In the past, the times that I’ve felt really victorious were not the times when I had aced a school paper or crossed home plate, which of course felt great, but when I think of my victories, I think of those times when I had the guts to do something I normally wouldn’t. Like the times when I’ve gotten in a good zinger to someone who deserved it and didn’t hold back my tongue. The times I could have easily of avoided but were the better for not.
I feel like all of these Blog-Off topics are making me dwell on some deep stuff, well maybe not the breasts prompt so much. Sorry but here I go again though, because one of the things that I’m most proud of is being able to walk past my dad’s casket in the quiet church, step up to the alter and climb to the pulpit and looming microphone and give my father’s eulogy.
I remember looking out at my family and friend’s sad faces who were all looking to ME to be the strong one, when I had lost more than a brother or uncle like them, but my father and friend. I could feel a presence though, whether it was God or my dad, I don’t know, but there was something spiritual pushing me during the wakes and now funeral. I was impassioned to make my dad proud of me in front of his family once again, to say all the things that the platitude spilling, monotone priest had left out and mention all the great things that caused a line out of the funeral home and fill all three of its inner rooms with people paying respects. All the things I wanted to remind people about when it came to my father. All the things that I needed to say were jotted down on a black composition notebook, which held my senior math class notes in the front pages and my father’s eulogy in the back. I must have written in such a fury the night before that it was hard to read my writing on the back of each page since there was bumpy brail-like marks made from my forceful pen strokes on the other side.
I opened my mouth to speak, still a bit annoyed that I was the only one who would, because even his seven brothers and sisters were too afraid to come up and address everyone. I knew I had to though, but there was still a moment up there that I thought I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to be staring down at my dad’s casket, this isn’t me. I was afraid I would cry and not be able to get through it that I wouldn’t do him justice, but whenever I addressed these concerns to my family and friends in the days before, they all seemed confident that I’d do well and that I wouldn’t fall apart. Luckily they were right.
I began by saying “As we traveled behind the hearse today in a series of limos, cars and police motorcycle escort by the State Troopers, I saw people turning their heads on the street to stare and look as if to ask who had died. I whispered back to them, a great man died, my father….” Without faltering, without any ums, I continued on and said everything that needed to be said about his life and told of the people who came up to me during the wake like his 7th grade science teacher (I don’t even remember mine), a guy who said that my dad gave him his first job delivering pizzas, just all these random people he had touched. I then read aloud my poem that I wrote about death, which people later asked if it was Robert Frost, nope that was Benny Settembre’s daughter.
When I was done, I took a deep fortifying breath, my nerves shaking from revealing all that emotion and from four days of being in a nightmare. Knowing that what ever I could have said wouldn’t be nearly enough. I briefly wished I would hear clapping as my eyes finally focused on the audience and past his casket, but I had never heard of people clapping in church, outside of song that is, never mind at a funeral. However, my uncle who like everyone else had been leaning forward stood up and started clapping and everyone followed suit. I released the tension and my held in breath, tears continued to fall down my face and I knew in that final tribute I had made my dad proud once again and I knew I’d always be proud of myself for that bitter sweet victory.