In Memoriam: Orlando DeAcutis (October 1921 - November 2011)
(This past Thursday we buried my grandfather, my last remaining grandparent, in Dallas, Texas. As far as Christian funerals go, it was a good one. We wept for things that deserved a good cry and we laughed in remembrance of things that warranted a happy response. This is the eulogy I gave during the funeral service. It was wonderful to share this experience with my family. It was also very stirring to witness the Marine Corps guard fire its three volleys in his honor at the interment. I have a feeling it will take me several months to properly process his loss, but I'm grateful for a family that will share this process with me and give me permission to do it well.)
December 8, 2011
Lathering his face with a thick froth of shaving cream, he would cut across his cheeks and chin with a thick metal razor. He cut carefully but not fussily. The cuts were always clean and efficient, and I'm guessing that the engineer in him wouldn't want it any other way.
My grandfather did not allow me to interrupt him. I could watch but I was not to interfere with a man's duty. This was man's work.
|Dallas, Texas, autumn 1974|
Yet there was also this. Behind the statuesque figure that was my Italian grandfather was a very tender man who loved his grandchildren with a commitment to invest in their lifelong wellbeing.
Granddad paid for Christine, Stephanie and me to get swim lessons in Guatemala.
Granddad gave money for us to take music classes in Bannockburn, Illinois.
He bought Christine a computer when she returned from England after her first year of college.He made it possible for Stephanie to take ballet lessons in middle school.
He taught me to love the Dallas Cowboys, beginning in 1979.
When I walked into the kitchen I saw something I'd never seen before and never saw again. My granddad was preparing a lunch for me. With meticulous care, he placed a sandwich, an apple, some chips and a candy bar in a paper sack. He wanted to make sure I ate well that day. He wanted me to do well. The gesture represented a small but significant form of love for my granddad.
This past September, right around the time our daughter was born, granddad sent a generous sum of money to Phaedra and me. With the frequent challenges that we have faced since Blythe was born, I don't know what we would have done without his gift. Not a week has gone by this fall when we haven't thanked God for granddad.
While it was clear to me as a little boy that I was not to interrupt granddad's morning shave, this didn't mean I was left un-involved. Even then granddad invested in my education. While I watched, granddad would narrate what he was doing--shaving cream here, the razor just so, a clean face washed down with cold water, not hot, and a splash of musky after-shave to make grandmother happy.
Granddaddy, thank you. Thank you for investing in all of us grandkids and great-grandkids. Thank you for being so very Christ-like in this manner. As someone who carries your name, this is a part of your character that I wish to emulate, with my own kids and grandkids. It is a part that makes me very proud of you, granddaddy, and that I think would make you proud too.
|Granddad and grandmother with my mom and uncle|
|Uncle John, myself and granddad|
PS: There is a strong stirring in me today to see my granddad on the other side of the veil. Come, Lord Jesus, come.