A Rare Dad by James Jaeger
He was a Westerner, who came East. He was a biologist, more interested in blood flow than in cash flow. He was quiet man, because he was busy listening to you. But most important, he was a loyal husband, a loving grandfather and Dad, my Dad. Lorraine's Dad. Bunker's Dad.
It's really difficult to reduce a Life to mere words. But if I were to try, the following come to mind: CONSTANT, TOLERANT, FAITHFUL, CURIOUS, JOKESTER.
Throughout my childhood and earlier years, as I watched my friend's dads transferred all over the country, I knew MY Dad would never buy into the myth that "the grass is greener on the other side." As I watched families fall apart through divorce and infidelity, I always knew my Dad would never let that happen to HIS family. As I watched my friends, and later associates, get into drugs, alcohol and excess, I knew exactly how Dad felt about these traps. And, as I watched the world go deeper into debt and insecurity, I always knew my Dad would set an example for a more prudent direction. But besides being wise to the ways of the world, Dad was a philosopher. He looked beyond mere physical reality. He inspired me to do the same. He questioned the simplest assumptions and invited those around him to look at problems in new ways.
Dad helped people fix their minds. He was one of the early psychiatrists. He pioneered a new field in the face of much criticism, even mine and his own father's at times. He believed it was better to TALK it out rather than drug or cut it out -- and as such, he listened to thousands of people TALK about their problems, and by doing so, gave thousands relief, hope and higher self-esteem.
He was a man of science and technology, yet he held traditional values. He loved his nation and revered the advice of OUR Founders. He made me aware of the flaws in the current banking system, but he also pointed out the perfection of the American Experiment. He did these things always with a calm guidance. Again, he was a quiet man without judgment yet one often got the feeling he was the wisest man in the room. He brought home the philosophy that: He who knows does not speak, for he who speaks does not know.
Dad loved dogs. But some say he had a problem with cats. Nevertheless, he tolerated 7 cats over the course of our early years. And he had a sense of humor about it: he named one of the white cats, Hasenpfeffer, meaning "rabbit stew" in English.
As far as a husband, Dad was about the finest catch a girl could want. He was not only extremely handsome, but he recited poetry and could explain why Deoxynucleic Acid is important. Dad was the only man that could possibly handle a woman like my Mom. He balanced her crazy energy and complimented her starr beauty. For over 60 years he made her complete, in every way. He was her travel companion -- not only around the country and back to the West on several occasions -- but her companion on endless adventures to Antique Shows, Flea Markets and up and down the Main Line social scene. Regarding that last: Dad taught my Mom MUCH about what it meant to "dress IMproperly for every occasion."
Dad not only loved and cherished his wife, but loved and cherished his 3 children, 5 grandchildren (and probably at least 6 dogs). He would come to visit us on unexpected occasions -- whether it was to check on his tomato garden at Bunker's place -- toss around some jokes at Lorraine's -- or drop by the office to see if there was any chance he could cure me of my camera-addictions. Yes, Dad was no friend of the camera -- or Hollywood for that matter -- and it's probably true: he wished I had become a doctor. But what this shows, without question, is Dad's desire to serve his fellows was much stronger than his desire to serve his ego. Dad was a humanitarian -- and his colleagues knew it, for they would make house-calls on him in his last years, as if to say, "we remember all you have done for others."
So here we are at the close of this life-altering week with perhaps a final question: Should we be sad, or should we be HAPPY for Dad? Should we be SAD he has left this tiny world? YES, of course -- and we will all continue to grieve at the transcendent loss.
But should we also be happy? Again, yes -- we should be happy for him. For now Dad gets to embark on the ultimate journey, the journey to reunite with HIS Dad, with his mother and most importantly -- with his Maker who will most emphatically be happy to reunite with one of HIS finest Creations -- a Being we all knew as EUGENE ADAM JAEGER, a loving father and grandfather, our Mom's precious soul mate, your thoughtful friend -- and now, a treasured citizen of our Lord's immortal Kingdom.
Eulogy given by James Jaeger on November 1, 2008 at St. David's Episcopal Church for his father, Eugene Adam Jaeger, June 17, 1924 - October 25, 2008.
Originated: 25 October 2008
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