My dad, Richard Albert Cardinal, died on June 23, just about 3 weeks ago. I gave the eulogy at his local service this week. Here are the words I wrote and said about him, since a couple people have asked to read them. We miss you already. Love you. Cindy
My dad leaves behind a wonderful legacy of faith, family, and friendship. He knew the importance of embracing each day, since he first died when I was 15 years old. Now, that might seem crazy since we are here today, but it is true.
He suffered a major heart attack and was clinically dead for more than 10 minutes. During that time he argued with God that he was too young to die, that he still had to support me, Sharon, Dave, Steve, and my mom Barb. And he won that debate with God, which shows what a persuader he was. We were blessed to have him amongst us for 38 additional years.
His Catholic faith remained extremely important in his life. I especially remember him and my mom working on Spring Fever fundraiser at Holy Cross. He performed on stage with his friends, bringing down the house with their song and dance routine.
We moved from New Jersey to Deerfield IL when I was in second grade. During our childhood, my highlight was our annual trips back to the Jersey shore from Illinois. (though we learned early not to help him pack the paneled station wagon). We spent long days hanging out at the beach, went crabbing, and it felt like a huge family party every night. Many of those family members are here today.
After one of his heart surgeries, his friend gave him a book about drawing. I had never seen my dad draw, though he and I often had dueling cameras on trips. Art changed his life. He showed us all that you are NEVER to old to learn. He continued to take classes and paint until just a few months ago.
We were so lucky to have my parents spend the last 10 summers with us in Hawthorn Woods. My parents became surrogate grandparents to my kids’ friends, and friends with our friends. The last couple years they came in right on July 3rd, and the first time we would see them was with all our friends at the local fireworks show.
My dad spent many days here giving art classes to my children Tara, Devon and Ronan and their friends. He would create a lesson plan that Tara would diligently follow, Devon (at 3 years younger) would try to imitate Tara’s work and become very frustrated, and Ronan would just want to draw pictures of animals or spaceships. And my dad would oblige them all. His motto to them was always “paint what you see.”
During their time with us he and Bob would grill together—or Bob would grill while my dad sat and drank wine, he and I spent many hours in my garden, they golfed, we had raucous family games nights, and day trips to Chicago.
Our kids often said that Bobbi and Papa had a busier social life than they did. This just might be true, as my dad has retained friendships from his childhood in NJ, our Lake Eleanor days, and more recently from the Fountain Hills Art League and Men’s Club in Arizona. People were drawn to him because of his sense of humor, that twinkle in his eye. And once you met him, he could be a friend for life.
My siblings and I are spread from here to Arizona to California. We cherish our time together, since we see each other infrequently. There is always laughter and debates whether we are in Puerto Vallarta yelling “watch out for mangos”, exploring Phoenix or the Grand Canyon, realizing that hike down Snowbird was 3 times the length we thought, California, Chicago and Abba dancing Christmas’, Colorado, and several extended family reunions.
I learned how to live by watching my dad and mom. My dad infused in me the love I have for my family, the importance of my friendships in times of laughter and heartache, how to overcome health issues, creativity, standing up for my beliefs and for others, to give back. Most importantly, that life can be short. That we need to live each day to its fullest and never stop trying new things.
We will miss my dad greatly, but we know that he was at peace when he passed away.