Just the other day my family celebrated the christening of our latest member. Less than 10 days later, we mourn the loss of our father. I was given the sad honor of writing both his obituary, and his eulogy. The obit is linked; the eulogy follows:
My Dad’s Eulogy – 22 May 06
Today we are gathered to honor the memory & legacy of a man whose life touched so many, John Arthur Major, Sr. – my Dad.
The obituary you may have read in the paper described his life for the public. Today – here, now – we honor his private life, the person behind the man. John, or more appropriately, Jack - was your husband, was your brother, was your Uncle Jack, was your PopPop, was our father.
This is the man who, with his 1st wife Pat, raised 5 children – and it is a testament to their nurturing love that all 5 are present here today, paying our last respects.
Born in a year soooooo long ago that it is barely recorded in written history, my Dad was one child in a large, loving Catholic family – growing up in Scranton/Dunmore, PA. His stories of his youth were filled with descriptions of hardships, but were always told with humor and a touch of love.
And you never knew when the story shifted from truth to humor – if you took these stories at face value, you’d believe that as kids they had to walk to school in blizzards – and it was, of course, up hill – both ways!!
But nowhere could my Dad have found a better role model for raising kids then his own parents, Grandma & PopPop Major, who did so much with so little. And after meeting & marrying one small dynamo of a woman, Patsy Mallis, they perfected the art of child-rearing as evidenced right before your eyes: Debbie, the first and the explorer; John, born to lead; Ricky, ready to learn; pretty Patty, prepared to please; and Bob, destined to be different. And my parents were able to see their kids become independent & successful – which is every good parent’s hope & desire…
My father & mother were also able to experience the joy of becoming grandparents together. But sadly, the joy was not to last, as we lost my mother to cancer in 1998, may God bless her soul.
But joy was not denied my father in his later life, as he met, then wed Jayne. And it was with Jayne that my Dad faced his fatal illness, and it was with her support that he beat back the disease spreading thru his body for a time. Let there be no one who doubts the love and commitment of their marriage – we who were close know that Dad would not have made it so long without her & her family – I want to specially mention Mae, Shorty, Frankie, Christina – but that’s just the top of the list, and doesn’t include all the support from their mutual friends….
And Dad did live long enough to see the unbelievable – a new granddaughter by his youngest child & daughter. And then the unfathomable, dare I say unimaginable? – another granddaughter from his youngest son!!! It’s my suspicion, shared with others, that Dad willed himself to live just long enough to see all his kids, one last time, at his latest grandchild’s baptism. Although not strong enough to attend the ceremony, he acknowledged each of us as we came to him. But, the pain…
I believe – I know – he was ready to go. And now he waits with my mother & his parents on the other side – waiting to welcome us all to God’s kingdom.
I said that this eulogy would reflect the private man behind the public figure, and I think I’ve done that. But I don’t want to exclude that public persona altogether, because it was such a large part of who my Dad was.
The company he worked for – Dobekman, Dow Badische, Dow Chemical, BASF, whatever – was at the vanguard of cultural & ethnic diversity – in the ‘70s!! As children, we were introduced, albeit just slightly, to a myriad of mostly Asian and some Hispanic culture, as my Dad didn’t just supervise these new immigrants, but befriended them, too. On the ball field and court, no one was more colorblind than my Dad. I’m not claiming sainthood for him – he was not perfect. But he set the bar pretty high for those who followed.
And so I conclude with praise & prayers for the man – “Jack”. To the person here in attendance, I dare say he was our friend. To many of us here, he was “Coach”. To one of us, he was husband. To a special few, he was brother; to his grandkids, the “apples-of-his-eyes”, he was PopPop. To my brothers & sisters, he was Dad, Daddy. To me, Pops. God bless & rest your soul, Pops. I will miss you – I miss you already…
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