Eulogy for my father

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.57.54 PMI want to start off by thanking you all for being there for us these past few months. Calls, texts, visits, you made us feel we were not alone through any of it. I know no one WANTS to go to a funeral, and that you come here to show your love for us. I know that some of you travelled very far to be here, to honor my dad, to show your respect, or just to give us a warm embrace.

Throughout my life I’ve come to understand that time is the most precious commodity we have, and so on behalf of my mom, and my brother Billy, and my brother Michael…we sincerely thank you all for YOUR time today.

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My dad had been sick for the past three years, but in the past eight months he started to decline to a point where we knew we were losing him. In that time my dad mostly kept very positive spirits and was upbeat, but of course he had his moments. He also started realizing we would do anything for him, ..and while I don’t want to say he took advantage of that…well…ok, he took advantage of that.

For example, last week when my mom and Cyndi went to get him his favorite soup, they brought him BREAD with it, instead of kettle chips. My father was aggravated at the lack of kettle chips to the point my mother and Cyndi decided to go back out to get him his chips. As they were leaving they heard his voice call softly, but firmly, from the living room “kettle chips…make sure they’re KETTLE”.

My poor mother definitely had the patience of a saint. My dad was not always an EASY man…but he was ALWAYS easy to love.

My father was honest as the day is long. He would never cheat somebody and he would never deceive somebody in a negative way. I remember once when we were kids and he took us to buy flowers for my mom for Mother’s Day. As we all discussed and analyzed which flowers would be the most PERFECT ones, he chatted with the clerk. We were almost home when he realized that he had been given too much change. It amounted to less than a dollar, but he told us we had to go back. We whined about it and tried to convince him to just forget about it, it was a small amount – but he stopped the car and told us that we didn’t know if that would be taken from the clerk’s salary, or if this had happened before and now she might lose her job, and so we had to go all the way back and return the 37 cents.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.56.30 PMHis honesty didn’t stretch though to him not telling you CONSTANT fibs about anything that he thought might make you happy. He would quickly make up a story to agree with your opinion about something, or he would agree with you about how wonderful something was – that he had never tried.

Once while in Ireland with him we had all gone for a tour of the Ring of Kerry. We stopped for dinner when we got back to our hotel and the waitress, upon hearing where we had been that day asked if we had the seafood because the best seafood came from there! My father IMMEDIATELY answered that we HAD and it was FABULOUS. By far the best he had EVER had! My father had eaten lamb stew that day. But that was dad. He loved for people to love him…and it was really easy to love him.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.56.51 PMMy dad was a whole bunch of fun. He had a really great sense of humor.

He laughed a lot and he had a great laugh. There isn’t many other sounds I loved more in this world than the sound of my father laughing.

Maybe better than his laugh was his smile. He had a really GREAT smile, and there was NO WAY you could not smile back at him. The nurses on his floor said they all fought to have his room when he came in, because he was so pleasant and kind to them and they loved his smile. And because I always objected to the TV being on, whenever I came to visit him – before he even said hello, he would give me a smirk, reach for the remote and turn off the TV.

When I was a kid he and mom would play games with all of us. So many nights of Chutes and Ladders, or Monopoly, or Trouble, etc. After dinner it was game time. He taught us how to play cards, he taught me how to play backgammon, he taught me how to play chess. He loved games.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.59.29 PMHe was a very smart man. He won scholarships in school, and he always learned quickly. He figured out how to use an iPad a few years ago and got onto Facebook. He wasn’t great at commenting or responding, but if you saw his ipad you could tell how much he loved all of your posts.

Because in his photo album he saved almost all the pictures you all would post to your walls of your family. There are hundreds of these pictures in his iPad photo album.

He absolutely LOVED to play cards, and quickly discovered online games. He would play online internet “friend” games all day with me and Michael and he was RELENTLESS about wanting to play. He didn’t really care what we were doing…out riding a horse, driving a car, in the shower or cleaning a paddock…the DING of the phone would sound and I’d look to see those two words that will always make me (and Michael) laugh. “Wanna play?”

And I almost always did….even though he swore the games were all rigged in my favor.

