Hey folks: Usually I post a poem or publication, some good news, holiday wishes, or tips for an adventure. It’s always some kind of writing, but unfortunately, this time it’s a eulogy I wrote for my dad, who passed away Wednesday, April 8th. He was up in years, but his health deteriorated rapidly over the past few weeks. That said, no matter what predicates a loved one’s death, no matter how much you know it’s coming, the reality of that person not being there is sobering. Anyways, we had the funeral this past Monday, the 13th. My mom was tough (picture of her and my dad below); my son and I were among the pallbearers and my brother and I got up to speak, delivering our eulogies. Mine follows. I hope it reminds you of fond memories in your families and reminds us all to hold those memories close, as they happen. Thanks for the read! Doug (and Jude)
Eulogy for Alfred Hoekstra Jr.
It is human nature to try and define people and things, evaluate situations, put things in perspective. For this occasion, the idea is to tell folks about what my dad was like. But, this as always, depends on perspective.
Over the years, as I grew to adulthood, I realized my dad was many things. He was a father, a grandfather, a brother and a son. He was husband of 65 years to my mother, achingly loyal and devoted. He was a World War II veteran, a purchasing agent, a lover of movies and theater, an avid newspaper reader, and a world-class putterer. He was the smartest man I ever knew, sharp right to the end, surfing the computer as naperdude and talking to my brother about his taxes while lying in hospice. He was always there with an answer, even if as I found my own way in life, I didn’t agree with the question.
In the wake of his passing, a flood of childhood memories have been coming back to me. I can’t even recount them all. Going on trips to the Railway museum in Union, tagging along to his part-time job selling houses, stamp collecting with him at the kitchen table, making maps to imaginary places like Ogliphia and Rollo, going to Rose Records in Chicago, hanging out in the basement among his collectibles, calling ourselves the Blessed Basement Buddies. I think of anxiously riding to the train station with my mom when she picked him up from work; baseball games at Wrigley with the whole family in tow; and waking up Christmas mornings with the scorching lights of his home movie camera. Not too long ago I watched those home movies with my son and I saw the happiness in my dad’s eyes, particularly when my mom was around and when Dave, his first son, was born Later, I saw how Dad bonded with my son, Jude, playing board games together, listening as Jude patiently recounted the day’s adventures, or when health still permitted, heading to the Arboretum for ride on the shuttle.
My father is – not was – is – a kind and gentle soul and from growing up around him, I learned the power of understatement, of humor, of grace. Last week, in one of our last conversations, I thanked him for everything he did for me. And, true to form, he said, “I didn’t do enough.” But, that’s not true. My dad did more than enough, and I know we will carry him with us always. I see him in myself, my brother, my son, the memories we hold, the way we live our lives.
His pet name for my son Jude was “the flower of my heart”. But, he is the flower of our hearts, and he will always bloom. Thanks again, Dad, you did way more than enough.