The undelivered eulogy of an errant son
This is deeply, deeply moving and painful. There are times not to weigh in except to say that I am choked up about it.
And to say this: all of the parts that your father loved and respected about you, and undoubtedly there are far more than you’re aware, all of those parts would be different if you were to be fantasy of a different son. To change a piece is to change the whole to unrecognizable ends.
You’re just right and your father in his calmest deepest wisdom would have understood that. I believe this to be true because I think that all of us in our deepest calmest wisdom know it to be true. Thank you for sharing. You are heard.
I echo Adam’s sentiments - but I will say that of all the eulogies I’ve ever heard, the ones which speak to the complexities of the departed, alongside the love that they gave and received, are always the most moving. This was beautifully done, Troy.
And much love to you 💜
This was deep, Troy. It was moving, vulnerable, and honest. I really felt the torn-ness and the sadness in your words.
My relationship with my dad has always been somewhat strained, as I am all too aware that I’m not the kind of son he’d hoped I’d be. And so, I really related to this piece.
Thank you for being so open and for sharing this moving piece.
Oh Troy, this is heartbreaking. As someone lucky enough to be deeply loved by my father and as a result, have the capacity to love my children unconditionally, I cannot truly know your suffering. I can only imagine it through the lens of this beautiful piece of writing.
Being a parent is, without a doubt the most fraught and complicated thing a human can do which is why we all fail at it. We all fall short. I believe your father did love you though that love was unfortunately shackled by the restraints bolted into the bedrock of human society long before he was born. Were he to have lived just a few years longer, I think he might have been able to loosen those restraints and not just love you but accept you and celebrate you.
Thanks for sharing this part of your story.
Our parents were people of their times, shackled by convention and not knowing it. We are, most likely, bound by our visions of the world and as unaware as they were. There was love, and you're right, that's all that needs to be said.
Beautiful, my friend. Thank you for sharing.
Fathers and sons... for lack of a better phrase at this time, I think it’s a super fucked up dynamic. I hope the tide is turning, and that fathers of young sons today are more in tune emotionally, and are as a result seeing their sons as who they are, and that over the course of a life that trajectory continues--that just as they did as kids, they see them as who they are as adults. I hope that masculinity continues to be examined and redefined--again and again and again. Because it’s tough. Very, very tough.
While if it’d been a different outcome I believe I’d be up for the challenge and would do a decent job, there’s a reason why upon learning that we were having a daughter I was quite relieved.
I remember in college writing an essay about a nightmare I’d been having, where my dad had died and that I was hoisted up by family members as, “the storyteller of the family,” and I would therefore be the one delivering the eulogy. I was raised catholic, it’s worth mentioning, and had as part of my religious “studies” as a kid delivered a couple of readings from the Corinthians or whomever at the podium... so I was a seasoned vet, you know!? A real natural! 😂 (which was also part of the reason why the family nominated me, they of course having been in attendance on those occasions--I grew up in a town of 2,000, after all)
But then in the nightmare I’d freeze. And that when I’d thaw what would come out wasn’t what I’d actually mean, or want to actually say at a time like that. And I don’t remember the specifics but I remember me sobbing in the nightmare. In front of those gathered? Maybe? Probably? But sobbing--which wasn’t something he’d have been comfortable with. I think because at some point in the eulogy I’d find my rhythm and I’d lay it all out there, all the thoughts and feelings shoved deep-deep-deep in the name of masculinity.
Out they’d come, and they’d all be centered around the things I wished I’d have had the courage to say to him while he was alive. All the love and realness I wished we’d experienced together.
Apologies for the overshare. Your piece certainly struck a cord with this reader.
As is undoubtedly often the case, a eulogy says more about its author than about the deceased. After all, what do we really know about each other. Or even ourselves. And then there’s time. It twists and reshapes our memories. I never really connected with my father. I’m convinced it had nothing to do with my sexual identity. He valued conformity. I, diversity. Nevertheless, I admired him for his intellect and his cleverness. I like to think that he loved me and I him. But who knows. Maybe I like a happy narrative. In the end, we get to choose our narrative. And I choose the one that helps me be happy.
Thank you... you are first of all a child of the world, seems to me you're doing good. You have seen him and are allowed to move on.
As everyone else has said, this was so very moving, deep and honest, Troy. Thank you for sharing. I cannot adequately articulate the emotions I feel from having read what you just wrote out, but know that it moved me deeply. So much love and respect to you, my friend.
Thank you for sharing the deepest part of yourself and for speaking from your heart for all of us to experience. I know this was painful for you and I know you father and your mother loved you. It is difficult for that love to come through when people are broken by their own childhood and lives. You are a shining light, filled with love, beauty and wisdom (except when it comes to Divas). ❤
Sigh... Heartbreaking. Sending so many hugs and best wishes.
Human beings are such complex creatures.
(I never knew about eulogies either. All our family funerals have been tiny intimate affairs simply designed to give us an opportunity to share memories of those lost. Only at one did someone suggest that they were waiting for me to say something formal. I didn’t.)
You're so wise in the way you wrote about something so painful and deeply rooted. I hope you are today surrounded by so much love and appreciation and support that you may not have been properly given in the past. You are an amazing, empathetic, brilliant human, and I'm grateful to know you.
I share many of these feelings and ideas. From a strictly writing viewpoint, it's effective because every bit belongs. The flow works; you created stunning, painful images.
Lovely piece, Mr. Ford. This month is the first anniversary of my father’s death. And I was also unable to speak at his memorial several months later. I had no idea what to say that others would understand.
Perhaps there is no need for regret regarding your father though. You two came together for a reason, after all. And in his present state, one of completeness and total love, there is nothing but appreciation and acceptance. This is what I believe (it allows me to say that now that they’re both gone, I finally have the parents I’ve always wanted). I mean, why not?!
I’m sure he’s very proud of the thoughtful, caring person you are.