Friday, May 21, 2010

Saying Goodbye... My Eulogy for my Father

My dad passed away this past Monday from brain cancer.  
It was the hardest day of my life.  I was holding his hand as he passed away.  
It was brutal... but I was glad to be there with him for his final journey.  
The second hardest day was today, the funeral.  
As I wrote Dad's eulogy this week, I focused on the one thing that made Dad who he was: humor.  
So please enjoy the anecdotes about Dad.  
He was an amazing man.
I wish you all could have met him.


When I was a kid, I didn't realize how amazing Dad was. I figured everybody's dad was funny, smart, talented and liked to exclaim on New Year's morning, “Well... There's another year... shot in the ass.”

Dad, or Mr. Daddy as we liked to call him, was simply the best. He had an amazing blend of business savvy and complete silliness. I feel like Sara and I have all the best qualities of him. Especially if you consider “impatience” a positive quality. Which, by the way, we do.

We heard from our grandparents about how precocious Dad was from the very beginning. Grandpa loved to tell a story about when Dad was 4-years-old. Eolin legend has it that Grandpa was doing yard work and filled up a bucket of water. He left to get something and when he gave back, there was Dad and an empty bucket. Grandpa asked him, “What happened to the water?” And Dad, quick as lightening stated, “Oh, a little worm came out of the ground...”  And at this point, my dad used his finger to illustrate the worm tipping over the bucket...  Yep.  Blamed it on a worm.

Another story Grandpa told about Dad that really describes Dad's personality was about his toy wagon. When Grandpa went away to be in the Navy during World War II he built our dad a wooden wagon. When Grandpa came back he gave Dad the wagon which he LOVED and played with all the time. In fact, he used that wagon so much that it finally broke. Dad kept pestering Grandpa to fix it but one thing or another kept delaying the repairs. One day, Dad got into some sort of trouble, as he was aught to do, and Grandpa used the phrase, “Robert, shape up or I'll fix your wagon!” to which Dad's eyes widened and he said eagerly: “GASP! You're going to fix my wagon!?!” 

His mischievous ways continued well into his teens. He was sent home from school with a note that stated that perhaps Dad had hypnotized a kid down the street to cluck like a chicken every time the bell rang. To which his mother, our grandmother replied, “Oh that kid? He deserved it!”  

I know... we're all starting to make more sense to you all now, aren't we?

After high school he enrolled at Corning Community College. Grandpa was very adamant that Dad be an engineer like him. Unless being an engineer included being goofy (which by the way, it did not) he wanted nothing to do with it. But he relented and took some engineering courses including calculus. In short: he was bad at it. Really bad. Like “flunking out” bad. His professor told him that he'd give him a D+, allowing him to pass if he promised to NEVER ever use calculus in his life ever again. “DONE!”  Our dad ran out of there and told his parents that he wasn't going to be an engineer, he was going to film school. I think I'm putting it politely when I tell you that this news was not received well. But it was that day that an entertainer was truly born.

An early memory of Dad that to me seemed pretty normal was coming home from school one day to find Dad in the kitchen with a mime and I thought, “Oh yeah, that makes sense. I hope there's juice in the fridge.” He was filming a series of PSAs for the television station group he worked for to help explain the ease and convenience of the metric system for when the US changed over. Needless to say that this debut has been bumped 30+ years so far. Fingers crossed for a 2011 premiere.

Dad had a plethora of hobbies. He painted, built and refurbished furniture. He made Sara and I the best doll houses when we were kids. And I still want to play with mine but I hear that it's "age-inappropriate."  He also loved to cook. When we were kids, he'd make omelets using 12 eggs and it would take 45 minutes for EACH omelet. We don't know why. During football season, there was homemade pizza every Sunday. But his favorite mode of cooking was via the grill. He even made the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys on the grill, despite the typical east coast weather. Sara and I talked and we agreed that zero pieces of meat (except for bacon) have been cooked inside the Eolin household for the past 17 years.

But his favorite thing to do was to shoot short films. When he was a part of the Lancaster Advertising Club in PA, he made a short film for their annual Cameron Awards ceremony every year. He directed and acted in them and I remember being struck with how talented he was. Which was quite the accomplishment for me as I was a snotty teenager at the time. This was the first time I became proud of my dad. This was the first time he became more than the guy who made sure my homework was done, or told me to eat my cube steak.... he became a person.

Sara and I also worked for our dad when he and Mom took over WCBA AM-FM. He was a great boss. He taught me everything I needed to know and was uncharacteristically patient about it. He liked my work. He gave me more commercials to put together and voice. He let me DJ and make decisions. I was only 17 years old. So obviously he was either a genius or crazy.

Dad always supported everything that Sara and I did. Sara got into advertising and she and he would chat shop about the industry. It usually contained a few four letter words, which I of course didn't understand. I am a writer and we would get together and talk about stories and how they are told. He introduced me to comedy and sitcoms as a kid and he fully supported me when I moved to LA to pursue this.

