Eulogy for Uncle Francis
These are the four words that I use to describe my Uncle. He was, to me, a very strong, very quiet and very affectionate and loving man.
Many men are raised in this world without the benefit of having any positive role models in their life. My Uncle was one of these. As my Mother said shortly after he passed, Francis had become an incredible man of strength, integrity and love and he had done it in spite of having little guidance in becoming so. He had chosen to be that way and he found his own path in life. He forged his personality through the strength of his own character.
In my life I have had the honor of having three incredible men to show me what being a man is all about. My grandfather Carl who was as honorable a man as you will ever meet, my own father, Mick who was also a quiet and strong man with an endless love for his family and my Uncle Francis.
Through Francis I have learned that we can be more than the situations of our youth might suggest for us. That we can have the strength of will, the personal desire, and the capacity to overcome obstacles presented to us and to become the type of person who is admired and loved by all who meet us.
Francis had a great capacity for love. I can see it in the grief of his friends, the grief of his family and most especially in the grief of my Auntie Lorna. We do not grieve for his loss. I believe he is in a much better place than this now, joining those who’ve already gone and preparing a place for us all when our time also comes.
We grieve because our own lives are now less than they were before. Without his love in our lives we feel a great emptiness. And that is unbearable. So we grieve, and in grieving we are, together, lifting the voices of our souls to Francis and letting him know that he mattered to us. That he is and will be missed in our lives.
When I was little I visited the Philippines. I was maybe 7 the last time I visited. And I was away from my Dad who had stayed here and I felt very lost and alone. But Francis took me under his wing. He was always a creative man. A tinkerer, who could turn anything into an artistic piece. At the time he was making jewelry and he showed me how he made rings. And in showing me his craft he made me feel connected to him, he made me feel special and he made me feel loved. I have never forgotten that kindness and that warmth he gave to me as a child. And so I was very excited when I heard he was finally coming to the US. I’ll never forget the look of surprise when we met again and he saw how much I’d grown. All he could say that whole night was, “You’re so big!” “David, you are so big!” . . . that, and also, “I’m so cold!”
I for one am a better man for having known my Uncle. We didn’t talk much. I don’t think he ever became fully comfortable speaking English with me. I’m sure I spoke too fast for him sometimes and I think he felt like he spoke too slowly for me. So instead we had developed a sort of silent language of nods and glances over the years. His approval coming in a sort of quiet nod, his disapproval in a glance through his squinted eyes. We understood each other without saying words.
What words needed to be said were often expressed through Karaoke. And usually that meant me singing… For hours. I’d say, “Uncle, why don’t you sing?” He’d just smile and say, “no that’s all right I just want to hear you sing.” And I’d continue. And continue. And continue. But I never wanted to stop singing for him because his acceptance of me always felt so good, and the look of joy on his face as I sang was always more satisfying for me than I could ever describe.
I will miss my Uncle Francis. But I will never forget him. His influence on my life will forever be felt. His example will continue to guide me in how I love my family, how I treat the women in my life and in how I will continue to push myself to be more than I am today. I thank him for being such a positive energy in my life and I look forward to the day when our souls can sing together once again.