Eulogy For My Father
By Ethan M. Lewis
January 26, 1999
As you will hear often today, my father was a good, caring, kind man who touched the lives of many people, and left each of them the better for knowing him. My father was also an auto-didact and born entrepreneur, whose many interests continue to influence me in my everyday life, as well as in my career. Most of all he was unfailingly generous to everyone he knew, giving of himself every day of his life.
We often joked that my father was a "gadget freak", and he would love the fact that I wrote this on a fancy PowerBook computer, but really my father was an earnest, early adopter of every new development in communications technology that came down the pike. From C.B. radio, to car phones, e-mail and the World Wide Web, my father embraced any new invention which enabled him to communicate better with family and friends. My father was always concerned about making sure that my mother, sister and I did not worry about him when he was travelling for his job; and when Becca and I moved away, these new tools were alternative methods of reaching us, staying in touch, sending us things we needed, and being available to us at all times.
I always wanted to be just like my father. When I was little, I thought that he was the fastest walker in the world, and I always hurried everywhere to keep up with him. When I was seven, I was finally able to out walk him. What was a childhood triumph turned bittersweet years later when I realized that my apparent speed-up was actually a decrease in my fatherís mobility due to the first of four aorta replacements he would have to suffer. Well, I still walk fast today, and in little ways every day, I realize that I am very much like my father indeed.
Like my father, I have a wonderful wife who I treasure beyond all worldly things; a soul-mate who makes each day a joy, and increases my happiness every time I see her. When I last saw my father, he told me again how lucky he was, and how all he cared about was my mother's happiness. My father loved Courtney like another daughter, and spoke of her always, including in our last conversation, when he told me again how proud he was of her , but also in typical "Daddy" fashion, told me to caution her to drive safely on the treacherous New Hampshire roadways. He loved Courtney from the first, and he enjoyed being able to share a love of photography with her, which naturally led to a gift of cameras and lenses. My father also gave me his video camera and equipment, which was appovingly (and jealously) appraised by a professor of documentary video when I was was in graduate school.
My most valued possession is my father's Rolex wristwatch, which he had owned since leaving the Air Force in the 60's. He always said that he would will it to me, but I never wanted to talk about that, or face up to such thoughts. Aware that I wanted to associate the gift with a happy occasion, my father surprised me with the watch as a college graduation present , and had the back inscribed "AJL 10-15-64" and "EML 5-16-92", representing the day he bought the watch, and the day he gave it to me. In these past days, I have often looked at the engraving and think of it as another way in which my father will always be with me.
I also believe that I owe my current job to my father. I work at a high school as an evangelist for teaching with technology. Many teachers who are my parents age are impressed that I have been using computers since 1982. But it is solely due to the perseverance of my father, who used personal computers long before I did. My father recognized very early that personal computers would change the world, and I remember hearing him argue this position many times. He was a visionary in the days when an Apple II or a Kaypro or a TRS-80 were cutting edge, in the days before the Macintosh or Windows were invented. My father compiled a "Software Sourcebook" in 1983 of every piece of personal computer software available. He was permanently disappointed that the project did not sell well, but I often told him that this was because he was so far ahead of his time. My father once again leapt on the bandwagon before the rest of us.
I am glad that he continued to follow current developments in computing. By the late 80's, I began to get interested in the topic, and he was always offering me magazines, books and personal advice to help solve computer related problems. In the last few years, it has given me great pleasure to be able to share with him my experiences with a wide array of computer and internet equipment, and I know that he was proud that I was helping to teach young people. Just last week he avidly discussed with me my latest adventure in the classroom. Recently, I was happy to be able to show him a section of my website with pictures of our family and was glad to be able to combine many of his loves (photography, computers, and of course, family) in one gift.
The last thing that I want to share with you is my father's constant growth. He was not content to stop learning, nor was he an old dog who would not learn new tricks. My father sent his kids to the most liberal of colleges, and came to truly enjoy the world of co-ed bathrooms, alternative lifestyles and body piercings. He did this because he saw how happy it made us. But this broadening of his mind was not a recent development. My father spent the first 35 years of his life blissfully unaware of sports. But when I grew up as a rabid sports fan and baseball player, my father set out to learn the rules and lore of baseball, again to share experiences with me. In 1980, suffering from clogged arteries and unable to walk easily and never without pain, he became the assistant coach of my youth league baseball team. He came out daily to play catch, and to encourage all of the youngsters on the field. Yesterday I saw the plaque of appreciation he was given "To Mr. Lewis, Thanks, The Dodgers, 1980". Over the years my father helped so many people. I am glad that you are all here today to thank him, and to show him your appreciation. I believe that he is watching us right now, that he knows this, and that he is happy. And that he will continue to watch over us from his new vantage point, and will continue to help all of us for the rest of our lives. Thank you, Daddy, I love you.