When dad became sick, I moved to NYC to be closer. As a bonus, I've been able to work with my sister who had been living there for 12 years already. I see our dad in her everyday. He ability to do business WELL and with a smile on her face is a mirror image of Dad. She is humorous and quick. She also doesn't take any crap from anyone, just like Dad. And I find this very comforting.

I will be honest and tell you that Dad's passing does not feel real yet. I feel like he's out on some exciting trip and will burst through the door at any minute. I am sad that our mom has lost her partner. They were brilliant together. Caring, clever, talented and might I say quite good looking. I will miss Dad's wisdom and laughter. I will miss seeing him and Mom sitting in the library, drinking tea and looking out the window chatting about the wildlife in the yard. I will miss every little thing about him and how he lived his day to day life.

But thankfully we have all these memories and they are GOOD memories. He died surrounded by the his family:  Mom, Sara, Sam, Baby Nate, all 3 dogs and myself.  He knew how loved he was, and we knew how loved we were back.

My sister and I count ourselves lucky to be raised by a man who gave us the dating advice to never date anybody who honked in the driveway instead of coming to the front door; who wore a tie that didn't reach his belt; or looked like a porn star. Needless to say, he was not your ordinary run of the mill dad. And hopefully our memories of him will keep life from becoming ordinary without him...


  1. wow...I lost it from the beginning.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this Jennifer! I am sending lots of love your way. Love, love, love.

  3. I can tell he was quite proud of you...and after reading this, so am I.

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss, Jennifer. He sounds like a wonderful guy, and I'm glad you've got such great memories of him to last forever.

  5. Very well done, Jennifer. I would hope that if someday I am to eulogize my own father that I would do it as eloquently and thoughtfully as you have yours.

  6. Beautiful, Jen. I have tears in my eyes at work now, but it is truly a beautiful eulogy.

  7. What a beautiful tribute. Can't write more, my eyes are welling up.

  8. What a wonderful tribute to your father. I am so, so sorry for your loss and keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  9. Thank you for sharing a piece of your dad with us. He sounded like an incredible father, husband and all around good person...which is much too rare in today's world.

  10. Beautiful. Crying at work. Don't care. This is great, and your dad sounds like an awesome guy.

    Love and condolences...

  11. Jennifer, I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so hard to lose someone so dear. Thank you for sharing your dad with us.

    Lots of love,

  12. He sounds like an amazing man...sorry for your loss :( Keep your head up!

  13. THANK YOU for reading, everyone. I wish you all could have met him in person. Hopefully this gave you a glimpse as to what an amazingly wonderful and funny man he was in life and still IS in my memories of him.

  14. I lost my father 16 years ago this year and I miss him all the time. He is with me always and your awesome father will be with you.

  15. Jen,

    It's taken me days just to even think about what to say. Lori and I are so very sorry for your loss. Your Dad was one of those very rare people with the ability to understand how to be highly creative while running a successful business, and he was certainly inspirational to me as I got my own career off the ground.

    I can think back to the times when I visited your family in Corning, and folks in town KNEW your Dad. Not just as the local morning show guy, but as someone who really made a difference in the community.

    You and I have both worked with the kind of air talent or station owner who has to be dragged out to some fundraiser. Your Dad was the polar opposite: committed to making every day count, to making us laugh, and to making sure his audience thrived.

    We're all worse off without him around, but none more so than you, Sara, and Dee. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

  16. Jennifer,

    I just wanted to say that I am SO SO sorry to hear of your great loss. Thank you for sharing about your father. Wow- I can see he was a very special, amazing man. I think it's beautiful how you honored him with your words. I know he must be proud. Continue to celebrate his life. I pray that you and your family will be comforted during this season.



  17. Jen, I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray for your family at synagogue this week. I can't imagine your pain but remember that G-d and your father are watching over you every day. Souls are never gone so long as they are remembered.

    If you need anything, please don't hesitate to contact me.

  18. I'm so sorry for your loss, but this was beautifully done. I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for you to write it. I never knew him (obviously), but I know he was proud of you- sounds like a great guy :o)

  19. That was so touching. I had tears and giggles through the entire eulogy. I'm sure he was so proud of you and will continue to be. I wish I could have met him. Can't wait to give you a big hug when I see you in July.

  20. He sounded like a quirky and fun guy who loved his family very much. Thanks for sharing your dad with us who never knew him but feel just a little bit closer to him thanks to his beautiful, quirky and fun daughter. Hugs to you, my dear friend.

  21. I'm so, so sorry.
    You wrote an amazing eulogy, because I finished it thinking "I wish I could have met him...but I kinda feel like I already know him."

  22. Hi Jennifer,
    That was a great eulogy for your dad. I would have liked to have been able to have seen him one more time and been there for the funeral. I'm so sorry that you and Sara lost your dad and your mom lost her partner. I always thought they had such a connection to each other.

  23. You all are so supportive and wonderful. THANK YOU for your comments and love. They mean the world!



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