Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Eulogy for my Father

  • Rex Pasko

When I was little my dad would always take me to New Castle, IN to watch the fireworks on the fourth of July. We would lay our blankets down and get positioned for the fireworks show. I remember one night specifically when we were waiting for the show to start and he looked down at me and said, “Do you see all these people here?" I looked all around and say yes. He then with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye he said, “Well, they are all here for me, you know, because it’s MY birthday.” I am sure my mouth dropped and my eyes got really big because when you are 5 and your dad tells you something you just believe it. I just remember thinking my dad must be a really important person for all these people to come to his birthday party.

Yet, It wasn’t until years later that I actually realized what a special guy my dad truly was. You see my dad was the life of every party. He is the only man who could make me laugh until I cried. He had a way of telling stories that could make you listen to him for hours. It is honestly hard for me to imagine my dad without a smile on his face. He was someone who always saw the glass half full. My dad would have given anyone the shirt off his back. He loved his family and he adored his friends. He taught me discipline and the rewards of hard work. He had a magnetic personality and a sense of humor that could make any day just a little bit brighter. My dad was my hero.

Yet it’s hard to think of my dad without also thinking of my mom. Rex and Cath were quite a pair, they dotted each others I's and crossed each others t's, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. I think I have always known what a great couple they were-you can’t be married 42 years and not be-but it has been in the last months that I have realized what a special partnership they have. They have been through the stormiest of weather together, the loss of two children, the death of each others parents, but the way my mom has cared for my dad in these last weeks has made me realize what it is to love someone until death do us part.

The relationship between my father and I has always been special, but It has been in the last five years that my dad had become more than just a dad to me - he has become my best friend. There was rarely a day that went by that I didn’t call or talk to my dad. He knew the players in my life, as I knew his. My dad would have done anything for me, and he truly was my biggest fan. Therefore, you can imagine how difficult it was leaving my dad in a hospital bed and moving 2000 miles across the country to begin my surgical residency. I asked him the day I was leaving for Portland “Dad are you sure you want me to leave, and he looked at me and said, "Yes, because I want you to take care of people just like me.” And this just sums up my dad. He was always worried about others more than himself.

My dad has taught me so many lessons about life, but I think the most beautiful lesson and one that will stay with me as long as I live will be the one from the final chapter of his life- because while my dad was dying he has teaching me how to live. My dad has showed me that at the end of the day money and possessions mean nothing, but is the love of those who surround you, the relationships you have built, and memories you have made that matter. I remember we were laying down on the couch one night and I just looked at him and I said, "Dad, I am sorry that this is happening to you,” and he looked at me and said "Jennifer you play the cards you have been dealt.” I think my dad has always lived his life in this manner because he believed “it was not the years in your life, but the life in your years that really mattered."

The last conversation I had with my dad was the night before he died. I told my dad I loved him and he responded I love you. Then I leaned in and whispered “Dad are you scared?” and he opened his eyes and looked at me and said, “What do I have to be scared of.” I just know that my dad is in a better place. As much pain as I feel right now, I know that his pain is no more. I know my dad was very proud of me, as many of you have told me, but I have never been so proud and more priviledged to say that Rex Pasko was my dad.