December 20, 2001
I could give this eulogy in five words: my father was a sweetheart. He had a huge heart and a remarkable sense of humor. What more could any of us ask than to be loved and amused. My father did both with ease, he loved us and made us laugh. But, of course, there was so much more.
He was a mensch of the highest degree--a wonderful and honorable man. I don't consider myself merely lucky to be his son, I've been downright blessed. He and my mother gave me the most profound gift that parents can give--the feeling deep down inside that I am loved and cherished. My father respected, admired, and trusted me. And I loved and respected him with equal ferocity.
Of course, my father played a huge role in shaping who I am. I learned from the master how to think funny and make people laugh. He was my comedic sparring partner. His sense of humor never, ever failed him, even a couple of weeks ago when a hospice social worker came to the house. When she drove up my father and I launched into "Dear Kindly Social Worker..." (from Officer Krupke) from West Side Story.
My father was incredibly generous and one of my favorite stories to illustrate involves his cousin Barry, who had a house on the water on Long Island. Barry owned a small boat. When I was 16, Barry bought a second boat as a gift for some relatives who, as it turned out, couldn't accept the gift. So Cousin Barry had two boats on his hands and--one summer day I got a phone call, from my grandmother, telling me that Cousin Barry wanted to give me a boat. I couldn't believe it. I loved boats. It was a dream come true. I was in heaven. For the next three summers that boat was the center of my life. Every weekend I went skiing or cruising. I even got my father hooked on water skiing! It wasn't until years later that I found out Barry had originally offered the boat to my father, and he said, "I would be happy to accept the gift, but only if you give it to Garry."
His generosity, of course,...