Remembering Dad, my eulogy

My dad’s ashes are interred near the stone on the left side of the photo, underneath the willow tree, where you can see a few red flowers planted. As I approached, three Canadian geese walked across my path and I snapped this shot.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and this message is the second part of a tribute to my dad, Hugh Rowe, who passed away in August 2011. In the first part posted a few days ago you can read the eulogy delivered by my sister Cathy at my father’s funeral.

Cathy and I decided to place these memories online so as to make them part of the public domain forever. There are plenty of ways to memorialise someone and although my dad never used the Internet, being the family history/genealogy buff that he was, I know he would have appreciated making this available and easy for anyone to find. So here is my eulogy too…

Eulogy by Ryan Rowe

A man’s life is defined, to great extent, by his values and his passions. Today we are honouring a great man – my father, Hugh Allan Rowe – who was a fine husband, awesome dad, my mother’s best and dearest friend, a good provider and family man, and, as I’m sure many of you will agree, blessed with a quick wit and a mind as sharp as a whip.

In a few short words my father lived his life to the fullest and was loved by many – a testament to the values and passions that guided him.

Dad was a gentle man, and cared greatly about people. He somehow managed to stay in touch with hundreds of family and friends across the miles – not by email but the old-fashioned way – by telephone and letter-writing.

His knack for numbers and words, and his sincerity and genuine concern for others endeared him to many. It also brought him great success as a financial advisor, stockbroker and options trader. His career in the markets spanned about 40 years, and was one of his personal passions. And, until a few days before he died, my father was still watching the stock market ticker roll across the screen.

When I think of Dad, many special moments come to mind and my heart breaks knowing there will be no more.

Moments that make me laugh — such as his conversations with his loyal dog. My mother calls the dog Davey, but Dad, well, he seemed to prefer “chuffnut”. And, on a few special occasions, Dad even called me a chuffnut. Still a huge improvement, I guess, over my infant nickname of “the big bozo”!

We shared special intimacies – arm-wrestling, chess or cribbage, stock tips, gym workouts, running, and comparing our muscles to see whose was bigger. He’d often teasingly poke my stomach with his fist, and as I grew older I teased him the same way. In all of these, he was my teacher, and in most of these he would beat me and in so doing he inspired me to try and catch up.

One of my fondest memories is how he would rub my head during Habs hockey games for good luck. Something he started when I was a little boy and which I continued to ask him to do until the present day. One of the last moments we shared was when I lay beside him a few hours before he died. I took his hand in mine, lay it on my head, and asked him to rub it, for good luck, for wherever he would be going next….

Although my family and I have shed many tears at my father’s passing, last night something dawned on me. No matter how hard a Rowe family member tries to be sad, it just doesn’t work. We are a happy family, and surrounded by happy friends.

My father lived an amazing life, and we should be celebrating it. And we are. Those who were at the wake last night may have noticed the buzz in the air… people were sharing stories about Dad and enjoying them, with smiles, laughter and tears. In this way, we are doing him a great honour, by remembering the amazing things he did with us and for us.

The Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, once wrote: “When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

I’d now like to read to you a letter I wrote to my father.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hey Chief,

You’ve been gone just a few days and I miss you so much. I know the ache and pain will fade with time but your memory most certainly will not.

I wanted to let you know that we celebrated your life this week. And in doing so, our family has become stronger and closer together. Everyone has rallied to support Mom and each other. I think of all I have learned from you and the ways in which you have inspired me. Funny and familiar stories shared by family and friends have given me greater insight to your passions, your friends, and your childhood. How you walked from Rosemount to Westmount picking up pennies along the way, or how, at the age of 10, you handled your stamp collection with rubber gloves. Things I never knew before and which will make for entertaining stories for my children!

Your values and ideals have left an indelible impression upon my mind and my heart and I know that you will continue to inspire me in years to come as you have in years past. The time you spent teaching me about love, politics, economics, and the world of sports will stay with me forever. There were also moments when you challenged me – such as our discussions on the merits of less government and greater economic freedom. I was frustrated at first, but as I grew older, I admired your courage, your conviction, and your passion for your ideals. Although I didn’t always agree with you, you taught me critical thinking, and the ability to anticipate, understand and respect the other person’s argument. It was these conversations with you, Dad, that inspired my studies and career to date. Thanks Dad. I have learned so much from you.

You’ll be happy to know that I went running the other day. I followed one of your usual routes and you were with me every step of the way (actually, a step behind, even at the finish line – but I won’t tell anyone that!). It was awesome. Your spirit lifted my feet and gave me wings, and imagining you next to me pushed me to “sprint to the finish” – Hugh Rowe style!

During your life you ran three marathons, but none as tough as that of the last twenty months, and none with a finish line as beautiful as the one you’ve just crossed.

You’re in heaven now Dad. You’ll get the best seat at every hockey game. In fact, you could probably watch every game and all of them at the same time, if you want.

With the joy of life comes the inevitable certainty of death and we need to appreciate the time we have on this earth, and live the life we want to. You did that Dad, in so many ways, and did it well. You made me proud.

I love you and you’ll be in my heart always.

Your son, Ryan

2 thoughts on “Remembering Dad, my eulogy”

  1. It was wonderful to read and remember your eulogy, dear son. Indeed your father was my best friend and the gentlest man I ever met. He told me when he was a child he used to collect bees in a bottle with his bare hands and never, ever got stung. The bees knew he was gentle and trusted him, as I did and as you did.
    All my love,
    Mom

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