Back in April 2014, my dad passed away. My mom asked me if I would write his eulogy, something I never thought I would have to do. Suprisingly, the words came to me easily and only took a few hours. A few people mentioned to me recently, that they will never forget what I said during his funeral mass and were so proud of what I had been able to do. It seemed strange but a lot of what I did say were words I never got to tell my dad. That is my one biggest regret. At the end, I did not tell him I loved him. I believed that he would be alive and that I would see him the next day. I never did. So, I’m putting this out into the universe, hoping that this will reach him, where ever he is in the ether. So he knows that I did and do, love him.
The following was the eulogy I wrote:
I can’t talk about my dad without first, mentioning my mom. There is no one braver, no one as dedicated, no one as fierce in loving in loving as my mother has been with my dad. While others, who may have faced a similar circumstance in life, turned away from one another, my mom has been a keystone, a pillar of support. Never cracking under pressure, never backing down, never giving up, and always looking toward the positive things in life. Even when she was tired, or fighting back her own illnesses, her first and last thought in the day was making sure that my dad was okay. She is the perfect example of what a wife should be. I have learned so much from her through her sacrifices and can not begin to imagine what our lives would have been without her in it. Raising such a handful of a daughter and taking care of both myself and dad at the same time, I know was never easy. Goodness knows I didn’t make it easy. From the bottom of my heart, I say to you, my wonderful mother, thank you for everything that you have done and I love you so much.
These past few days have been filled with a myriad of emotions. Out of all of these feelings, the most unexpected has been happiness. How can someone, anyone, feel happy when faced with such an enormous loss? Looking around, seeing each and everyone of you here, it becomes easier to understand why. If you could quantify the quality of one’s life by the people who are there at the end of it, there is no mistake, my dad indeed lead a happy and fulfilling life. Even when faced with the plethora of health issues that were ever present, he fought back with a smile on his face and a determination to win every battle against his condition. And he did win. Even in the end. His name was Victor after all.
Some of my earliest memories in life, my dad was right in the middle of them, either knowing or unknowingly teaching me a life lesson or at the same time, causing some sort of general chaos. Some of those memories include the day that he indirectly taught me my first swear word which then indirectly led to my first detention in second grade (sorry, Mom.) When, in the quiet of the night while watching a movie, he’d pass gas and blame it on me. Then, all the times he would sit in his favorite chair and laugh at his own jokes.
The day he taught me how to make his secret fishing bait which was only salt, flour, and water. We went out together to the man-made lake in front of our apartment thinking we would catch some small bluegill fish, but instead, we caught a very large, very angry, snapping turtle. After trying to decide if we should keep fishing for the day, as the turtle had swallowed our last hook, he picked up said turtle and proceeded to chase me around the apartment complex with it. My hysterical screams and his maniacal laughter echoing in the early morning air. Think back on the memory there was a hidden lesson there; when life gives you something unexpected, just pick it up and run with it.
But out of all the experiences we shared together, none of these have left as much of an impact with me than the day he tied my first pair of bowling shoes to my feet. They were bright pink with neon green shoelaces. The excitement palpable on my face. I was only five at the time and I had figured out that every time Dad got a higher score than the other guy in the lane next time him, the other guy would have over money. I wanted to be given money too. With money I could buy my own Ninja Turtle action figures. Little did I know that the game he taught me would become a major part of my childhood. It would lead me to life long relationships, fun-filled experiences that I will always remember, and it taught me about sportsmanship. How to be a good and respectful person. He would always say to me, on the days when we would practice together, “Always follow through, Ann.” Follow through so that you always find the target, follow through so that you hit that sweet spot, follow through for that perfect strike.
Follow through. Those words of advice we can apply in our own lives. Follow through on your dreams, your aspirations. Lead a life without regrets, without worrying about what happened in the past for that is something my dad did every day. That common saying is true. Life is too short. So, follow through with it.
Victor Esguerra Padilla, my dad, was truly an outstanding human being. He was an inventor, a engineer, a jokester. He was a kingpin and an underdog supporter. He was a loving husband, that one crazy uncle and the best father a girl could ask for. He was a Jedi Master. He was Batman.
Dad, if you could hear me now and I think you can, I love you and will miss you every single day. Please know that all those lessons you taught me will stay in my heart forever. Whenever it is time to pass those lessons on, I can only hope to teach them in the same way you did. With a little bit of chaos, a whole lot of laughter, and so much love.