My father, John Betke, passed away September 17, 2010. I was honored to give his eulogy. Thinking about him this week I thought I might share it.
Dad at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 2006.
It's been overwhelming, but not surprising, to see so many people come out to pay respects to John. I've spoken with childhood friends from Valley Stream, neighbors from Rockaway Turnpike, so many colleagues from Lufthansa, and friends and family from Commack, especially all of the Keenan family.
Everyone has great memories, some from old times and others more recent, but every story ends with the same sentiment, about how much Dad gave of himself, and how generous and helpful he always tried to be.
I know how he helped take care of his parents and Aunt Linda and Uncle Eddie, how much he's done for Grandma Keenan and how involved he was at Abiding Presence. But there are so many friends and neighbors reminding me of times Dad visited a sick friend at the hospital, or remembered that someone liked chili or pumpkin pie, so he would bring some along next time he visited. And how so many colleagues at Lufthansa became lifelong friends because of the interest or help Dad showed them.
Dad was a thoughtful man. He listened to people and remembered what was important to you. He cultivated these friendships through a million acts of kindness that endeared him to all of us. He did this out of love, especially for those who needed the most help or care.
When Dad just told me he was sick he said he didn't have a "bucket list." He wasn't going to change his routine or rush to get things done. I know I find comfort thinking about experiences we shared, and which most of us here shared with him in some way. Family dinners and work picnics, road trips upstate or down south, and adventures overseas, bowling and snooker and golf; Dad enjoyed himself. He made the most of his life, especially his life with Ellen and Meagan, and I think he showed myself and my three sisters how to travel, how to compete, how to eat, and how to be happy.
When I get back home to Chicago this week I think I'll cook up some of John's Swedish meatballs and maybe some chili, and I'll think about ways I can be more like Dad, a little more thoughtful and kind, a little more giving of myself.