He also got good at texting and he and I would FaceTime or text and have conversations every day. Although when you FaceTimed him, he never mastered keeping the screen on his face – so mostly you would just see his forehead and eyebrows. But he never failed to say goodnight, or text early in the morning to say good morning.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.47.26 PMMy dad was one of my earliest confidants. I could tell him anything. And indeed I did. I told him so many things about my life, about my feelings, about my fears, about my ambitions.

He never interrupted me. He always listened attentively with all of his focus. He never seemed to judge me. I never had to apologize to my father for who I was. Never had to explain myself, or defend my actions or opinions. He always accepted me for who I was, and actually reveled and enjoyed the things I and my brothers did. He was steadfast. He was strong. He gave wonderful advice.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.55.17 PMI remember one time when I was struggling with a very difficult decision. It was a very big decision and would change the scope of my life. I mentioned that I had this thing on my mind and he invited me to lunch. We both worked in the city at the time. He had gotten me a job at the same company he worked for.

I will tell you that the advice that he gave me that day was so helpful, and so accurate, and so on point, that it helped me to easily make a decision I had been struggling with for many weeks.

When he was in the hospital many people messaged me or went to see him. I heard so many amazing stories about my dad that I never knew. At one, point my dads old boss came to visit him. As he was leaving my dad thanked him for coming. His friend paused and looked at him quietly and said to my dad. “You’re the BEST man I EVER knew.”

My dad always had a way of making people feel special. He cared about people, what they were going through, or how they were. Over the past few days I was reading all of your Facebook posts about him and they definitely back up this fact. Some of the things people said were:
– Bill put his heart into every game he worked – because he truly cared for the young athletes.
– Bill is a true example of a family man, a man of faith, a hard worker, and a good friend
– Bill was humble and kind, with a smile that could light up the darkest of gyms
– Bill taught me about family, compromise, putting others before yourself & never taking yourself too seriously
– Bill was everything CYO basketball is supposed to be about. Learning and having fun.
– I am so amazed by his positivity, strength and good spirits.
– Bill always saw the good in people. Always a smile and a kind word.
– Bill Kuhens believed in everyone .. he never judged.
– Bill Kuhens – a true gentleman.
– Whenever you needed a smile or a quick pick-me-up you just had to talk with Bill
– Bill had an amazing way of making everyone feel so special and loved, and he possessed a degree of kindness that was truly next level.
– Bill was a wonderful, noble, and genuine man
– Bill was devoted to his family.
– Bill was an inspiration to me.

He was all of those things.

He was so well loved that when the call went out to donate blood and platelets, you all responded so strongly that the head of the hospital came to Dad’s room to thank him personally. He said there were lines out the door and he had to bring in additional staff to handle all the donations. They said it was the largest donation response ever in an individual’s name. My dad grinned and grinned. He looked at me and said “Wow, they love me!”. They did dad. Judging from all the people here today, they still do.

My dad’s mom died when he was four and his dad when he was 17. He was pretty much left on his own after that. My dad often told me that that out of everything that ever happened to him in his life, that losing his mother was the most traumatic. He never felt so loved and so protected as when she was alive.  She truly loved him, and he her. Her loss was a huge catalyst in his life. I know he craved being loved like that.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.56.08 PMThank god he met my mom, because she was able to give him that gift of love for the rest of his life. They truly built their love from the ground up. My dad would have been lost without my mom. My mom and dad were married for 52 years, together for 54. He leaned on her, and relied on her for just about everything. As hard as this is, it is fitting that he went first, because as much as my mother is grieving….my father could NEVER have gone on without her.

When he was sick in the hospital he would text or call me constantly about mom. Did I know she had a fever, did I know she was sick, did I know she hadn’t slept all night? They truly loved each other, and when he met my mom he wound up getting a whole extended family that welcomed him with open arms – well maybe not in the beginning. My grandfather wasn’t crazy about him – but to know my dad is to eventually come to love him and they couldn’t resist his charm. In the end the whole family did embrace him and love him for who he was. I know that my aunts and uncles are all grieving as much as if he was their brother by blood. Thank you for that. Thanks for loving my dad – because you know…he really deserved to be loved. He had a really difficult life and he deserved to get you guys as his family.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 8.00.13 PMDuring the time that my dad was in the hospital it was tax season and my mom struggled to deal with all the taxes she had already committed to every year, and also get to the city – over an hour away – to see my dad. She was going from 5am until well after midnight every day. It was an extremely difficult time for both of them. I never told this to each one, but every time I talked to one they would always tell me how much they missed the other in those couple of weeks. On the phone my mom would cry that she felt terrible that she wasn’t with him every second of every day. And when I was with HIM, he would tell me that everything was fine, except that he missed my mother – even if she had just been there ten minutes ago. The two of them loved each other very deeply and always have. They were deeply committed to each other with a lifelong bond that I believe will transcend even death.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.59.53 PMMy love of animals also came from my father. My dad loved all animals.

