Note: Richard Lawrence Bianchi, my father, passed from the living on June 26, 2019 at the age of 71. He leaves behind a family triumphant in its grief. He will be missed. These are my notes for his Eulogy, delivered graveside June 29, 2019.
Thank you all for attending. I would like to take this time to remember my father, Richard Lawrence Bianchi. If I can keep it together, I promise we’ll be out of here in no more than a few minutes. In a completely unrelated note, dinner has been moved to 7 pm.
My Aunt Mary Jane and Uncle Walter, with us in spirit, summed up my father’s life as devotion. It’s true. He was the incarnation of devotion, and that devotion led him to forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, and the application of Wheat Germ to every dish ever conceived by man or lizard person. He loved his God, his Church, his Family, and his Work deeply, conscientiously, and with the strength of the tides. He was as dependable as daybreak, as kind as a warm hug, and the quiet manner he communicated his disapproval inspired us to be better, not caused us to resent that we couldn’t meet his expectations.
When I was a child, I asked a childish question with the stupid curiosity of the innocently ignorant. “Did you kill anyone in Vietnam?” I asked. Without skipping a beat or changing his tone, he leaned forward and said to me, “Gosh I hope not.” My father went to war, and came home committed to peace. I wish we were all as wise.
My father was a tradesman, and taking that knowledge taught himself to use computers, to design the tools that he once built. For years he would scoop up babies both because he loved babies, but also to check to see if he made the snaps on their clothes. He considered 12 hours to be a half day and 5 am a late start. Unfortunately, I did not inherit this trait.
My father was not without faults. He did not like conflict, and avoided it when he could. He had terrible taste in beer. Once while walking into a bargain chain grocery store in Cornelia, he stopped me in the middle of the parking lot, pointed to a low-flying Cessna, on it’s landing approach to the regional airport and said, “Tom! Tom! Did you see that plane go BUY LO?!” Unfortunately, my friends have inherited this trait.
My father’s faith was a bedrock to his life, and as he aged, it came to define it. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and active in his church for as long as he was able. I know my own choices didn’t always sit well with him, but he always supported my right to MAKE those choices, to decide for myself the life I wished to lead. When going through his effects, I found his computer, I discovered the prayers he had written for me. He never stopped, and I have no doubt he still is.
My father stopped being Dad in 2001, when a tiny colicky baby came into our lives. He would walk for hours with this little vomit-machine draped over his forearm, the only way some days she managed to eat anything at all. Dad had become Poppie. While my dad often accepted and embraced the changes of age, he was like the mountain in the storm when it came to accepting parenthood had ended. No, he said, and in so saying I gained a sister and a niece. He was like that. He would bend and bend and bend and but it was the bending of the bow. All the power we would throw at him would be returned, but this time at the tip of an arrow of truth, an arrow that wouldn’t wound but transformed.
He is the best man I know. He has joined the line of my ancestors, the layers of causality that resulted in me, my sisters, and all of us here. We were made better for his living, and are rendered poorer for his passing. To the extent that I may be considered good, it is due to him. In the ways that I fail, it is because I have not lived up to his example. I will miss him. We all will.
As we prepare to say our final goodbye, I beg of you one more story about my dad. Three days ago my father died just a few miles from this spot. At that moment, I was several hundred miles and several states away on my yearly wandering to the home of my people. When I got the call I was standing in the gift shop of a whiskey brand of which I happen to be fond. As I told my Mother I loved her and sat back to contemplate this terrible new universe I had been so tragically forced into; bereft of the guiding light of the best man I ever knew, I couldn’t help but notice that Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, my father’s favorite song by my father’s favorite artist, had begun to play. I knew then that everything was going to be ok. This isn’t goodbye. For the dead never die, so long as we the living remember them. No, this was my father saying to me the same thing I say now to him, and to all of my family, the dead and the living; blood and chosen: ”Not yet, but soon.”