Last week I lost my father, a charismatic man who touched many lives, perhaps none as much as mine. What follows is the Eulogy I wrote for him, and it’s message is one that I felt I should share. Eulogy for Dad:
I have had the pleasure of being raised by the man you know as Christos for 37 years. He has been a husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend to everyone here, and his heart and mind were full of dreams for all of you. Sometimes they may have seemed difficult to understand, so today I would like to share what he truly wanted for, and from, each of us in this church.
My father always wanted us to set higher goals, achieve more success, and discover the security and happiness we are capable of. No matter your stature, or position in society, from those of you who have built multi-million dollar businesses to those of you who have had a hard time holding down a consistent job, he wanted more for you and from you. It was happiness, not riches, that he was after for you and I.
Once you entered his family, whether by friendship, birth, or marriage, you were subject to his dreams and vision for you. Christos had an amazing knack for quickly getting to know you, and seeing what strengths you should be using more, what weaknesses you needed to address, if you needed to be told that you were beautiful, or needed to be taken down a few pegs. He spent many hours thinking of ways he could help friends and family tackle issues that sometimes even they were not aware existed.
Trust me, I know that he would never shy away from telling you what you needed to hear, and sometimes do so willingly in the face of backlash. It confused me for a while why he would do it, why stick your neck out for people who don’t appreciate it, or understand what you are doing. When I had the foolish courage to challenge him on it, he quickly put me in my place with the following: “This my son, is what a Man has to do for the people that he loves. It’s not about me.” It was simple really, he wanted more from you, for you.
Do you know how you know when someone is real? He showed me, because Christos was real. Real is the effortless connections he made with people. He was able to connect with people that most others would fail to, in fact many wouldn’t even try to connect with. People like an Army General who skipped him over higher ranking officers and made him his assistant, a job that would see my Dad orchestrating grand pianos being flown into a Vietnam tent for the general to play. Christos also connected with people like a non-english speaking laborer who he gave the utmost patience to over years as he helped him find his way from destitute to having his own apartment. It goes on, shy little cousins that would only talk to him and people going through an illness that had left them withdrawn, always fell for his caring charm.
He was able to relate to all these different people, to have them fall into trust with him, and to have them want him around. This was because each of those people knew he would do and say everything he could to help them achieve their goals. Whether that meant becoming a jet setting CEO, simply to get approved for a rental apartment, or just to have a day with their mind off their illness.
Whether you needed a job that he could help you get, a loan to buy a diamond for the woman you loved, for him to speak english to the police, or a father to tell you that you could be a better person, he answered that call.
I was lucky to have a front row seat for much of this, and to have his help and guidance up until now. Despite the frequent interaction, I could not predict him. He would catch me off guard to tell me to get my act together, and go easy on me when I knew I had screwed something up. So I am sure he may have surprised a few of you with his input, and the conviction that he delivered it with. Let me assure you, if you were bent out of shape about it, he did not care. His goal was not to make you feel good, it was to tilt your aim higher, and get you to where you deserved to be. He loved you.
Christos often saw more in you, than you may have, and he would tell you. That is rare.
Those of you my father got to know had a place in his heart, and a dream in his mind that whether spoken or not he would pray and strategize ways for it to come true. Even if you doubt it, it is true, he had a dream for everyone he got to know.
He wanted more from each of us, because he wanted more for us.
I would also like to ask each of you here a favor. I want you to think of a story about my dad, and when my fiance Megan and I have our son Christos, I want you share it with him. Those stories of his Papou will help him know the character of the man he is named after, and the character of the man I will expect him to be.
So as we all go our separate ways today, take my father’s spirit with you and look for ways that you, regardless of your means, can help those you love realize their potential and grasp their opportunity for happiness. Sometimes all it takes is time, words, and a prayer.
Thank you Dad for my toolset, my three wheeler, my education, your discipline and determination to help me help myself. When you have a father who does everything that he can to help you achieve happiness, you have an immense advantage and I can not express the deepness of my gratitude.
Your spirit lives on in me, and I promise to aim higher, love more, and do for my children what you never failed to do for us. Thank you Dad we love you.
Hope this finds a way to make you do better things, it didn’t stop the hurt of losing him, but it gave me a goal to chase for the rest of my life.