Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eulogy, for Dad

This is the eulogy I delivered at my Father's Interment Service:

My father was a man of deep faith. We celebrated that in his Funeral Mass yesterday and will celebrate it again with the Interment Service we are about to do here. However, before that I wanted to talk about my memories of Dad.

On a Saturday morning, my Dad would find me and say, “Let’s go run some errands.” I knew that many times that would also include a stop for breakfast at the Chuck Wagon on Route 40 or, if it was later, a stop for lunch at Fiddles underneath the bridge in Brownsville, PA.

We’d get in the car and run the errands in town. Since this was the prehistoric time before ATM machines, often it meant a stop at the bank, or the Post Office, or the Dry Cleaners. Wherever Dad went he knew everyone and had a bright “good morning” for all. Then we’d start on the back roads for the errands out of town. My Dad knew every road in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

As I got older and found out more about my family history I discovered that my grandfather had not always been there for my Dad. My grandparent’s marriage had not been happy. Family was very important to Dad and that he considered being a father his most important job. I began to understand that this was due to the difficulties that he had experienced as a child. Being an only child, my Mother’s large family basically adopted him. While no one would ever accuse father of being a musician, he was at every school concert where Janice, my sister, and I performed. That was what a father did.

My Dad loved to travel. In the Army he was stationed in West Berlin, Germany. While there he took advantage of opportunities to visit other parts of Europe, including visiting the small town in Sicily where the Gennaula family had originated. He would always tell the story how he was instructed to eat at no one’s house, for if he ate at one and not another it would have started a family war.

Growing up I knew my Dad truly loved my mom, Suzanne. However, my Mom for the most part did not enjoy travelling as much as he did. This led to a period in my preteen years where I would take Father and Son Trips with Dad. I would act as his navigator and tell him where to turn and such. Later they would come to visit me wherever I lived, whether it was New York State, North Carolina, Illinois, or Minnesota. They also visited Janice, her husband Drew, and later their children, whether they lived in Washington DC or Germany. Dad truly loved being a grandfather to Tony, Rachel, Tommy, and John.

After 57 years of marriage, my Mom died. My Dad had cared for her as she had become increasingly frail. Afterward, Dad bought a new car and started travelling to see family and friends. On his travels he visited with Mary Lou and her daughter Dru Anne, in Gettysburg. My Dad had known Ray, Mary Lou’s first husband. Together, along with Mary Lou’s brother-in-law, they had helped Dad finish our basement family room. When my Dad told me that he and Mary Lou were serious and were planning on getting married my first thought was “My Dad is going to marry my CCD Teacher.” Janice, my wife Wendy, and I and our children were so happy to have Mary Lou and Dru Anne join our family. Thank you for being with Dad as he faced these last years of his life.

I have so many memories of my father. What I will remember most however, is my Dad’s smile--his contagious smile, as my cousin Jane recently said. It was a smile that knew of the difficulties of life and how to move pass them through a kind word or just that simple smile. I love you, Dad. Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Tourist Trap

Tonight the role of Wendy Gennaula will be performed by Chris Gennaula.  Last night our "Good to Momma" Blogger took the night off from the Fringe to actually blog a bit.  So, tonight while she is back at her 'Fringe Beat' I will guest blog about a show I saw last night.

North Dakota may say it's legendary, but after seeing "The Tourist Trap", I think South Dakota really deserves that title.  We start with a simple set of a table with a knife, a suit hanging on a coat rack, a door, and a seat that resembles an electric chair with straps but without the wires.  We are in a room of a notorious house, now 'museum' of a notorious cult leader.  Then we told the back story of said cult leader.  But something is amiss... of course.

This is a horror story.  There will be blood, although I was honestly expecting more.  (But that is probably because I just finished binge watching last year's True Blood.)  But, what was lacking in stage blood was made up in suspense of who was going to be the first victim.   The cast brought out the terror of the story as alliances shifted throughout the show.  Each one of the actors had their moment to shine.  I could comment more on those moments, but that would risk ruin by spoiler.

