April 25, 1923 ~ September 5, 2012
THE EULOGY I WROTE FOR DAD, GIVEN AT THE WAKEI would like to say a few words about our dear father – James Patrick Ward. And would like to speak mostly in the present tense, for in truth my Dad, in his consciousness, in his spirit, is still very much alive – he has simply crossed over – to the other side, to home, where the physical body is no longer needed – to a place of light, of peace, of grace, and freedom. I have heard dying described as like having been in a rather stuffy room where too many people are talking and smoking, and then suddenly you see a door that allows you to exit, into fresh air and sunlight. Or perhaps it is like getting out of an old car that no longer works properly, which has been traveling on a very crowded, noisy street. We thank the car for its many years of service – as we thank our body and our mind for all the experiences of life, some painful, some joyful, and for what we have learned and how we have grown. We thank them for serving us well. But now, when our work and purpose here is completed, it is time to step out of that rather confining car, and step – free – into the Light! Indeed, this Earth is often a difficult school room, and now it is time for graduation! And so, as you know – my dear father was, is – a good and honorable man, a wonderful and loving husband and father. He is also a spiritual man – a man of kindness and compassion, who loves and cares so very much about his family, and also about humanity, the environment and animals, and making the world a better place. He was always there to lend a helping hand when he could. And Dad was liked and admired by so many friends and colleagues throughout his life. This is a beautiful little piece I found in his writings, and I quote ‘Sprinkling a bit of love and kindness to friends, relatives, and yes, to strangers every day gives one a cozy, comfortable feeling when you rest your head on your pillow at the end of the day.’ Dad of course served his country honorably in the army. He always believed in Democracy – in democratic values and ideals. In Senior High School, after campaign speeches (he’s good at making speeches) and classmate voting, he was elected Class President in 1939 and 1940, and statewide Student Council President in 1941. Our Dad is also a man with strength of character and conviction. Truth, fairness, and justice are important to him. Peace among nations and human rights are important to him – the rights of others, and his own. And he wasn’t afraid to stand up on occasion with a picketing sign either. – I recall that time many years ago when he picketed outside I think it was Kaufman’s Carpeting. They had installed Mum and Dad’s home with some faulty carpeting and would not replace it. And if I remember correctly his picketing was successful. (Jimmy had added that yes it was successful, they wanted him out of there!) I was proud of him for that, and for many other things. And I can see how so many of my and my brothers’ own beliefs and qualities have come from our Dad and Mum. Dad always had an intelligent mind, and liked to keep up with politics and current events and trends. [Regarding trends for example, some years ago when one of my nieces had either received or given one single sunflower, instead of a bouquet of other type flowers, Dad had commented that he liked that because it was different. This is why I had placed a single sunflower on his casket.] He was also interested in health and healing subjects, and many other topics and issues, quite a well-rounded person. And even though he had dementia during the last few years, and at times was confused, other times his mind was very clear, and through 2008 or maybe 2009, he still listened to ‘Meet the Press’ on a Sunday morning, and could still understand and discuss it, often better than the rest of us. It must have been hard for an active man who enjoyed golf and being independent, to be confined to a wheelchair during these past several years. And it was difficult and tragic for a man with such a keen and creative mind – and a man who appreciated the beauty of nature and my Mum’s lovely face – to be afflicted with dementia, and to loose his eyesight. And of course at times Dad was discouraged or distressed. But even with all the illness and suffering he went through during these last years in the hospital and the nursing home, he still stayed positive and good humored most of the time, and indeed, even grateful. For even when he was very sick again in the hospital with pneumonia in January 2010, and it was difficult for him to speak, he would say to us how fortunate he is to have a loving family, and that he wasn’t bored in the nursing home because he had Andre Rieu, or the Irish Tenors, and more recently his favorite singer, Susan Boyle, to listen to. And when the dementia became worse and it was hard to communicate, he still remembered the most important words, telling