Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Grandpa, Carl G. Becker 1925-2011

Writing and delivering the eulogies for my grandparents has been a cathartic yet ultimately gratifying experience. These were two interesting people who touched many lives, and that made the job easier. Unlike my Grandma's eulogy, which came to me in one 15-minute burst, I struggled with my Grandpa's eulogy. Much of it came together at 1 AM today, and I rewrote the first paragraph about two hours before the funeral.

As for speaking, this time was much easier. For starters I had a podium to stand behind, which made me much less self-conscious than I felt standing out in the open with a paper in my hand at Grandma's funeral. The weird part came when I went back to my pew and sat down. I thought of various lines from the eulogy and couldn't remember actually saying any of them! Later my wife, who read the eulogy before I gave it (as did my mom), reassured me that I hadn't skipped anything. It's like my mind went off to a different place to deliver the eulogy. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have made it through. I'm really thankful that I didn't have to give the eulogy after the U.S. Navy flag ceremony, though. There wasn't a dry eye in attendance after that.

When I stood before most of you just four months ago, I didn't expect to be up here again so soon. We expected Grandpa to be around longer, but today we need to celebrate the full 85-year life he had and the great man he was. We're lucky he was a part of our lives for so long.

My grandfather had an incredible zest for life and a buoyant personality. Even as his body aged, he still loved to get up in the morning to take on the new day. He was rarely angry or negative. He had a great sense of humor and laughed a lot. He was an all-around nice guy.

Grandpa was a loving husband, and he and Grandma had 62 happy years together. He adored their daughters and treated not just their spouses, but also their spouses' entire families, as part of his own.

My grandfather was very successful as an agent for State Farm Insurance, and he loved to share his prosperity with family and friends. He provided his mother, his sister, and her husband with a place to live, and he was happy to be able to do so. By the way, if you know anyone who might want to buy a condo in Buffalo Grove, please let us know!

My grandparents were a perfect team of generosity – he earned the money and she loved shopping! Christmas was always a big event with towering stacks of presents and holiday decorations everywhere. When my wife was new to the family, she described it as “Christmas in Disneyland.”

Grandpa was a huge sports fan. He loved the Cubs and Bears the most, but he'd root for almost any Chicago team except the White Sox. For many years, he bought a weekend ticket package at Wrigley Field that the whole family got to enjoy. And of course, whenever Grandpa went along, there were plenty of hotdogs and frosty malts to go around. For a while, Grandpa took the extended Becker family wherever the Cubs went – the Cubs Convention downtown, spring training in Arizona, Cubs Care benefits at Wrigley Field, and even Walt Disney World in Florida. He loved to have everyone all together, from his mom to his grandsons.

Grandpa loved to eat. He could appreciate a fine meal, but he was just as happy ordering a pizza – sometimes all in one night! And if you went out to dinner with my Grandpa, there's no chance you'd be paying your own way. He may have enjoyed buying dinner for others almost as much as he enjoyed eating the food himself. I like to think that he would look at today as an opportunity to treat all of his family and friends to one final, great meal. We'll be gathering later at Toscana, one of his favorites.

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