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."