a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dad's empty room

Today was set aside to deal with my father’s belongings, two weeks after he died of a weakened heart at age 84.
For a man who liked to spend more money than he ever earned, his bedroom was filled mostly with junk. The beautiful World War II Army pin stored in the desk drawer will go to my older brother Skip. I will keep the photo identification badge found in the same drawer, one that he wore at the steel mill in Monessen.

Mill badge

My younger brother has taken some of the war medals and was given the U.S. flag our mom received at the funeral.
James Robert Beveridge
Most of his clothes will go to Washington City Mission for the homeless or resale in its thrift shop. The huge stack of losing Pennsylvania Lottery scratch-off tickets on his dresser will go to the curb for the trash man, along with the rest of the useless clutter.
I went to call dad the other day to tell him about a woman who told me that her husband was once his coworker. I guess that is going to happen. We’ll miss his stomping around, slamming doors and grumbling about the home heating bills.

His eulogy follows:

Thank you all for coming today.

My brothers and I cannot begin to express our gratitude for the support you all have shown our mother this week. It’s been overwhelming, and Dad would have been so impressed.

It’s no secret that Jim Beveridge had a gruff exterior. But anyone who really knew him, knew that his sometimes dark moods masked a generous heart, especially for those who were down on their luck.

While he had few relatives to speak of, he rarely declined to open the doors to our home to countless members of our mother’s family, the Harts, when they needed something to eat or a bed when they had nowhere else to call home. This was the true test of his character. He cared deeply for her brothers and sisters, and treated their children as if they were his own. When they did something he didn’t like, they heard about it in no uncertain terms.

While our parents were known for their arguments, at the end of the day, their spats boiled down to who could be the most stubborn. Their stubbornness and passion for living are largely the reasons why we have been so fortunate to have had them at our sides for this many years.

In reality, dad worshiped our mom. Never questioning his machoness, dad took charge of the domestic chores. He shopped for the groceries, cooked the meals, did the laundry, vacuumed the floors and took out the garbage. That is, until age got the best of him, and he began to depend more and more on our mom’s sister, Bonnie, to pick up the slack. We don’t know what we would have done without her these days. And he has always greatly respected mom’s sister, Shirley Rozik, for her gentle wisdom and undying friendship.

Dad was so proud of his three sons and took delight in his grandchildren and daughters in law. He loved to talk history with my older brother, Skip. He read every article I have written for the newspaper. And he looked forward every day to talking endlessly about politics on the telephone with his youngest son, Kelly.

He was never ashamed to tell people that he lived in Webster. He took such pride in his old house, even if it meant spreading a tad too much Liquid Nails on anything that jiggled. I swear, a hurricane will not blow down that house because of the glue that holds it together. It was the only home he ever knew, having moved around with his parents far too often during the Great Depression while his father looked for work.

Dad looked forward each spring to planting flowers in his front yard. The yellow ones were his favorite. And he couldn’t wait to string lights on the front porch every Christmas and admire from a distance how his house glowed on the street.

Politics really was his passion. He was a diehard Democrat, who hated corporate greed and dirty politicians. Just last week, he could recite the players in the Scooter Libby scandal better than Wolf Blitzer on CNNs Situation Room. He loved his television

Televisions played directly to his kitchen, bedroom and even the bathroom. As children, we watched the Vietnam War play out at the dinner table over Hamburger Helper. I was so thankful when Betty Crocker invented Tuna Helper because it gave us something different to eat. Together these skillet dinners became surf and turf with Walter Cronkite.

Even though dad had an incredibly short temper, he did have sense of humor. He could laugh at himself, especially when we teased him about how he butchered the English language.

He didn’t wear a Scottish plaid hat. He wore a played hat. He ate feesh on a deesh. He so much wanted to vote for Iraq Osama in the upcoming presidential election, not Barack Obama. And the religious sect in Eastern Pennsylvania was AAA-mish, not Amish.

But in the end, we are most proud of dad for his Protestant work ethic. He believed in setting his alarm to make sure he got to work on time and earning an honest wage. He never put out his hand for help or took something that didn’t belong to him. For these reasons, we couldn’t have asked for a better role model.

Thank you again for being here today.

1 comment:

Heidi Price said...

Well done you Scooter. A very honest yet touching tribute to you father.