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Archive for July, 2012

Today marks 10 years since my dad went to the pearly gates of heaven.   A gentleman who gave me life and shaped who I am today.  Below is the original eulogy I wrote and read during his memorial service in July 2002 with my newest comments at the end.  This is dedicated to you dad…Joseph Edward Hagan March 1, 1935 – July 11, 2002  I love and miss you so much.

Joseph Edward Hagan –  son, brother, husband, dad, grandfather, uncle, friend, artist, and poet.  These are just some of the roles or words which could describe our father but not all that he was.

As a husband, he was dedicated unconditionally to our mother for 44 years of their marriage.  Since retiring to South Carolina 7 years ago, my parents were finally able to relax and enjoy the benefits of our father’s hard work as a lithographer, where before retiring he would leave for work daily before 5 a.m.  In South Carolina, he enjoyed the sunshine (and no more unpredictable New England weather – thought they did get snow and sleet within a year of moving down there…).  He joined the local Moose lodge, played Bingo every Wednesday night, swam, shopped, and even painted flowers on ALL the street sign posts throughout Island Green (the community he and my mom lived in), a job that consumed many hours but allowed him to show off his artistic talents.  He became an avid gardener.  He took pride in the grapefruit seed he saved from his Connecticut breakfast and nurtured into a large tree on his lawn in South Carolina.  He had a pineapple plant he also started from a CT breakfast and would you believe, that plant, after years of nurturing, gave him pineapples.  As my mom has said, the past seven years have been some of the best of his life and they together had just started living, laughing and loving.

As our father, I’m sure we weren’t the easiest bunch (Keith, Kevin, Sandra and Richard) but our father took not only our accomplishments but our failures in stride.  He made sure his children experienced what life had to offer – fishing, camping, vacations up and down the East Coast and Canada, musical instruments, baseball, softball, football, track, basketball and scouts.  Regardless of where life led, our father was always in the stands cheering us on.  Even when he moved, he was still on the sidelines, cheering and rooting for us and was always, at a moment’s notice, ready to catch us if we should fall.  He was proud of us regardless of where we had been, who our friends were or what we had become.  He accepted our friends into his home, and made them feel special.  Even his screen name on the computer showed his pride as it was the first initials of each of our names in birth order…KKSRdad.  He looked forward to calling us and telling us his latest escapades or what new project he started and was always interested in what we were doing.

As a grandfather, Joe wanted to be a part of his grandchildren’s lives since we basically grew up without our grandfathers.  Right after he moved, his first grandchild, Patrick Joseph Hagan was born and he and my mom came back to CT to welcome the next generation to carry on the Hagan name.  Derek Joseph Hagan followed and through marriage of my youngest brother Richard and his wife Tina and her child,  Fatima Streeter Joe was the proud grandfather of three, talking on the phone to them when they could not yet utter a word and drawing pictures for them and anticipating each visit and phone call.

You could say our father was persistent and stubborn but that’s not a bad thing.  From his Rubik’s cube that took months to complete and which he proudly displayed on his headboard for years to his various other projects.  He was our “Joe of all trades.”  He knew a little about a lot of things.  He argued with TV commentators, had solutions to international unrest, the running of the nation and just about any other topic you could mention.  He did not know the meaning of the words, “it can’t be done or it’s impossible.”  Whether it took a piece of tape, a screw here or a twist there, he would spend countless hours to fix something or make something work.  It was his unique way of “Joe rigging something.”  That is one thing I believe all my brothers and I have inherited from my dad…the Joe of all trades.

Our dad was also a talker and he was renown for going to the store for milk and not returning for two hours… of course, with the milk he originally set out to get, in addition to bags of other things and tales of who he ran into.  He was famous for impromptu conversations over backyard fences, driveways, in the middle of department and grocery stores with strangers and friends.  He was a friend to animals, from countless cats, to any strays that landed in our yard.  Although NOT a cat person, he developed a bond with my cat TJ, my large coon cat and they would go for walks together in the field, the cat right by his side without any prompting.  He just had a manner which attracted others to him, with his waves, friendly “good mornings” and his unique laugh.

Words cannot even being to sum up our father’s life, But then again, it is not necessary.  He was and will always be a remarkable man.  I believe if his life touched another’s life or made an impression in any way, then his time here was meaningful and a great success.  It’s a comfort knowing that although he is not physically here with us today, he is watching every aspect of our lives, and he is still our biggest fan, still cheering his wife and children on from afar and he will be patiently waiting until the day we meet again.  Dad, you will always be a part of us, and our love and we miss you very much.  Your loving wife Julie, Keith, Kevin, Sandra, Richard, Alice, Tina, Patrick, Derek and Fatima.

OK so that is the eulogy I wrote 8 years ago but I have so much more to add.

Shortly after his passing, our family was blessed with another grandchild/niece who we welcomed into the family, Amanda…a beautiful, blonde little girl he was denied of ever meeting and she too was denied …  denied of meeting a remarkable grandfather.

The passing of my dad was an event that totally made me question life, and in the past 8 years, has totally changed so much I believed in.  That same year, 8 years ago, right before my dad passed, I also lost a grandmother who I adored – Sarah Olah Hagan.  I believed that as the years went on, it would get easier, but you know what, it doesn’t in many ways.  I cannot even tell you the number of times I just wanted to pick up the phone and call my dad and say the familiar, “hi ya daddy,” and hear his familiar … “hi ya Sandra.”  I cannot even begin to tell you the void his passing has left in my life.  I can still hear his voice in my head and I am thankful of that. I also have a VCR tape (how old fashioned) of when he and my mom came to CT just a few months after moving to South Carolina to meet their First Grandchild Patrick.  In a sense, that helps to keep the memory alive..so many in that tape have now passed and it is ever so important to me internally to keep their memory and spirit alive.

But I can tell you that, regardless of whether it was one year or now going on eight, my dad always with me, everyday of my life.  Within a day or so of his passing, I awoke to find my condo with lady bugs all over the inside ceiling in just about every room.  You see, me and my dad always had a thing with lady bugs and I believe it was his way of telling me he was OK and he was watching over me.  And we cannot forget the four leaf clovers…my dad could walk anywhere and look down and find a four leaf clover.  Those of you that know me, KNOW that….that is one of my talents, looking down and finding a four leaf clover.  They say that finding one is a 1 in 10,000 chance but ask those who I have given one to.  I find them all the time and each time I pick one, I say…”thanks dad,” as I know there is a reason he is saying hi and checking in.

In memory of my dad, I actually got a tattoo about 2 ½ years ago of a lady bug on my leg.  It has on one side, three dots and on the other side one dot…signifying his birthday, March 1st.

So today as I am sitting here, July 11, 2012,  I cannot believe in so many ways that it has been 10 years…but in other ways it just seems like yesterday that he left this precious world and our lives.  One of these days (against your wishes) I will get another tattoo with a four leaf clover to signify your life and what we shared, but until then ….just remember that time may ease the pain but it cannot diminish how much I miss you each and every day (all of us do and especiolly Mom).

-Your one and only daughter…Sandra…

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