Like many productions at the Fringe, this show felt like it could be expanded into a bigger show.  The running time was around 40 minutes.  I would look forward to seeing the next iteration of this tale.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Eulogy, for Mom

A year ago today, my mother died.  Even though she had been in declining health, it was quite sudden. I had just spoke to her over the phone that morning and everything seemed fine.  At the Funeral Mass I gave the following eulogy for her:


Mom was ‘Jubilant’. Each Saturday Mom would quiz me on the word for the week. This last Saturday she asked me what was another word for “rejoice”. For Mom, I couldn’t give just any synonym—it had to be the one she had in mind. I was not sure which word she meant of the hundreds that would fit the bill.  So, I told her I didn’t know.  The word was Jubilant.  She followed the answer by “See, I taught you something!”

Mom loved to teach. Even from an early age Mom loved to play school and always, she was the teacher. She was the first of her family to go to college. At first she didn’t like it there.  She was away from all of her family—and she came from a BIG family. On a ride back home with her brother George she told him that she wanted to quit. He reminded her that she was lucky to get to go to college and that she could not quit. And I am very happy that she did not.  Teaching led Mom to Dad.

For Mom’s first teaching job out of college was here in town. And in that first class of senior students she taught (wait for it...) my father. Now growing up I did not know how my parents had met. But one day while checking a book out of the college library, the librarian asked, “are you Chuck and Suzie’s boy?” I said yes. The librarian turned to her coworker and told a romance story worthy of Danielle Steel.  In that tale my father had declared his undying love for her right at the night of graduation. Well, I ran home and came in the kitchen door to find them sitting there and said “We have to talk.”  I found out the graduation night story was not true.  They didn’t start to date until after my dad went to college and returned from the army.  But I did find out that one of the other teachers did ask Mom that year “Why is that Gennaula boy always hanging around?”

My mom loved being a mother. I always knew Mom loved Janice and that Mom loved me. She even gave up teaching for a while to have us. But eventually she did go back to teaching. And when it was our time, both Janice and I found out what my father already knew: Mom was a tough teacher! You had to earn your grade—no ifs, ands, or buts. In fact, years earlier she had given my dad a D. After they were married she found that old grade book and realized that she should have given him a ‘C’.  To which Dad replied “How about an A?” Mom and Dad taught by example—on how to learn and also how to have a marriage that lasts.

Mom loved being a grandmother. All those lessons that Mom taught us, we have brought to our own families. Mom became Grammy. She was so happy to be with her grandchildren and to hear about their activities. I would see her light up when she was with them.

Finally, Mom loved God. She passed on to the Lord right here in this church. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus speaks of the faith of children. Mom was lucky to retain a childlike faith and trust through out her whole life. So Mom when I think of you in Heaven I remember your final word to me:  Jubilant.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book review: Mistress of the Vatican. Meh.

Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female PopeMistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope by Eleanor Herman

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

How could I not be attracted to a book about a "Papessa" (lady pope)? The writing is a bit breathless and I question whether some of the conclusions are just extrapolitions. But this is basically "Pulp Fiction" of the 17th Century Vatican. Can't really recommend it much though.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Flock no more...

I fare thee well, Flock.  Thy startup time is doth too great!  I will sigh no more, sigh no more while I await a usable page.  I return to Firefox (loaded with a few choice add-ons.)

Flock Browser - The Social Web Browser

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

Eli Eli lama sabachthani? ("My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?", Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).

This to me is one of the most powerful statements that Jesus ever said. We've all had times when we feel completely alone--times when the entire world seems to have fallen on top of us. As a believer it comforts me that God understands this--that Jesus experienced it first hand.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

All Saints Day

Last night I was speaking with Wendy about a family we met years ago at an Autism Parents' Group. Like us they had 2 sons with autism. During the course of our conversation the mother made a comment about our sons and their sons which have stayed with me for years: “The boys: they are a blessing to each other.”

This morning Wendy saw in the obituaries that one of their sons had died on Friday. Your heart just breaks for the family. We don’t know any of the circumstances. At one point one of our boys was in the same classroom as the boy who died, but it has been awhile. Our lives went in different directions.

We are praying for the family and living in the belief that the boy is enjoying the light of the face of God.