I don’t know the author, but I recently reach a statement about the impact of a Father:
“If after you are grown, you think back on your Father, and you smile, you were raised by a great man.”
My father was a great man. He was proud, yet humble. He was kind to everyone and lived his life with integrity. Many would say he was an average hard-working American man. A loving husband and father as well as an active member of his church and community.
My father died unexpectedly on January 7, 2020. He was 90 years old and for being 90 appeared in fairly good health. He walked to a senior sneakers exercise class three times a week, partly to exercise but mainly to socialize. Every day he walked CVS Pharmacy to buy a newspaper and talk with the staff. If it was cold (he lived outside of Buffalo, New York), he would walk laps around the pharmacy and talk to everyone in store.
On Saturday January 4 he took he usual walk, and was watching his beloved Buffalo Bills in a playoff game. I spoke to him at half time when the Bills were ahead. He told “It’s only half time don’t get too excited; we have been through this before.” He fell asleep sitting on the couch watching the game and had trouble standing up in the morning. He pressed his medic alert button and the paramedics came to the house. Since he was 90, they brought him to the hospital to be safe.
He went into the hospital on Sunday morning for what we thought was dehydration. He appeared to be progressing well on Monday. Tuesday morning his sister and brother-in-law came to visit. One of my sisters and brothers and a cousin were also there. They were talking and laughing. My father was actively engaged in the discussion. Then he said “I’m tired. I am going to close my eyes for a moment.” He closed his eyes and passed away. No pain. No suffering. No living in a home. No tubes. He died on his own terms.
Over 600 people came to the viewing and 500 attended the service. Many people remarked “Your father was well loved. Normally at a funeral for a 90-year-old, we have twenty to thirty people.
I was chosen by my brothers and sisters to deliver his eulogy. It was a great honor, but how does one sum up 90 years of living in ten minutes. Here is what I said. I hope I made him proud.
Good Morning, it is so good to see all of you although I wish it was under better circumstances. On behalf of my brothers, sisters, children, nieces, nephews, great nephews and grandchildren, we truly appreciate the overwhelming outpouring of love and support you have shown us during the very difficult time. We cannot thank you enough.
We will be hosting a celebration of life brunch today starting at 12:30 at the Clarion Hotel. Please join us and share your stories and thoughts about our father, one of the most remarkable men we will ever have the pleasure to know.
Many of you braved the heat and humidity to attend my father’s 90th birthday celebration this past July. And today you braved the cold and wind to be here. It is easy to see why - because to our father, all of you are family. Family means everything to our father. He gave up his railroad career, which required a great deal of travel, to be home more after Mary Anne was born.
He passed on opportunities to move to California and Delaware to work in Aerospace, to say close to our large extended family. He kept the Zaccari reunion going for decades so we would not lose touch with our roots.
The great author and speaker Simon Sinek wrote:
"Integrity is when our words and deeds are consistent with our intentions. "
Now think about that, because this is how our father lived every moment of his life.
Let me share some examples of his integrity:
In 1967, Mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was also pregnant. Medical history at that time said NO ONE had ever survived this combination. Dad had to prepare himself to not only lose his wife, but to raise five children all under the age of 14. Fortunately Mom survived. During this ordeal, I never once heard Dad complain, "Why Me", He was ready to do whatever it took...That's Frank Zaccari AND that's life with integrity.
In 1970 it appeared Cardinal Mindszenty High School was going to close. Dad led a group of parents who helped raise the money through donations and bingo to keep the school open another nine years until Steve graduated...That's Frank Zaccari AND that's life with integrity.
In 1985 our family suffered through our greatest challenge, the terrible accident that nearly killed Steve. We were all devastated, afraid and angry, yet Dad never complained or lamented, "Why did this happen to Us?" As always, he was prepared to deal with the situation, no matter what it took...That's Frank Zaccari AND that's life with integrity.
I have one more for you. In his retirement Dad continued to stay involved with the Challenger Sports Program for disabled children, he continued to work bingo, and was caretaker for Steve's house in Phoenix for decades. He didn't expect praise or accolades, he does what he believes is right. That's Frank Zaccari… you know what's coming, on three say it with me, 1, 2, 3 and that's life with integrity.
And now our father has been re-united with our mother and the child they lost so many years ago. They are surrounded by all our other family members who have left this world. As you can imagine, it is quite a celebration.
Today we are all sad, but our father is at peace and happy. If you close your eyes and listen, if you really listen - you can see and hear our mother and father dancing to their favorite song, Tenderly, by Nat King Cole.
Listen and celebrate their joy.