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tell you that every night when I would call home to check in this was the way my father would answer the phone. For the longest time I didn’t know why he did this, but I later found out my Grandpa Kinnealey used to do it – dad was just carrying on the tradition and let me tell you he got a kick out of doing it. He often told people, with a big smile on his face that he was a “shy guy,” but as all of us here know that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Dad had no qualms about breaking into dance in the kitchen, or making up the lyrics to his own song; more than once there was a highly entertaining rendition of “Roxanne” by the Police being belted out. You might even say Dad had a flair for the dramatic – I think the whole neighborhood could hear him when he would start sneezing or coughing. Dad had what we refer to as “Biffisms” – those key statements that he had the uncanny ability to work into any conversation. For his very straightforward and serious conversations there was “for all intents and purposes.” For those conversations that grew a little more heated there was always someone who could “go pound sand”. And in case you forgot, let me remind you “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Dad was a family man – his wife and kids meant the world to him. He was a big brother himself – his father and siblings were so important to him. I have heard countless stories over the past few days of how he was the quite the instigator during his childhood. He loved his role as “Uncle Biff” – the crazy uncle that could make everyone laugh. He and
my mom just last month celebrated 38 years of marriage. He was so proud of all of us and would brag about us any chance he got. He loved watching the game with Jeff and Andrew (although the teams were never good enough and always inadequately coached). He loved showing me how to work on my plants (although I definitely didn’t inherit his green thumb) and he took pleasure in showing me how to fix things around my house with the toolkit he had very precisely assembled for me when I moved out on my own (lets be honest I still don’t know what to do with half of them). Most of all he loved playing with his grandchildren. His little “Annie Banannie” was the apple of his eye ever since he first held her and I’m pretty sure the adoration was a mutual feeling. Watching Anne dance with her “Pop a Dop” this past Christmas Eve in the living room to Christmas music is not a memory that will soon be forgotten. Seeing his namesake, Will start to develop his own personality had been a thrill for Dad too. That little boy could always bring a smile to his face even on the hardest of days. Dad was so excited to hear just last week that Will wanted a real cactus – maybe someone had finally shared his love of plants. I think Dad was slightly disappointed to hear the Cactus Will was actually referring to was a horse – a fictional character in his favorite book. Things hadn’t always gone easy for my dad and because of this he taught us early on to not to give up. Whatever we did, he made it clear he didn’t care if we were the best, but we were not going to quit. My freshman year in high school I stood in the kitchen crying because I had just gotten my latest F- (seriously I didn’t even know this grade existed) and I told my dad I wanted to move to a different class (if you
ever heard his version of this story it probably involved me stamping my feet and throwing a full blown temper tantrum). He looked at me, laughed, and said absolutely not – there was no way he was going to let me, a Roberts, give up on something just because it was hard. Dad and I revisited this lesson countless times over the years – and he never let me forget I ended up getting an A in the class by the end of the year. He took this approach with everything in life – and I would probably say this was one of his greatest qualities. Dad loved to help others out. During the big snowstorms we could usually find him up the street getting the neighbors out – leaving my mom to get our driveway cleaned on her own. He would be out there for hours, loving every second of it; she not so much. He was a true “Mr. Fix It.” Although he always did jobs around the house at his pace as compared to a reasonable time frame the rest of us would have agreed with, he could fix almost anything – and he enjoyed doing it. Whether it was tiling the bathroom, laying new stones for the patio, or hanging a new dining room light he was on the job. This past fall he finally gave in and called a contractor to come rebuild the back deck of the Milton house. I gave him the name of a man I worked with at school – only to later apologize to Bob because I highly doubted he that thought with the job would come a project foreman and supervisor. Dad made sure he was included in the trips to Home Depot and the drawing of the plans; he may have hired someone, but he was going to be involved too. Dad loved the holidays, especially hosting them at his house. Thanksgiving was his favorite – he was up at the crack of dawn just to get the turkey prepped and ready for the
oven. Family football up on Centre Street had to be brief because he had to get back to check on his turkey. He always made sure everyone was included too – the more the merrier, and it was never an inconvenience. Too many people to fit into the dining room? Not a problem he would just switch the rooms around for the day. Someone couldn’t eat the traditional Christmas Eve lobsters? No worries he would simply make them something else. Christmas brought out the inner child in him. He LOVED decorating more than anyone I know and he always felt the need to “be spontaneous” when getting gifts because seriously who follows lists anymore? He loved shopping for those random items that you would not ever expect, but would end up really loving – I remember one year my brothers and I all got pressurized ping-pong ball guns. Now why you would give three young children pressurized guns with ping- pong balls is beyond me, but we loved them. I think mom was still finding those balls years later when we moved. Wrapping was never a simple feat either – he started saving boxes months in advance because everything had to be wrapped in one box and then rewrapped in a few more before it could finally be put under the tree. This past Christmas he tried his trick for the first time on his granddaughter – she was so excited to open this large box only to grow increasingly frustrated, as any 4 year old would, until she finally reached the gift - a DVD. She looked at him and let out a big exasperated “Oh Pop!” In typical Biff fashion he just started laughing. It’s probably a good thing she has his sense of humor because she too just started laughing.
