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The final tribute to my dad

By April 30, 2009Uncategorized

The service for my dad on Monday was well attended, and there were many wonderful tributes delivered by some of the adults. But, the best tribute was the one composed by my 14-year-old niece, Christina, who lives in Panama. A few months ago her class assignment was to write a short essay on the topic: "What is love"? The following is what she wrote.  It was the final tribute to my father at his funeral service, and was read by her mother Nanette.

"60 years ago, Dr. Ernest Svenson was a wild jazz lover who spent his days charming ladies and smoking cigars. Now, he is an 85-year-old grandfather with Parkinson's disease. He spends his days in his leather chair, staring into the void. He lives in a different world. Sometimes, he doesn't even recognize his own granddaughters. When my grandpa Ernie talks, the flies can barely hear him, and if they do, they can't ever understand. He talks of colonels and Dr. Brown. He is like the old cigars he used to smoke, every second burning out a little more. Even though we can't hear him, and he doesn't know who we are, we love him unconditionally. Every week, we visit him. We bring him his favorite foods — doughnuts, chocolates and sweets. Even if we are strangers to him, at least we are strangers who love him. We love him, and we will even when the cigar is all burned out."

Needless to say, that last line brought everyone in the chapel to tears. I know my father would have been very proud of Christina.  She took a routine class assignment and wrote something that deeply touched many people.  I, for one, give her an A++++++

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  • DMS says:

    Truly touching. I think if the little girl’s grandpa were there, he would have hugged her tight and not let go!

  • Ernie – you have touched so many hearts in writing about your wonderful Dad, his services and your family. Thank you for reminding all of us about the priceless blessing of every moment we share w/loved ones. My wonderful belated father-in-law would always answer this way when asked what he’d like for his birthday, etc….”Time — just time”….as I’ve grown older, I understand his “wish” better and better…how blessed you are w/such wonderful memories w/your Dad and how blessed he was w/such a loving, wonderful family. Thank you again for taking the time to share such a personal time w/all your fortunate readers. All the best,Nancy

  • Mary Whisner says:

    It’s a testimonial not just to your niece and your father but to the whole family, because something good had to be going on for the family to nurture the girl and value the fading old man.My condolences to you on your loss — and best wishes to you for finding comfort in your family and others you love.

  • Sophmom says:

    Gave me chills, darlin’. Somehow I missed that you just lost your father. I’m so sorry for you loss. I lost my last parent, my mother, last fall. I find myself talking to her from time to time and it’s somehow comforting.

  • Gayle O'Connor says:

    Starting the day with tears in my eyes…that was so moving, Ernie. Your father was blessed to have so much love surrounding him and even though he couldn’t express it, one knows that deep down in a place no one could reach, he felt that love, every moment of his life. I wish you peace and serenity as you move through this difficult time. Thank you for sharing your loss.

    “The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.” ~ Hilary Stanton Zunin

  • Tim says:

    Wow. She is a talented writer. I’m impressed.

    It brought chills to me as I thought of my father and the slow cancer that ravaged his body until his death.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  • Ross Kodner says:

    Ernie, I’m very sorry to hear about your Dad – your niece’s tribute was extraordinary. Sympathies to you and your family in this tough time.


  • Enrico S. says:

    So sorry Ernie. Great tribute and wonderful time to reflect. There must be something even better than A+++++….

  • Jim McGee says:

    Just made my day. Thanks so much for sharing this moving tribute.

  • Bob Ambrogi says:

    Wow, what a moving and vivid piece of writing – whether from a 14-year-old or a 40-year-old. She helped us all have a deeper sense of your loss.

  • Winky Glover says:

    That is moving – thanks for sharing that. I wish you and your family well during this time of separating and grief.

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