I’m not going to lie. It was a tough week. Getting through the first year mark, experiencing his favorite holiday without him and having my daughter here for a week then leave…a tough, tough week. BUT, one I did get through. Today is the last of the year mark. A year ago today was the day of Peter’s memorial service. And so, I am putting up Peter’s eulogy from last year. No picture attached to this blog. None seemed fitting. It was a difficult eulogy to write and to give and yet, like everything else this year, I did it. I did the best I could to summarize Peter and his life, a life he spent the majority of with me, a union only broken by death. Wow! Such a blessing! Well, here you go…
Thank you all for being here to celebrate Peter. All the out pour of phone calls, visits, texts, food – oh my word, the food – and posts on Social media, reinforced what I already knew. My Mister was a light in this world, a light accidentally blown out too soon and darkened our world.
This past week, there were so many words used repeatedly to define Peter— gentle, kind, humble, funny, dedicated, patient, loving and of course, intelligent. He has been described as a man his nephews aspired to be, a man who stood out among the greatest, a man who could talk equally about electromagnetism and the Ramones. He was to many the best of friend, the utmost of neighbors, and the most charitable of persons. I was told Peter was unassuming, likable, lovable and a quiet man with warm smiles that reached his eyes.
Peter loved his five siblings, his many nieces and nephews and the abundance of great nieces and nephews. He spoke often of his sister, Bonnie taking care of him while his parents work and the trip to Colorado with his sister Sally and brother in law, Bill. He spoke with pride about the all knowledge his brother Dan handed down to him about cars. He worried about his brother, Tom’s recent health battle. And of course, there was Peter’s never wavering adoration of, or commitment to his twin sister, Trisha.
It says a lot about a person when he holds onto their lifetime friends, and Peter’s tight grip on his best ones, Larry, Leo and Troy, spoke volumes. They were his constants for the past 35 to 45 years. They loved him and he loved them like brothers.
Peter made his mark on the community and this world. He was an active and dedicate member of the Kiwanis Club, the local education district’s Citizen Advisory Committee and the local Arts Council. He helped cleaned up parks, assisted in prairie burns and volunteered at events for the Park District. He supported the local high school’s marching band in numerous ways, even years after our daughter graduated. He was a teacher and active promoter for Sail Chicago. He volunteered to record data for the Forest Preserve’s blue bird population, even making blue boxes when some were destroyed by storms. And, because he was Peter, he placed dollar bills on his car’s visor to hand out to the distraught he saw on the street, something I didn’t know about for years because of Peter’s humility. Peter’s list of selfless acts could go on and on, but these are just some snapshots of a man with an impressive highlight reel.
My son has already given a beautiful testimony to Peter’s strength as a father. Not more I can add except to say without Peter as my co-parent, our children would not be the gold that shines so strong today. As far as my own thoughts of Peter, the best way I can describe our 28-year marriage and 31-year relation is he was the Yin to my Yang.
A few days before he died, Peter and I had one of those stupid fights husbands and wives often have, one of those you-didn’t-tell-me-you-didn’t-listen fights. We held our grounds for about a day, rehashing of our own insistence again and again. When we finally sat down to make peace, each of us still wouldn’t let go of our stance. Finally, Peter said to me, “you know Betsy, I am precise, and my livelihood is based on accuracy. You are this creative person who write stories with characters, so you have all these voices in your head. Sometimes, you think you say things, but really, you’re saying it in your head, not aloud.”
I don’t know if the anything was really resolved, but I do know I was over the moon happy he thought I was creative…ignoring the fact he also thought I heard voices in my head.
This argument was a perfect example of us and of the yin/yang in our 28-years marriage, our 31-year relationship. Peter kept me grounded when I needed it, while I brought him into the clouds when he deserved it. My anxiety-ridden-self ruminated on the “what-ifs” and Peter’s calm demeanor countered with “what if nots”.
Peter was my organized, precise, holding close his emotions husband. I was his now-where-did-I-put it, scattered, heart-on-my-sleeve wife. He put things in files, I stuffed things in drawers. His conversations stayed on track, mine jumped the rails. He was the tranquility in my life, and I was the frenzy that made him laugh. It worked for us. It worked well for us. We gave to each other what was missing in us, and that’s how we became whole.
Peter lived his first eighteen years in a small town surrounded by cornfields, with a then population of 18,000. For his last twenty-four, he lived in a small town, surrounded by suburbs with a population of 14,000. He began and ended his life in small towns where his heart was planted. It seems only fitting, his life went full circle. A circle he lived in without fear, without regrets, without hesitation and with so much greatness.
I will miss the man who I chose and who chose me to live the rest of our lives together while creating two, beautiful children. Good-bye Peter, my very best friend, my yin, my lover and my mister.
Then I played John Mellencamp’s Small Town. Thank you for letting me share, today, on the last of my one-year marks.