1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance
I’ve been rather quiet lately. Not because I didn’t have lots to say, but because I didn’t quite know how to articulate everything I’ve been feeling. My father became increasingly ill after Christmas. This year he decided to skip Lent and on Fat Tuesday he became the newest guest in paradise. Words cannot express the heartache I feel and I miss him more and more every day. The only upside? My father will be looking down and watching over a new little soul that will be joining us in early July. I am still training rather diligently, but I will only be racing the back half of 2017. The death of my father and the expectation of a child have already made this year one that will never be forgotten. “To everything there is a season.” See you at the races.
Richard E. Mahany – Eulogy
Many people know our father as a businessman, a leader, a father, a member of the USAF. Daddy never really spoke about his time in Vietnam. Trying to shelter us from his sad terrible burdens and memories. But dad was a navigator for the Air Force. Earning honors and medals of Valor and heroics. Dad was a navigator in life too. For all of us. Planning our lives with love. Making sure we avoided hazards and horrors to the best of his ability, with his sweet sometimes strong-worded love. Providing the surest route to faith and lives full of happiness and joy. Because of the tragedies Dad experienced, from the loss of his older brother at 13 to his suffering at the end, he knew that flavor and beauty and determination, prayer and diligence led to the things of life we should all treasure.
Dad was always the first to celebrate any holiday in our family. Always cooking, making it a family affair. Mom was the sous chef. And the kids his assistants. One Thanksgiving, several years back, Dad was whipping up a storm of goodies for all of us to enjoy. Two turkeys, all the fixings. Basting the turkeys at regular intervals to make sure it was as tasty and delicious as he dreamed. One problem. The cheesecloth on one of the turkeys caught fire. “Open the door!!!” he a screamed. At all of us. We were a bit slow on the uptake. “Open the door!!!” I rushed to the front door. And opened it. Dad comes running at me with a flaming turkey. And launched it into his front yard. As luck would have it. The turkey landed at the base of a palm tree. And low and behold we had a bit of fireworks on Thanksgiving. That palm tree lit up in a flash fire for all to watch in awe. We had a larger than normal Thanksgiving planned that year with most of Mom and Dad’s children in town. We needed that turkey. Dad picked it up. Off the ground. Brushed it off and said, “No one will know the difference. It will still taste good.”
Dad did that for himself. Always. Picking himself up. Finding his faith in better things to come, in God. And moving forward. For the greater good. He knew that his God, his mom, his dad and uncle Pete always watched over him. Blessing his life with abundance. Remembering their good times. Those were his guide posts as he navigated his life. Daddy provided us all with guide posts as well. Diligence. Reliability. Integrity. Belief in education as the foundation of any success in this crazy world. But most importantly, faith that God and those who went before us provide respite, solace, care and love for us still navigating our way to eternal life.
I was lucky enough to spend several days with my parents in Charleston around Christmas time. Over the course of our stay one thing became apparent: Dad was slowing down. His wittiness was still intact but his response time was a little slower. Mundane tasks like eating breakfast became long drawn out affairs and breakfast became brunch. And simple tasks like getting up and going to powder his nose could take 20 or 30 minutes because he was so unsure of his balance and footing.
All of which made the events of the Tuesday after Christmas even more special. Cyrus and I went to the local grocery store for a few items and when we came back we were in for a surprise. I was putting things away when Cyrus walked over and whispered “Why is your Dad in the garage?” “In the garage?!” I said. Sure enough when I peaked through the door that leads from the kitchen to the garage, which had been left slightly ajar, you could see my Dad. Sitting in the front passenger seat of my parents’ car. In the pitch black garage, illuminated only by the dome light inside the vehicle. We can only guess how long he’d been sitting there.
Somehow the man who took 30 minutes to walk 30 feet had made it out of the living room, through the front hall, through the kitchen, down the ramp in the garage, and into the car. All by himself. An absolutely Herculean feat.
When I approached the car I asked Dad, “Where are you going, young man?” His response? “To church.”
I reminded him it was 3:45 on a Tuesday afternoon and there probably weren’t any services being held. He stared back at me with a look that said, “And? Are you coming or not?” So I grabbed the keys.
We drove the 20 minutes to my parents’ church and as I suspected there were no masses being held. But he wouldn’t let us leave until Cyrus got out of the car and checked every single door looking for one that might be open and gain us admittance. We had no luck, but just being there gave Dad a sense of peace and calm.
Dad’s faith was strong to the end; it gave him comfort and strength and community. He left such an incredible example of what faith is; what it means to be faithful and to be steadfast and to believe.
When friends who have never met our dad hear the news of his passing, I get some variation of the same response. “I didn’t know your dad, but his children turned out to be pretty awesome. He must have been an amazing man.”
They have no idea how right they are. Dad, you were truly amazing.
Thank you for your generosity. For taking in children and stepchildren and grandchildren when they needed help the most. For sharing your gifts to support the church and higher education. For dropping everything and giving your time to those in crisis.
Thank you for your integrity. For serving and showing us what true heroism looks like. For setting standards and stating your principles – then holding true to them come hell or high water. For showing us what a father should be.
Thank you for your guidance. For putting our schooling above all else. For being our first coach and mentor. For helping us take a step back and look at the bigger picture. For stepping back just enough to let us fly.
Most of all, thank you for your love. For your funny faces, your silly made up songs, family church outings and long breakfasts, holiday meals made with care, presents with the gift of time, always asking how’s school, how’s your running, how’s the weather? For making us feel special and cared for and cherished. Your love was the greatest gift a child could ask for.
You saw some things in your lifetime that would destroy a lesser man. We are so lucky to have had you in our lives for as long as we did. Thank you for everything. We love you bigger than the sky.
As Dad told us a little over a week ago, his faith in peace, comfort and eternal love still unwavering, happy days are here again.