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Eulogy I Read at My Dad’s Funeral

john amy and snakeSo, I wrote this poem [hold up card] in the passenger seat while my fiancé drove all night from southern Virginia to this funeral home—a blizzard followed us. It was all 35 miles an hour from WV to CT in a sea of Mack trucks.

And standing here now, I realize that I got something wrong in the poem—this line right here: “I wish you could teach me how to love so fiercely it swallows our world.”

Let me explain.

I was going through my dad’s belongings the other day and came across a few interesting things—like this 20-year-old hair brush [hold up brush]…that still has my hair in it.

And this box [hold up box] that says “World’s Greatest Dad” filled with my baby teeth, and what I’m assuming is a roach from the first joint we smoked together when I lived with him ten years ago.

Also: my Christmas list…from 1990 [hold up list], this birthday letter from his step-daughter [hold up letter], all of my publications to date (which aren’t many), a handful of not-so-rare pictures of his step-son with a priceless orange mullet, his wedding ring—the list could go on and on.

He cocooned himself in his love.

And what I’m learning is that, just because he’s not alive anymore to love me, or any of you, it doesn’t mean that he has stopped teaching us what it means to love other people, animals, sports teams…far from it.

Standing in his sister’s dim-lit garage, my toes ready to freeze off, fumbling through boxes of his relics with my fiancé and best friend T. Jaye, I felt so much love, and so much gratitude for him, my friends, my family.

A part of me might always feel like the intense tenderness that overwhelmed me when I discovered that old hair brush, my baby teeth…that tenderness is how he must have felt for me and everyone he loved all the time, and I just wish that, when he was alive, I was able to make him feel even a fraction of that love was reciprocated.

As long as I remember him—and I mean, let myself really, really remember him—he’ll continue to teach me what it means to truly be in love with the world.

And he was so in love with this world…he wasn’t ready to leave it—to leave us.

The best way for us to honor him is to not hold back—love your loved ones like it’s going out of style, like you’re a bat in an attic getting chased by a broom—love without shame or fear, love others for yourself and trust it, trust that you’re good enough to love with complete abandon.

Before my dad died he told me that he wanted to write an autobiography in hopes that it would inspire others in a positive way. As many of you know, he had been through some shit. And he overcame so much of that shit. He not only wanted to better himself, he also wanted to help others be better, too.

Since he won’t be able to write his life story, I plan to pick up the torch and write it for him. But I need all of your help. I only know John the Dad, and I need to learn more about John the Brother, John the Friend, John the Husband, even John the Boisterous Coworker.

I just ask that you write your email address alongside your name in the guestbook if you don’t mind me contacting you to ask you about your John Stories. I hope to conduct as many interviews as possible throughout the next couple of years so that I’m able to write the most comprehensive narrative possible. He deserves it. If you guys could help me fulfill this last wish, I would be so grateful.

Thanks for coming

“Of the Beasts, of New England.”

Excerpts from Thomas Morton, New English Canaan or New Canaan, 1637.

The Bear Gourmet
The Beare is a tyrant at a Lobster, and at low water will downe to the Rockes, and groape after them with great diligence.

Turkeys at the Kitchen Door
Turkies there are, which divers times in great flocks have sallied by our doores; and then a gunne (being commonly in a redinesse,) salutes them with such a courtesie, as makes them take a turne in the Cooke roome. They daunce by the doore so well. … They are by mainy degrees sweeter than the tame Turkies of England, feede them how you can.

Bee-Eating Hummingbirds
There is a curious bird to see to, called a hunning bird, no bigger than a great Beetle; that out of question lives upon the Bee, which he eateth and catcheth amongst Flowers: For it is his Custome to frequent those places, Flowers hee cannot feed upon by reason of his sharp bill, which is like the poynt of a Spannish needle, but shorte. His fethers have a glasse like silke, and as hee stirres, they shew to be of a chaingable coloure: and has bin, and is admired for shape coloure, and size.

Cunny-like Beavers with Overheating Tails
[T]he Beaver … is a Beast ordained, for land and water both, and hath fore feete like a cunny, her hinder feete like a goese, mouthed like a cunny, but short eared like a Serat, [it eats] fishe in summer, and wood in winter, which hee conveyes to his howse built on the water, wherein hee sitts with his tayle hanging in the water, which else would over heate and rot off.

To Catch a Raccoon (Just Follow the Ape Tracks)
The Racowne is a beast as bigg, full out, as a Foxe, with a Bushtayle. … His fore feete are like the feete of an ape; and by the print thereof, in the time of snow, he is followed to his hole, which is commonly in a hollow tree, from whence hee is fiered out, and saotken.

The Muskrat’s Mysterious Diet
The Muskewashe, is a beast that frequenteth the ponds. What hee eats I cannot finde.

Deodorized Foxes
The Foxes … doe not stinke, as the Foxes of England

The Ghost Squirrel
Another [squirrel] is red, and hee haunts our howses, and will rob us of our Corne, but the Catt many times, payes him the price of his presumption.

Peas in a Bladder
There is one creeping beast or longe creeple (as the name is in Devonshire,) that hath a rattle at his tayle … which soundeth (when it is in motion,) like pease in a bladder, and this beast is called a rattle Snake…

“Lyons alwaies in hot Clymats, not in cold.”
Lyons there are none in New England: it is contrary to the Nature of the beast, to frequent places accustomed to snow; being like the Catt, that will hazard the burning of her tayle rather than abide from the fire.