Eulogy to a Father

My brother-in-law of 46 years passed away last Saturday after a fight with Parkinson’s disease (I never want a disease named after me – not a legacy I’d want). Although he wasn’t famous, his impact on his family, friends, work colleagues and community was great. Not loud or boisterous, flashy or outlandish (ok, he had his moments), his consistent and steady manner steered his life. Here is his son’s, Mark, heartfelt eulogy. It is every father’s wish to hear these words from his sons and daughters.

My Dad lost his battle with Parkinson’s on Saturday. To all those who have reached out, thank you so much for your thoughts and kind words. He will be missed by all. He was the best.


I guess our time together has come to an end. I always thought that it would end much differently. I always thought that we would have more time that you would be a really cool grandfather and take your grand kids to hockey practice and Penguin games, just like Papa did for me. I guess God has other plans.

I am very thankful for today, I am thankful that you are free of your body. I am thankful that you no longer have to suffer in a body that fails you. I am thankful that for the first time in 15 years that you will be able to move however you want free from the shackles of your disease. I realize now how much of you the disease took and how much we all miss you, the old Mikey, the one before Parkinson’s. Man I miss your smile, the way it would light up a room, your corny jokes and your love and vigor for life.

You once told me that you had a hard time knowing that God loved you. I hope that you are feeling his love today and how amazing it is. I hope that he wraps you in his arms and you feel a peace like you never thought possible. And Dad I never doubted the god loved us, I can’t help but look back on our time on this earth together and see his many blessings and love everywhere. Just look at all of the perfect days we had together, we weren’t that good, or that lucky, but we were that blessed.

  • Sunrise at Yosemite
  • 5 Goals 5 different ways
  • 41ST NHL All Star Game
  • The day we caught our Salmon off the dock in Owen Sound
  • Foul Balls at Fenway
  • Winning the Quebec Championship

The memories of these days and others have been so thick these past couple of days since you have passed that I feel as if I am there all over again, that I can reach out and touch you, that time is standing still so that we may have just one or two minutes together.

On the eve of Nora’s birth, Mom asked me if I was scared. No, I responded, I was the furthest thing from scared. Excited was more like it. The reason I wasn’t scared was you Dad, you gave me all the tools and confidence in the world to be a father. You were a great role model and teacher. As Nora begins to grow up and I continue to ask myself what I want to do as a career, I realize the only thing I ever wanted to be was Dad, because you made it look so cool. There was a smile and a confidence in you that only came out when you were with Em and I, we know even though you never spoke it, that your greatest joy and happiness came from being with us and with Mom. Nothing in this world was better than that for you. I know that it always hurt you a little bit to be away from us on business, but you always made us feel that we were the most important things in your life. Those feelings rubbed off on me, I wanted to feel that joy and that happiness, and until Nora was born I couldn’t even fathom what that felt like, but now I understand, now I understand how full they make your heart, how much greater your love can be for someone, how much they change your life. It breaks my heart every day that my kids will never know the father who raised me, that you will never meet your grandson, but I promise you, they will now all about you, who you were, what your values were and what you stood for. How can they not, those are all so much a part of who I am that it will be impossible for me not to pass those down to them. I will probably tell them so many times, that they will roll their eyes and be sick of hearing it. Thanks for giving me all the tools to be a great father and a good husband Dad, this may be the greatest thing you ever did for me.

You have taught me so much and you continue to teach me even in death, you reminded us of our own mortality, that all of our time on earth is precious and we never know when we will be called back to God. You reminded me to treasure every moment, because you don’t know how many moments we have left. I found a copy of a letter you wrote me almost 20 years ago, yesterday in your desk, it is a message that will withstand time.
“You have been blessed with many gifts and I know that God must have something very special in mind for you. Keep close to god and true to yourself. Balance that bravery with humility where necessary. And most of all, enjoy each day….” Thanks Pal, I needed that, and you were one of those gifts I was blessed with. If I can be half the man you were, I will consider it a smashing success.

Well buddy, I guess we know go our separate ways, with nothing but the memories of each other to keep us company until we see each other again. My hope for you today is that somewhere in heaven there is a road just like Little Sewickley Creek, and that it is a cool fall day with a slight drizzle, just like you like it, perfect running weather. As you make the right off of Beaver, and you start up that hill, I hope your legs start to feel better than they ever have before, that you throw off 15 years of disease and discomfort and you have the run of your life. Enjoy that run Mikey, you deserve it. Soon enough you may look over and there I will be on my BMX bike, peddling my butt off just so I can hang out with my Dad on a Saturday morning and we will see each other again.



What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind

-Jimmy Ruffin


Copyright © 2018 David A. Zimmer, All Rights Reserved.

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