My dad was in a really good place in life. He had found a job that he genuinely loved after getting laid off a few years back from the one he had held for much of his adult life. Staying at home wasn’t working for him, or my mother, so he became a concierge at 4 Longfellow in Boston. The people he worked with there became his second family. He talked about them nightly to the point were we felt we all knew them and he was always helping them in anyway he could. There was a short period of time he would wake up every morning earlier than he needed to in order to make sure one of his residents got her morning wake-up call. He didn’t have to do this – he wanted to. For the first time in a long time he genuinely enjoyed what he was doing. In late February I returned from vacation to find out my dad was going into have some tests – he had been having some difficulty swallowing. Mom looked worried, but dad said “Trust me there is no need to worry….I will be fine”. They found the tumor, they gave an initial diagnosis and he again said “There is no need to worry – I will be fine” Our first option was surgery, but that didn’t pan out as we had hoped. We were all so worried that he would be defeated by the feeding tube and the chemo and the radiation he would have to endure, but he met this challenge head on and said “This sucks, but trust me I got this…I will be fine”. When I got engaged he was so happy for me; I asked him to promise me he would be there to give me away. He said “Like you need to worry about that. There is no way I would miss it.” His days were up and down. He didn’t like depending on people to help him – and he definitely did not like my mom having to mow the lawn and tend to the garden – she simply did not do it the right way. He was terrified of loosing his
hair. He missed his job and wanted to find a way to try to go back. He hoped by the end of treatment his life would be on the upswing. Unfortunately, the second scans did not reveal what we wanted to hear – the cancer had spread. Most of us cried, but not dad – embracing me in one of those big bear hugs that only Biff could give he said “I can start treatment again, it will be hard, but don’t worry I got this...I’m not going anywhere” The week of the 4th of July he got to spend at the only place he wanted to be – the cape. He loved the cape and wanted to be there more than anything. He was the only man I know who loved the cape as much in the dead of winter as he did in the heat of the summer, he would go every weekend year round if my mother let him. He wasn’t looking forward to coming back up for treatment, but he knew that it was going to serve a purpose. Ironically, at the end of the week he came home and went straight into the hospital – things didn’t seem to be going right. We were still hopeful – he talked about starting up the treatment again and let me tell you – he had those nurses fighting over him. On Monday July 15th we got the official news that dad’s days were numbered – the cancer had taken on a life of it’s own and accelerated at an extremely rapid pace. He looked at me that night, with tears in his eyes, and said “Well Meg we almost made it.” He went on to tell me how hard he had fought to fulfill his promise to me to give me away on my wedding day. I told him I knew he had given it a great fight and even though he wouldn’t be there on December 14th he would still be there because we made a promise back in February to get through this together. Wayne and I told him we had made a
spontaneous decision and would get married that week. He smiled and said he thought that was wonderful. In stubborn Biff fashion, he said he didn’t want any tears, but I can tell you that did not happen – there was not a dry eye, him included, in that hospital chapel. I am happy to stand here today and tell you that while December 14th will go on as planned, thanks to the amazing staff at Milton Hospital who helped me put together a wedding in 24 hours my father gave me away on Wednesday, July 17th; I am now Mrs. Wayne Eddy. My dad got to give his “mighty midget” away to a man he was honored to call a son. What was the best day of my life was also the hardest day of my life but my dad and I did it! We gave each other a gift that can never be forgotten. So, for all intents and purposes I had the wedding of my dreams and as far as I am concerned cancer can go pound sand. I couldn’t have asked for a better man to call my dad…I love you
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