Monday, January 19, 2009

Missing Papa

Last Sunday, my step-grandfather passed away. For many reasons, mostly us being Too sick, and me Too pregnant, and them being near Buffalo, NY, we didn't go to the funeral.

My blood grandparents are a bit squirrely, to put it mildly. When Eric's grandma passed away, I spent a few days, pondering and remembering her. So, I've been doing the same thing this last week with Papa.
It was so refreshing when my Dad remarried when I was 13, and his new in-laws opened their arms to my sister and I, always treating us as family, just the same as their other grandchildren. We called him Papa (pup-ah). I tried to call him Grandpa Harry, becasuse Papa just didn't roll off my tongue, but everybody else called him Papa, so we did too. It actually brought tears to my eyes, when they included Lisa and I in the obituary. The first time I met them, was for Dad and MB's bridal shower, which coincidentally fell 2 days before our birthdays. They had a birthday party for us. (My sister and I, our birthdays are 2 days apart.) They had LITERALLY just met us, and here they were having a birthday party for us. He loved his sports, there was some sport on TV all the time. He had this fairly gruff demeanor, and at first, he scared me, but he was that way with Everybody, and after a bit, it felt good that he could razz us just like he razzed everyone else. It was good to be a member of that family.

This morning my step-mom, sent me his eulogy. So, I thought I'd just post it, because really, it's the same memories I have too.

Eulogy for Harry S. Stocky

Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle, Grandfather, Great-grandfather, Elk,
Veteran, Friend, Bowling Pin Setter, Plant Layout Engineer for Bell
Aerospace, Golfer, Bowler, Fisherman, Bills Fan, Beer Drinker,
Unofficial Event Poster Designer for Lodge # 860, Volunteer for Canal
Fest, Engaged Member of Ascension Parish and St. Jude Parish,-- all of
these embrace the ways we have come to know the man I am proud to call
my father-in-law, Harry Stocky. I have known him for forty years and he
has given to me many things in my life that have profound meaning, not
the least of which is my dear wife, her siblings and their spouses and
children, my extraordinary mother-in-law, and his extended family.

But among those qualities that are not explicit in the many roles that
Harry assumed are those that made him truly unique. He would never have
thought of himself as a teacher, but I have come to appreciate the
special things I learned from him. His marriage of fifty-nine years is
a model to all of us in its example of unselfish love and commitment.
I have met very few people who have his strength of character-- he was
as steady as they come. Harry treated everyone the same way, with no
pretensions. Often much to our surprise, he would say something that
would startle his target but never, ever with meanness. To watch him
witness the loss of three of his own children with dignity and grace
taught me that a man’s inner strength is very separate from his outward
bluster. Most importantly, in everything he did, in whatever role he
was playing at the moment, it was never about him-- it was always about
others. His greatest teaching was in showing all of us that a man’s
worth is mostly in what he does in the service of those other than himself.

Now we all know that Harry had idiosyncrasies-- we all learned more
about the need for insurance than we ever cared to know. We learned
that cheering for the Buffalo Bills meant that as soon as another team
scored, the Bills stunk-- even in those years when they went to four
straight Super Bowls. We learned that even the mention of the
possibility of a hurricane reaching North Carolina meant that we had to
scramble for safe shelter. We learned that driving into any big city
meant that you would be victimized by crime. We learned that playing
golf in downpours would not always secure our clothing. We learned that
any spot of rust on a car could signal total disintegration within days.
We learned that Franks Red Hot sauce makes every food taste better. We
learned that lifting your T-shirt up to your chest, a cold can of Busch
and a mesh baseball cap worn slightly tilted was almost as effective as
air-conditioning. It would seem that Harry was a bit of a worrier-- but
looking back at all of this, it’s pretty clear that he was worried about
all of us-- it wasn’t about him.

His bark was far worse than his bite; his laughter will be much more
firmly etched in our memories than any tears; his kindness toward, and
love for others will continue to inspire us to look for the good in each
other. I am going to miss him terribly. He was a character with
character; he was a gentleman with a little impishness thrown in for
good measure; he was a little like the Wizard of Oz-- behind the
curtain was a gentle soul with a heart of gold. And, I really didn’t
have to be afraid of him and leave Judy at the end of the street when we

In a moment of suds-inspired reflection, Harry surmised that his entire
life was on video tape and that tape would determine whether or not he
got into heaven when he passed away- and he was nervous about it. Maybe
that is why is referred to the alternative so often-- most of the time
preceded by “What the,” “Where the” or “How the.” Well--now the video
is complete, no doubt with an original score by Benny Matteratz and the
Bedbugs. I say “Well made, Dad. Go collect your Academy Award for
Best Performance in a leading role.”


Elizabeth said...

That brought tears to my eyes just reading it. What a wonderful tribute.

amypfan said...

How beautiful!