaurant and then bought him a bus ticket to New York where he could find a job and friends in Chinatown. That was just how Dad was.
And he'd rather give people second chances because he appreciated the second chances life had given him. While, sometimes people would take advantage of him, and even though Dad knew, he would open himself up again and again. He would just give, again. Dad would rather be taken advantage of than think that anyone would choose to do bad.
But with these simple principles, Dad filled his life with laughter and love.
Sure there was so much that Dad didn't have, so much that he dreamed about, but didn't yet have: retirement, travel, grandkids. So much that we saw he was working so hard for, getting ready for. So much that we who love him wished he'd had. Wished we could've given him. But Dad never once made you feel that there was anything missing in his life. He only made you feel the joy of living; of knowing that life could be really just be about giving and sharing.
And if ever he asked for anything, it would be so that he could give more to those he loved most.
Now, as I think Dad would’ve, if I could, I’d like to share a few words to everyone in the family.
To Angie, Nadine, Jeff,
You know Dad loved family, and he truly loved how you had joined the family and made us bigger and better. Besides being more people for Dad to tell his jokes to, you were more people to love. And Dad really loved you.
To Craig, Chris, Curtis, Cindy and Cliff,
It's so hard now that we've lost Dad. We always thought there'd be more time, but I know Dad will live on in each of us. Now that he's gone I can really see more clearly the ways that he is a part of me. And I can see the ways that he is part of each of us. When each of us tries to make everyone laugh or cooks way too much breakfast for everyone or sings along to the radio. But more than these things, I see Dad in each of us when we love each other as family. As we give everything we have to each other, and wish only that we had more to give.
Mom, I only wish there was something that I could say to make things better. Dad was always so proud to be married to you. Listening to you sing. Seeing you in the clothes he bought for you. Having people say how young you look. Being surrounded by the family you made together. People always marveled at how close we were as siblings, and it was because of your love for each other that will always be at the center of our family.
And to Dad
Dad, you'll forever be in our hearts. I’ll never forget your world’s shortest answering machine messages, “It’s 9:15, call you later.” I'll never forget how you always had about $10 in change in your pockets just in case someone wanted to buy the paper or make a phone call; never forget you trying to rustle everyone up in the morning because you just couldn’t wait for everyone to spend as much time together as possible, never forget the way you’d smile and get such a kick out of telling me about a joke you made to Angie even though I was there and heard it the first time too, and I’ll never forget how I’d fall asleep in the car ride home from the restaurant and you’d carry me in the house (even if you knew I’d already woken up and was just pretending to get a free ride). And I'll never forget how such dry and over-worked hands could have such a gentle touch and could be so soft and full of love. I’ll never forget these and a million more memories. You’ll be with me in everything I do.
I never told you all the things that I should have. I never made sure you knew just how much I love you and how much we all appreciate you. I know you spent your whole life providing for all of us, trying to protect us, picking us up when we fell. I just wish I could get one more, great big hug from you. This is just the kind of time when I could count on you to just understand, to put your big arms around me, and make the whole world go away.
All us knuckleheads are sure going to miss you.