Monday, March 28, 2011

Eulogy

I've been thinking of my dad a lot recently, for a litany of reasons. In that spirit, posted below is the eulogy I gave him.

I would like to begin by thanking everyone for all of the support that they have offered. The amount of love and thoughtfulness from the Police Department, family and friends and everyone that knew my father has been truly overwhelming. It is a true testament to the caliber of man that he was.

Joseph Aloysius Mattingly, Jr. was a man called to duty. He showed his desire for leadership and his acumen for service at an early age. He grew up in a house that was built in the 1930's with seven brothers and sisters.

One cold winter morning after a snow, when the sun was not fully up, there were suspicious noises coming from downstairs. The kids began waking each other up. The boys had decided that someone had broken into the house. Intending to investigate, Joe and Sean, the older of the three brothers, armed themselves with baseball bats. Because there were only two bats, Patrick, the youngest, was assigned a baseball glove. Patrick, disappointed, asked Joe if he would exchange the bat for the glove. Joe set down the bat, and took the glove from Patrick. He swung it viciously, showing the true potency of such a lethal weapon, and said, "Patrick, I need you on the glove." He then handed it back to Patrick, who, suddenly aware of the weight of his charge, marched defiantly to meet the intruders. The intruders, of course, were various pots and pans set out to collect water droplets falling from a leaky roof. Patrick was no less proud to have been given such responsibility in defense of the home.

It was always very clear to us that my dad loved his job. Even after achieving rank, he never forgot what it meant to be a cop. I'm sure there isn't an officer in the county that does not know of my father's penchant for issuing citations. He believed that writing a ticket was one of the best ways to offer guidance on how to avoid destructive behavior.

Over the past few days, so many of his colleagues have shared their experiences involving dad with our family. What has impressed us are the remarks that demonstrate the high level of integrity that he displayed. His one desire was that his actions would always reflect favorably on the department. I know that he would be proud of how the department has taken care of us these past few days.

With what little time he didn't devote to being a police officer, my dad was very unique in the ways that he liked to relax.

Every Saturday morning, my father could be found patrolling the county for a Honus Wagner baseball card or an original GI Joe action figure. The nicest aspect of this is that he took requests. Whether it be a trumpet or a left-handed baseball glove, he was always willing to go out of his way in search of anything. What was bad about this is...well...just ask Mom about the garage.

My father also enjoyed a good drink. Some of the fondest memories I have of my dad were on Wednesday nights, watching Law & Order and nursing a beer. He also had quite a nice assortment of teas, and enjoyed sharing the story behind how he acquired each, as he brewed a small pot. And we always looked forward to the full-bodied, homemade egg nog he prepared during the holiday season.

And "Jumpin" Joe could dance! Even without having a drink, he loved tearing up the dance floor. He was waiting for Disco to make a deserved comeback, so that he could show off his moves again.

But the way that I will remember him is as a loving and giving father. When my sister was having trouble in school after we moved, my parents requested that she be transferred to the school that she would have attended had we still been living in our old home. My father had no qualms with making the half-hour drive every day for all four years of high school, and, I believe, cherished the opportunity to spend any extra time with his children that he could.

The one thing that impressed me the most was his ability to forgive. No matter what any of us had done, or how deeply it had hurt him, he was always ready to offer his love and companionship at a moment's notice.

Many people have asked us the question of what they can do for us. I never really had a response for that. But, as I was lying in bed Monday evening, I came up with the answer. What I would ask of all of you is that you honor the memory of my father by conducting yourselves with the same level of honor and integrity that he so joyfully offered us every single day.

Thank you.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

I remember this, you showed so much strength.

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