us ‘God love you’ , ‘God bless you’ , and that he loves us. And whenever I spoke to him about Bobbi, our African Grey Parrot that he loves dearly, it always brought a smile to his face. I feel that a really strong man is one who is not afraid to show tears sometimes, and Dad was such a man – at least in these later years anyway. I remember when I gave him the rosary made in Ireland of Connemara marble, and told him I had gotten it blessed by then Archbishop Timothy Dolan of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, tears filled his eyes. And I remember times when he, Mum, and I were watching Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman on PBS, and we were moved to tears, sometimes tears of joy, by their magnificent voices and moving songs, especially when Dad saw that Andrea is blind and this was at a time when Dad was loosing his own eyesight. [Dad especially loved and commented on in his writings ‘Love Changes Everything’ sung by Sarah Brightman. He also liked ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from Evita, and ‘The Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera. Years ago he had even thought he may want these two played at his funeral.] Indeed, Dad really enjoys and appreciates good music. I found a piece he wrote in 1999 where he stated how certain music or song can be a catalyst to activate our deepest feelings and innermost thoughts which we hardly ever express, and that it would be good if we could take the time to express these more often, putting them on paper. In fact Dad did some creative writing, including a very helpful sales booklet – ‘PAIDAI’ , and ‘Audrey’s Story’ , covering the period when he and Mum met at a Valentine’s Day dance in England to when she arrived in America. And I recently found in his files that a few years ago he was in the process of writing his own story ‘Growing up in Framingham – 1923 to 1943’ . I see that he had a happy childhood growing up on his beloved Beaver Street. So thank you so much Dad for all your love, caring, and concern. Thank you for your hard work and dedication over the many years, getting up early each morning for the long commute to work, to provide for us your family. Thank you for your many prayers – how you would stand in front of our big family portrait on the wall and pray for each one of us at night before going to bed. Thank you for being an inspiration to me. Thank you for piggy-back rides, and helping me with my homework and science projects. Well, gee you didn’t just help me with science projects, I think you practically did them for me! That model of Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone that you built for me was great. Thank you and Mum for fun times and laughter, for warm and loving holiday celebrations, for family vacations in beautiful England and Italy and at the Cape and Disney World, for the fun of dancing with you at weddings, and listening to the New Year’s Day concert each year from Vienna – how you loved the ‘Blue Danube Waltz’ and especially the ‘Radetzky March’ . Thank you for your good ideas and projects you wanted to do, even though due to procrastination you didn’t always complete them. I think my father and I are the President and Vice President respectively of the Procrastinator’s Society! One idea of yours I especially love is the – Own a Bit of ‘The Old Sod’ , – a miniature Irish thatched cottage with a tiny fenced in garden in front with genuine Irish soil and a shamrock growing. I have seen something similar since then but without the cottage, and I believe you had the idea first Dad. Thank you for really appreciating my poetry and spiritual writings. Thank you for loving Mum with all your heart, and for being such an anglophile of things English. Thank you for your courage, for being strong for us, even when you were going through so much. Thank you for your sense of humor and positive nature, for your guidance, your wisdom, loyalty, and support. And thank you for your comforting words ‘Good night, God bless’ which you often pronounced like – Good night, Go Bless (as if saying go and bless others, I love that!) Thank you Dad for these and so much more. Thank you for being my Dad, our Dad, Papa, and Mum’s beloved husband. We miss you and we love you very much. And God loves you. And you are still with us Dad, just in another place – upon that beautiful, heavenly shore – where you are re-united with your Ma and Pa, your sister Betty, your brothers, Tom, Mike, and John, nephews Michael and Tommy, and your long time good friend Charlie Alexander. And Dad I know that now your mind is clear again, and you can walk again with ease, and dance again (maybe you and Uncle Mike are doing an Irish jig up there in heaven!). And yes my dear Dad – now you can see again ‘¦ and you can see the precious, radiant face of Jesus. Where there is love, we are never parted. We all love you Dad, always and forever. Good Night, Go Bless!