My mom asked me to write and read the eulogy for my dad's funeral service. I stopped breathing for a second, then said "I'd be honored". I lied. I mean, I was honored, but at that moment, I was pretty sure I'd never be able to write a meaningful, memorable, honest speech to eulogize my dad. He was, like, the coolest being to walk the planet ya know. But this is what I came up with, and I read it great until the end; then I cried.
Here it is...
There are a lot of words I could use to describe Philip Hanson: funny, friendly, handsome, genuine, honest (to a fault); but I think the word that fits him best is FAITHFUL. I remember a time in college when I struggled with my religion; I had to learn how to defend Catholicism against other’s beliefs. I asked dad a lot of questions, and his reply was always the same, “I don’t know the answer Margie, I just have faith”. Then he’d say “if you believe, you don’t need proof” then, he’d say “I’ll pray extra for you because you need it.”
And dad didn’t just talk about being faithful, he lived it. When he’d pick us up for an orthodontic appointment, we’d pray a decade of the Rosary on the way; when we were scared in bed at night, he’d hold us for a minute, like all good daddy’s do, then he’d encouraged us to pray for protection. We always said prayers before meals and always said prayers before bed. I’m sure many of you know that my dad attended daily Mass, and he also locked the church at night. I often walked with him to lock the church, and lived some of my best memories right here in this building with him - my siblings could say the same.
When dad’s body started to give out, when the strokes he’d experienced finally took their toll on his independence, he refused to consider living anywhere that didn’t offer daily Mass. I fought that a little bit; I thought he was crazy. But dad understood who he was, he knew what he wanted, and he knew where he was headed when his life ended.
Watching the last few years of dad’s life was tough. Stroke after stroke made it hard for him to talk and eat and stand and walk and feed himself and dress himself, and so on. The whole family struggled with why such a faithful man had to endure such hardships. Near the end of my grandmother’s life, she told me that God gives everyone a cross to carry, and it’s HIS decision when that cross gets laid down, not ours. I can better appreciate her perspective after watching my dad’s journey. Philip Hanson carried a very heavy cross, and he carried it with grace and honor and faith. He was finally able to lay that cross down at 11:57 last Saturday night, and he is at Peace.
We had a celebratory drink with dad at his death and we’ll continue to celebrate his life every day. His energy is with us in traditions, in memories, in moments, and in Spirit. My faith is still growing, and I pray that someday it will match that of my father’s. We’re so blessed to know and love you daddy.
And that was it.
Dad had been ready to die for years. He felt his mission on earth was complete and he wanted to hang with God. It was a happy dad for dad, and for us too, when we were able to stop thinking about our loss and focus on his gain. The service was beautiful. We toasted dad in the limo, and cried all through his military burial service. It was a moment in time not easily forgotten.