Friday, May 31, 2013

Saying goodbye to our Papa Bear

Below is the eulogy I gave last night at my father's funeral.  
Six weeks.
Six weeks represents the short amount of time that we all have had to process the news that my dad, Scott Lofgren, was diagnosed with cancer and ultimately passed away.
Over the last few days, I’ve started to try to process what has happened, and I’m grateful we had those six weeks.  I was able to learn so much about my father in that short span of time and was able to see how he has impacted so many different lives around the world.
My dad was our hero in more way than one. First, stating the obvious, he served his country for 20 years and retired as a Lt. Colonel from the Army.  He was also our family hero, though.  Who else would take care of all the big, disgusting bugs found around our various houses?  Or take care of our car troubles, which let me tell you, my sister and I have had our fair share of car troubles. 
To most people, Scott Lofgren was a hard ass when it came to business, and a kind, gentle soul whenever dealing with something personal.  This was never more apparent to me than when he was hounding me day-in-and-day-out about finding a job post graduation, only to start dancing around our kitchen to “Call Me Maybe” on repeat ten minutes later. Many of you probably did not get to see the goofy side of him, but that’s the way we’ll always remember our Papa Bear.
I’ve heard the expression “You’re married to the Army”, many times over my life.  I’m sure if you were to ask both my mom and dad that they would agree with the statement.  Heck, Dad was a prime example as he wore his West Point ring alongside his wedding ring, much to the displeasure of my mother.  It is true that my dad was married to the Army for 20 years of his life, but he realized his actual marriage and family was more important than his career. 
My dad retired from the Army because of his family.  He was offered a promotion, but knew his family was more important.  During our last assignment at Ft. Hood, it broke his heart when my sister came home on her first day of third grade so excited to tell my parents that she actually knew someone in her class.  He decided it was best if he retired and settle into civilian lifestyle so my sister and I could graduate from the same school. 
But his love went far past that for his lifelong partner, my mother, Arlene.
Anyone who knew my dad would know that he really isn’t one to show too much emotion.  He may not have been the most romantic person to ever walk the face of this earth, but my Dad loved his wife until the day that he died.  It was never more apparent than prior to his surgeries when we had to fight him for his wedding ring, because he couldn’t fathom not being “married” for a few hours.  He died wearing his wedding ring, knowing his wife was right by his side throughout his final battle.  He’ll be buried with his wedding ring, as he would probably haunt us for the rest of our lives if we acted selfishly and wanted to keep it for ourselves. 
In July, my sister and her fianc√© Kevin are going to be married.  We all know that Dad was trying his best to hang on for the wedding so he could walk his baby girl down the aisle.  We were fortunate enough to have a special ceremony that daddy could take part in just prior to his passing.  Jennifer and Kevin, he will be there with you and you better believe that he’ll make sure that there are no cicadas there to ruin your big day.  We’ll all be wearing our bracelets as a physical reminder that he’s not too far away from us.
Before I finish, I think it’s important to express that dad’s last job with Bentley was the first job he’s truly enjoyed since his time in the Army.  He worked with them for the last eight years in the global education department.  He met a great number of people all over the world through his extensive travel and genuinely enjoyed working every day. 
Shortly after I went to Girls State right before my senior year of high school, Dad became very actively involved in the American Legion.  He truly enjoyed participating in local parades honoring the veterans on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day Weekend.
Finally, my family likes to joke that I was the son they never got.  They got both a girl and a boy with me because I am such a big sports fan.  It occurred to me the other day that I’ll never be able to watch or go to a baseball game ever again with my dad.  That was our one father/daughter and I guess you could say, father/son outing every year.  I know that if my Yankees or the Nationals win the World Series that he was pulling some strings with the big man upstairs. 
Since there are so many of Dad’s classmates from West Point here today, I think it’s appropriate to share with you that Dad passed while listening to the West Point marching band.  He truly lived by the motto of “Esprit-de-corps”. 
One of the last things Papa Bear said to me while he was still awake, was  “You and I will stay together.”  I truly do believe we’ll all have the toughest guardian angel looking after us. 

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