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Eulogy of Bill Malecki by Keith S. Kalemba

In sitting down to write my thoughts about Grandpa and find words of comfort I came upon these words inspired from Psalm 90 by Sister Bernadette Farrell:

Restless is the heart until it comes to rest in you.
All the earth shall remember and return to our God.
Lord, you have been our refuge through all time,
from one generation to the next;
before the mountains were born, or the earth brought forth,
you are God, without beginning or end.
To your eyes a thousand years are like a day,
no more than a watch in the night.
You sweep us away like a dream,
like the grass that springs green in the morning, but faded by night.
Make us know our life’s shortness
that we may gain true wisdom of heart.
In the morning, fill us with your love.

Grandpa more than anything was a teacher-he taught me how to swim and how to play golf. He joked that if he and I had to make a living playing golf we would both be in the poor house. He taught me about gardening. I have hazy memories of the backyard garden in Verona.
I returned all the lessons by teaching him how to play some of his favorite songs on his little Casio keyboard he bought. He would play the melodies to the standards-Jealousy, Begin the Beguine, Ebb Tide, and his favorite Spanish Eyes. Sometimes I played and he sang-I distinctly remember him attempting to sing Ebb Tide-which starts low and climaxes higher in the voice. Usually his voice couldn't hit the high notes, and when his voice would crack he'd shift back down the octave. 

I was blessed to spend several summers with my grandparents. Even though he was retired, his propensity for activity and the obligation of entertaining his grandson, kept us busy. The question we would ask every morning after breakfast was what the day's activity was going to be. Eventually it became a humorous mantra- "What are we going to do today? Go to the beach? Go to the pool? Go to the Library?" 
We snorkled in the Keys, we drove down to Miami to the seaquarium, we drove up to Cape Canaveral for the day. Driving down A1A was a habit Grandpa had-he wanted to go the scenic way and see the 'natural beauty'. 
As a child of the depression he kept his resourcefullness and thriftiness well into his retirement years. This even extended to looking for a place to swim. Once or twice in the Keys, we would be looking for a place to swim and we would end up at a hotel or resort that we were obviously not guests. It wouldn't matter anyway, we managed to sneak in-with Grandpa assuaging my fears with "just tell them we're staying with some friends."

Even when I got to college my buddies and I would hang with Grandpa. After Grandma died, we even stayed at the house with him-playing cards, making dinner and going to the beach. He always welcomed my friends. He had a habit of referring to my best bud as "my boyfriend"-even after I was married! And in the years following our visits, my friends would ask how Grandpa was doing. 
Many of my video phone calls with mom would include a chat with Grandpa. He'd always ask about my kids-curious as to if my eldest was still playing sports or how my daughter doing in school. He would love to see the video of the snow in Chicago or the native flowers blooming in my front yard. 

His eldest Barbara, described him as having a lust for life. To quote her: "My dad was on the ship of life and did not want to get off. Dad loves his kids very much-family was the most important thing in his life."

In this time of sadness, I'd like to quote Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton-
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” 

A priest friend of mine says "70 is the sum of one's life, 80 if one is strong. That's a remarkable life at 101." Grandpa's best lesson was in living his life in full engagement with those around him. He didn't need to travel to far off lands, do exotic things to have a fulfilling life. He did it with how he engaged with everyone everyone. He was fully present with you-not only friendly, but wanting to know how YOU were, what was happening in YOUR life. This is the lesson of grandpa's long life for us. We need to live our life to its fullest, no matter what our age. Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu once said "time is a central thing. To say "I don't have time" is like saying "I don't want to...". All of us are never too old to live our lives with full engagment and authenticity.

I'd like to end another quote from Merton-
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone we find it with another.” 

Owner of originalKeith S. Kalemba
Linked toEdwin MALECKI

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