Death and Writing Part 2

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: writing | Tags: , |

I get Google Alerts for my name, and my companies, to see what Google thinks of me on a regular basis.  It’s a smart thing to do with any brand, not to mention if you want to know if any of those people you’ve offended in your life are spreading nasty rumors about you.  Fingers crossed but I have so far been lucky.

Today is my first day back to work and it is a slow start.  I don’t feel like focusing on anything in particular – so I checked my Gmail account.  Google Alerts weekly message showed me my dad’s obituary.  It was kind of surreal.

Obituaries don’t really do a person justice.  Neither do funeral services.  For both my mom and my dad’s funeral, I ended up writing what we can call a eulogy.  My mom’s funeral service was much more personal, taking place in a funeral home instead of a church.  So there were lots of wonderful things said about her.  My dad had a mass, so there was nothing personal in it at all.  The priest didn’t even use his name.  I wrote the following eulogy and said it before the mass started.  I wanted there to be something said about the kind of man my dad was.

My dad, David Allen Piscitelli, died on March 4, 2011, after a four and a half year battle with lung cancer.  He was 68 years old.  Here is his eulogy.

Like many of you, my relationship with my dad had its ups and downs.  But he always tried to do the right thing – to do right by his family.  He didn’t always succeed, but that was what he wanted.  Through a lot of my life, I wasn’t as close as I wanted to be with my dad and growing up, I didn’t feel like I knew him all that well.

Four and a half years ago, dad was diagnosed with cancer.  When they gave him a year to live, I was so afraid he was going to die without me having gotten to know him.  But he pulled through and he kept pulling through and as the years went by, I got to know my father really well for the first time.

He changed over time, from where he had been in his life when he was diagnosed.  I think we all got to see him become happier.  He laughed more.  And when he said I love you, which he did often, he meant it.

My dad was smart.  I won’t say he read more books than anyone I know – considering the company – but he certainly read more books, did more NY Times crossword puzzles and listened to more NPR than anyone I know.  But he was also funny.  I didn’t used to think he was that funny – that’s not how I thought of him – but in the last few years he really showed off his sense of humor.

On New Year’s Eve, dad fell and hit his head.  His face looked horrible – like he had been beaten up by a gang.  A few days later, my sister Erica took him to the bank, to become a co-signer on his account.  Imagine the scene when this 68 year old man, who looks like he’s been badly abused walks, practically stumbling from the fatigue of his injuries, into a bank with a much younger woman on his arm.  My dad walked up to the teller and said, “I want to add this hussy to my account – she’s trying to take all my money.”

The teller didn’t think it was very funny.  She kept staring at his face, horrified, and finally asked, “what happened?”  He replied, gesturing to my sister, “she beat me.”

This happened a couple months ago, when he was starting to decline.  When he was so sick and had just had an awful experience and he still was making jokes, making all of us laugh.  That’s how strong he was.

I interviewed my dad a few months ago.  I asked him what was his proudest accomplishment and, without hesitating, he said his children.  He was proud of all of his children and proud of the way his whole family had pulled together to take care of each other and him.

In the end, we all got to see my dad, happier than I knew him from my childhood, and proud of the family that he created.  We all got to hear him say “I love you” many times, and know that he meant it.

The best gift we got from these last years was seeing my dad become what I think he always wanted to be – a man that we all could be proud of.  I told him often that I was so proud of him, and I meant it.  I told him often that I loved him, and I meant it.  And shortly after the incident at the bank I told him one other thing that I think he really wanted to hear, which was that I really, really liked him.  And I meant it.

What I am trying to say, is I am glad he went out on a high note – knowing he had done good by all of us and knowing that we all wanted to be there with him and for him at the end.


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3 Responses to “Death and Writing Part 2”

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I knew your dad and worked with him when he was with Fidelity Union Trust in Newark (ca. 19670.. I was with Arthur Andersen and worked on a systems project for over a year. I lost contact with him after the project, but always kept him in my thoughts.

Thank you for commenting and for the kind words. I am sure my dad would have appreciated it and I know I do.

Somehow I couldn’t finish my comments when it posted on auto.

I wanted to finish that I saw the obituary in the Ledger and meant to follow up with a comment online…nice commentary from his daughter.

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