I’m Maureen, the oldest of Al and
Together with my brother Simon, I’ll
share some reflections on our father’s life. I
will start by speaking for all eleven of us and
thanking God for his boundless grace and
generosity in giving us the Greatest Dad in All
the World to be our father, and then extending
him the blessing of a very long life to spend
Dad did not expect to reach
the age of 90 ~ he even wondered aloud if he
would see me graduate from high school.
No one in his whole family had ever made
it to 90 until now.
But when he expressed such fears it was
also to encourage us to live every day,
experience every moment to its fullest.
He certainly did.
He understood the “gift of the present
moment” that Father Powers discussed a few
Whenever we professed boredom
as a way of seeking permission to watch TV, a
highly restricted activity in our family, Dad
would respond with, “If you are bored when you
are 10, what will you do when you are 45?
Find something to do!”
If we asked, “what is there to do?”
He would say something like, “I am sure
you can figure that out for yourself.”
In this way, he helped each of us to find
our own paths.
When you are thinking of my Dad, remember
Dad’s journey took him along
From his boyhood he was drawn to the
mountains, especially his beloved Katahdin,
where by listening very, very carefully, he
learned to converse in the languages of animals
As children we knew our Dad was special –
who else’s Dad could talk with birds or answer a
Even as a boy he was a great listener and
that skill became important in his career as a
He was a listener and a thinker.
Dad loved his work and was
devoted to the patients he served and the
colleagues with whom he worked. He developed
His stamina carried him along the career
path for a long time and he only retired at 78
Dad’s final path took him
into the jungle with the ominous name of
One can hardly think in terms of it as a
blessing, but for us it means that our memories
are not from last month or a year ago for the
most part – though we cherish the time spent
with him at Sunrise where he received loving
care – rather we recall our Dad as he was when
we were younger.
We feel his spirit among us during these
His illness seemed to take him away from
us, even though he was physically present.
He was lost.
Now, as his battle with Alzheimer’s is
over and his path has taken him to a better
place, his spirit is whole again.
Hello everyone, I’m Simon – the youngest!
Maury talked about many of Dad’s interests and
I’m going to focus on one of Dad’s passions:
And specifically, I’m going to focus on
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.
As most of the family knows, Dad and I read Moby
We read it aloud to each other.
We used to call this ‘switching
My dad loved this book.
He loved ships, the sea, adventure, and
His link to the past was strong – and he
identified with Melville’s time.
A time of hand-made work and adventure
Dad loved the characters in the book.
Queequeeg, the harpooner.
Tattooed from head to foot.
He slept with his harpoon.
‘Aye, my wife’s me harpoon.’
My dad loved that quote.
My Dad and I had a little joke.
When a sister or sister-in-law was
expecting a child, some would discuss names,
We have some great grandchildren names:
Jules and Hanna, Briannan, Maraied,
Alexander, Keara, Thomas, Michael.
But when discussing names, Dad would
always think for a minute and say: “Have you
To this day, people tell me: “Dashiell is
an interesting name for a boy” and I say: “Yeah.
It was supposed to be Queequeeg!”
Whether you’ve read Moby Dick or not, we all
know Captain Ahab, with is wild stare and his
I’m not sure how my Dad identified with
But I identified with one aspect of Ahab
Whether you lived at 39 Park Way, 567
Main Street or you were a deck hand on the
You knew there was only
one captain. Some
of us challenged this idea, all who did failed.
And Ishmael, the protagonist and narrator.
Ishmael was a man of faith and an
His faith was challenged, maybe more than
anyone in this room.
He saw incredible things.
He stood on top of the mast of the Pequod,
with only the boat and the sea below him.
He chased a whale in a row boat no bigger
than half of one of these church pews.
But Ishmael saw his friends die.
And he wondered why.
I think my dad loved Ishmael.
He identified with both the good stuff
and the hard stuff Ishmael faced.
And the last line of Moby Dick quoted the
I think Dad liked this.
We started Moby Dick when I was 8.
It took us 3 ½ years.
I was never bored.
If you get a chance to read this book, do
My dad inspired me to read it then, now I read
it every few years.
At one point in the book, the Pequod has
launched her whale-hunting boats to chase a
Queequeeg throws his harpoon at the whale
and he hits the mark!
But the whale dives.
Now this is a very tense moment.
The sea is now calm.
The wind is silent.
The harpoon lines pay out.
But with the lines attached, if whale
doesn’t resurface, all the boats will sink.
I read this and I am terrified.
I finish my paragraph and look up to dad…
My dad is like this:
Asleep in his comfortable chair in the
keeping room corner, a copy of Moby Dick open on
Although you’re laughing, understand that dad
just came back from a 14 hour shift.
He probably did half the day at 1 Salem,
then the rest at Melrose-Wakefield hospital.
This didn’t make him miss some ‘paragraph
switching’ with me.
Like Maureen says, he lived life to the
And when you’re done, read 10 pages of
Moby Dick with your son.
That’s how Dad lived life.
Maureen mentioned what a great listener
Imagine the patience he needed to listen
to an 8-year-old boy struggle with Melvillian
My dad loved books.
He loved reading.
He loved what was hand-made and old.
And he loved a good argument too.
Much later in life, after he and I had a
pretty bad argument, he joked with me: “I have
always fancied myself an Ishmael, but I’m pretty
sure you think of me as Captain Ahab.”
I stole that line.
So today we ask for your prayers, but if I may
be so bold, I would also ask you, if you have
the time today, or maybe later this week, try
reading a book out loud with someone you love.
Dad would be happy to know that some people, in
celebrating his life, read a book out loud
Maureen and I thank you for listening to us
And one logistical point: friends and
family are welcome to join us at Centre Farm.
There is parking at the town hall next