The Legacy of Hugo and The Ultimate Gift
Eulogy by Kathy Guidi, Aug 30, 2012
When we first heard that Dad had a terminal illness, and I came to Florida to live with him and Mom during his last months, several people said to me, “this is a gift”.
And I wondered, how could there be a gift in such a circumstance? Through the sorrow, through the pain, through the sadness, and through the grief, it is hard to see the light: the gift.
But as the weeks progressed, there were many glimpses of joy and happiness, laughter and smiles. And if I listened closely to my heart, there, indeed, were many gifts.
Dad gave me the gift of remembering – remembering who I am and where I come from. I remembered happy times from my childhood; I learned new things I didn’t previously know.
I remembered that dad was an incredible athlete, having played football, baseball, bowling, and basketball throughout his youth and into his early adult life. He was an exceptional basketball player, and used to tour around the country playing in the Eastern Athletic Association of the Deaf championships. He was so good that he was inducted into their Hall of Fame back in 1976.
Dad gave us the gift of creativity. Having been a drafstman throughout his career, he was quite clever with his hands – he could make anything, from kitchen cabinets to adding a new porch onto the house. He also liked to tinker with artsy things and his most recent enjoyment came from building models with ice cream sticks. He could look at a picture of something and then figure out a way to make it. Mom and dad’s home is a tribute to their creative projects.
He gave us the gift of silence. Though our mixed household of deafness, hearingness, and hard of hearingness had it’s fill of noise – loud TV’s, yelling, and lots of banging – it was often a house of quiet and stillness. As a child I loved to sit on Saturday afternoons and watch Wide World of Sports with dad with the TV voice turned off. I’ve come to embody that stillness – I love to sit in silence, appreciating the natural sounds of nature around me.
Dad also gave us the gift of gardening. I remember mom and dad tenderly caring for our small vegetable garden – carefully putting in rows of corn, tomatoes, string beans, lettuce, and zucchini. I’ve never forgotten the miracle of creating food from tiny seeds and the taste of freshly picked tomatoes in my mouth. Throughout my adult life, my soul yearned for that communion with the land. And now I finally have a canvas of 10 acres with which to grow food for myself and others. The land nourishes my soul and it allows me to be in touch with my familial roots.
On one of the early days of my arrival in Florida, when I cried and cried so much, one of the hospice workers said to me, ‘of course you’re sad, you’re losing the first man you ever loved.’ And I remembered – the feeling of unconditional love for a parent from a child. For we are always daddy’s little girls.
He gave us the gift of being a father and the gift of his love. Dad made many sacrifices for the betterment of his family – for many, many years, he worked the night shift at Newsday newspapers, having to drive 60 miles each way to get to work. He was often leaving for work when I was coming home from school and asleep in the morning when I got up; but he did everything he could to make sure we had what we needed and he spent as much time with us as he could.
I will always remember with much fondness and much love our summer camping trips with the other deaf families. My dad, with Paul Kaessler, Frank Hand, and Raul Maldonado were the comedians of all the dads and would always put on shows for us kids – his gift of silliness and good humor has definitely been passed on to me and Joy.
Dad was a wonderful grandfather too, and he and my niece Sienna truly shared a special bond. During his last days, I witnessed this love between them. I will always remember Sienna saying good night to dad, signing ‘I love you pappa’ and giggling with happiness.
Dad, through his journey, gave us the ultimate gift – the opportunity to bear witness to the miracle and mystery that is life and death. Through his pain and suffering and his moments of joy and acceptance, he remained humble and full of grace. Although this might be difficult for some to understand, every step of the way unfolded with perfection — I have been touched by God in a deeply profound way. We asked for help and support and the angels were with us always – through friends, through the hospice team, through our oneness with spirit, we were always given what we needed to endure each and every day.
As we move forward in life, I will choose to remember the good moments of dad’s last days – the moments that deepened our bonds as a family, the moments of deep understanding, and the moments of happiness – all which can be represented in one word – Cappucino!
Yes, we love you Pappa and your legacy lives on. And though you are no longer with us in the physical form, you will always be with us in our hearts. And you will always be with us through those around us. My husband Bruce has said many times ‘It’s taken two sons-in-law to equal one Hugo.’ I’m glad that Joy & I both chose husbands who embody the qualities of our father.
And as I close, I ask all of you to carry Hugo, a husband, father, and a friend, onwards in your hearts and to take a moment to remember the gifts that he gave to you.