I wrote a few words about my Dad to read at his funeral. More than a few, actually. Unfortunately, the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey doesn't allow eulogies during funeral masses. So these words were delivered that morning at the funeral home. The outpouring of people the night before was overwhelming, that while it would have been nice to address the whole group at once, there wasn't really a moment where someone wasn't offering their condolences, their assistance, or just sharing a story about my father, which was actually wonderful, both as a testament to my father, and as comfort to my family.
I don't know why eulogies aren't delivered more often. Every wedding I've ever attended has had a toast from the best man to the bride and groom. I realize funerals, by nature are obviously more somber occasions, but in essence, we are celebrating the life of the deceased, and not their death. At weddings there is only a brief history between the newlyweds, and the toast looks toward the future. At a funeral, we have the opportunity to refelect back upon an entire life, which could span encyclopedia volumes.
But if my father could speak to you today, he certainly wouldn't want all this focus on him. In fact, he'd probably tell you, “You should be at work right now”, or ask, “Why aren't you in school?” He wouldn't want people fawning over him. But since you're here already, he'd ask how your kids are doing, or, how's work these days, or, how you've been feeling since your surgery. I know this, because despite his illness, I've seen him do it the last few months, during the course of the income tax season. Always one to finish what he started, he was sure to stick around through April 15th.
Perhaps I'm not qualified to deliver this eulogy today. I wasn't born in the Depression Era, and couldn't tell you what life was like being born in those times. In my youth, my father and mother always had food on the table and in the fridge, we were never concerned where the next meal was coming from and always had plenty to share.
I didn't grow up in East Boston on West Eagle Street and watch the Boston Red Sox as a kid, and live and die with a team that always came so close, but not close enough, until recently.
I wasn't around to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II, in perhaps whatmay have been the last just war, if there is such a thing.
I never left my family to marry the woman I fell in love with, 250 miles away from home in a strange land known only as New Jersey. But my love was only two towns away, and her parents liked me…I think…so it was a little easier.
I don't know what it's like to be the head of accounting for a large corporation, and leave it behind to build my own income tax practice from the ground up, but I guess I didn't have to.
I never helped raise two wonderful daughters (who probably weren't wonderful all the time) and watched them grow into beautiful women, who raised wonderful children of their own. I'm still a novice as a dad, just learning what its like to help raise a son, and not make the same mistakes he made.
I've also never lost my true love before, to have her snatched away from me too soon. I've never felt the same pain he felt. But I know the cancer could never create nearly as much pain as he felt when my mother died. I pray I never know this pain.
Really I can't think of anything that would qualify me to eulogize my father, I haven't bowled a 700 series or a 289 game, I can't play poker, or pick a winner at the track.
About the only thing I can think of is that I cared about my father very much, and I know he cared about everyone gathered here today in his honor.
Arthur La Raia was my father and my friend. A few weeks ago he told me what a great friend I'd been to him. And I could say the same about him. He was my (best) friend and I'll miss him very much.
I would like to thank everyone who has paid their respects to my father over the last few days. This means a great deal to me and my family, as it is comforting to know that the loss is not ours alone. In some way or other, my father has touched your lives as well, and I could also say to you, “I'm sorry for your loss.”
— Lawrence La Raia, 4/28/05