The loss of his precious little dog Buddy the year before his death, really upset him. And he grieved long and he grieved hard. I like to think about how he must’ve smiled to see Buddy greet him at Heaven’s Gate.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.57.36 PMMy dad and I talked a number of times about him dying, and I know that it frightened him. And on many levels that bothers me. But I feel that he found peace with it. In one of our conversations he told me that he hoped that when he died and went to heaven that his job would be the one to take care of all the animals at the Rainbow Bridge, while they waited for their owners to come. I cannot tell you how much that affected me. If you don’t know the story of the Rainbow Bridge – look it up. It’s basically a belief, that animal lovers have, that their pets wait for them to come to heaven, and then they cross over together. I hope you got your wish Dad.

And of course there are so many other people that would be there to welcome him. I think about him seeing my sister again for the first time in so many years. And my dad has his mother again. And he has his father and my grandfather and grandmother – who were second parents to him. And of course he has Al and Jackie who I imagine are picking him up in a huge bear hug right now. And now I am sure, he watches over my mother. And his kids.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.57.14 PMMy dad was one of my best friends.

I will forever miss him.
I will forever mourn his passing.

I will forever be looking to log in and have our online games waiting and his constant lament that I get more doubles than he does, or better cards than he gets. May all his rolls be double sixes now.

Take care of all my previous dogs for me dad.

I love you.
I was proud to call you my father.
I was proud to be your daughter.

You leave a legacy of love that has touched so many lives. You led a life that anyone could be proud of.

And I think all eulogies should end with this reminder….
You don’t have to SEE the bird, to hear his song.

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9 Responses

  1. Patricia Bowens says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. You are a most fortunate woman to have such a great father. So sorry for your heartbreak. Take greatest of care.

  2. Sherry says:

    A great tribute to a great Dad and Mom.
    They sure gave you a good foundation.
    I am sorry for your pain.

  3. Deborah Nelson says:

    Bill was and is always family even to the extent our relation is stretched. Never have two families been so joined at the hip by a teenage marriage.My love for Mary Ann and Bill and all the Ronaldson and extended family never has changed in 40 years.
    He was the one person you looked for at an event or family function for some of the best conversations and yes…that complement about how great you looked …every time.
    My prayers for Mary Ann and her family and if ever needed, I am here

  4. Stu & Nancy Kessler says:

    What a beautiful memorial to your dad Kerry! The love for him was wonderfully expressed. Sorry we never knew him, but it seems that we do, a little, now. Strength and peace to you and your family….

  5. Dale says:

    This is so beautiful Kerry. I am so sorry for your loss. I only met your Dad once, but in that little time I loved that he made me feel happy that he met me. I believe he is taking care of our furries at the bridge. I love you my friend ??

  6. Cindy smith says:

    Kerry this is simply beautiful. What a love story your Mom and Dad had. You were all so blessed to have him as your Dad. With deep sympathy , Cindy Smith , your moms cousin Kathys daughter from New Jersey.

  7. Don says:

    What a touching tribute! Thanks for sharing it. I feel so honored to have known him. Love and peace to you and your wonderful family.

  8. Theresa smith says:

    Your tribute to your father is absolutely heart warming. You have memories to cherish and people in your life that will always be there for you. Stay strong. Love life and know he is always watching over you. God bless. And may the wonderful memories sustain you and your family.

  9. Theresa Smith says:

    So sorry for your loss and you have written a beautiful tribute to your dad. Memories are what sustain us and you have a bucket full of them. Know your father is still looking after your and those that loved him. Your dedication to your parents was evident in your words and care for him.

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