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Published by jfirm

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Published by: jfirm on Jun 22, 2009
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Hello everyone. On behalf of my family, I’d like to thank you forcoming to this memorial service for my father. And please forgiveme for not wearing a tie, but given the fact that my dad actually
sooner caught dead than wear one himself, it seems onlyappropriate that I honor that philosophy here! After all, I am myfather’s son.It may seem a bit strange to some of you, but part of me has alwaysbeen preparing to someday deliver this eulogy to my father. Oursis not a family that hides from frightening or difficult subjects.From as early as I can remember, I was taught that there is a cycleto life, and that inevitably there would be day when my parents’lives would come to an end. Many nights in my childhood werespent around the dinner table talking with my parents about plansfor the next stages in our lives, whether it be college, careers,retirement, the possibility of illness or the preparations for theirpassing on. In many ways, this very Firm-like approach to thesubject of death has made my mother and sister and me betterprepared to handle Dad’s health issues this past year. But it hasalso created in me a lifelong sense of obligation to understand myfather -- to know the real man inside, what moved him and inspiredhim and caused him to work so tirelessly to provide for his family-- because I know you can’t truly say goodbye to someone youhaven’t fully understood. And so my quest to understand my fatherbegan as far back as I can remember him.When I was a small boy, my father was just too big and too strongfor me to understand. An all-powerful Superman – as I am surefathers are to most kids. But in many ways, my father
superman who faced things that few people in the modern worldever encounter. My earliest memories of dad are filled with imagesof him dressed to go out into the fierce sub-zero winters of Alaskawith his guns, his trap-sets, his snow-shoes. No car, no cell phone,no gas grill. He was a man of a different world and a differenttime. Even when we moved into town and led a more typicalsuburban life, you could always sense the coil in my father ready tospring into action like the hunter and trapper that he was. Myfather favored the old tools and old ways of doing things, eventhough they took far more skill and muscle than the newer electrictools he could have used. But that would never have suited RudyFirm. He believed that worthwhile things were truly built fromblood, sweat and tears.When I left home and went off to school, I read a poem during myfreshman year that seemed -- in my highly overwrought collegemind -- to explain the man I knew as my father, and for a while Ithought that if ever asked to read something about him, I mightchoose this poem. It is by T.S. Eliot and the corner of the page isstill folded-over, twenty-five years later, for future reference. Thepoem begins:
 My father moved through dooms of loveThrough sames of am, through haves of give,Taking each morning out of each night  My father moved through depths of height.This motionless forgetful thereTurned at his glance to shining here;
That if so timid air is firm,Under his eyes would stir and squirm.
Dooms of love. This seemed to so perfectly describe that vast,cold, and lonely wilderness that my father would traverse andengage with in a battle of wills. But as I got older and grew toknow him better, I learned that what my father saw when heentered that harsh landscape
a barren wasteland like Ithought, but rather, was to him a wondrous temple in which tocelebrate the beauty and honesty of nature and the hard-wonsatisfaction of self-reliance.For many years, I tried to understand my father through the lettershe would send me at college and during my first years as a bill-paying adult living on my own. He and I had not had an easy timewhen I was growing up. If men are from Mars and women fromVenus, then my father was from Pluto and I from Nebulon 7. I wasnot the kind of son he had imagined he would ever have, and hewas not the kind of father that a kid like me was going to havemuch in common with. But my father
himself learn to seeme in my own right, and to judge me not against what he wanted,but by what I wanted for myself. And when he stood back andlooked at what I had become, he was filled with an almostastonished pride. The reason I know this is because of hiswonderful letters--written in that unique, urgent style of quotationmarks and double underlines and triple exclamation points—lettersthat were like multi-vitamins of encouragement and praise when Ineeded it. As a result, I will never be a man who wonders if he

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