Writings :: The Eulogy of Ralph William Crossman

On January 25th, 2006 my dear father died of a heart attack alone in his house. Writing his eulogy and then delivering it at his funeral a couple days later is one of the hardest things I've ever done.


Many times I'd call dad from some foreign country. He'd answer the phone and say "where are you?!"...and I'd say Paris, or London, or somewhere in Germany, or South America or wherever. And then I'd ask him "where are you?!"...and he'd reply "217 Notre Dame" or "sittin' in the living room, watchin' tv". I knew exactly where he was, I didn't even have to ask. It was just a little thing we did. And we sure did it a lot. Sometimes I called him while he was in the middle of his backswing on #17.

He was such a simple man. And he loved so many of the simple things in life. Like sitting in his living room, at 217 Notre Dame Street, watching TV, often the news, or Star Trek, or 24, or some program about space. Not too long ago, I told him about this place I saw on a Caribbean island, part of Venezuela. It was so beautiful. A big, expensive resort, with a golf course, beside a beach. And I told him "Dad, someday, when I have the money, I'm going to take you to that resort, and we're going to play golf there". I thought it would be a pretty good time. He, on the other hand replied "naw, I'd rather stay here and watch TV" or something to that extent. I got a pretty big kick out of that.

It doesn't feel like he's actually gone, you know. Perhaps he's not. He always told me, ALWAYS: "I'll never be dead, as long as you're alive". Nothing like putting a little pressure on me, huh??? Oh Ralphy...

I can't count the times I'd be with dad, and we'd bump into "an old friend" of his. And he'd praise me up to the hilt. And one of the things he said so often during those times was "you should hear him play the guitar!" Well, some of you here may have heard him say that, so tonight I'm going to play a little something that I've been working on since getting the news of his death. He always wanted his friends to hear me play my guitar, so this one is as much for you as it is for him.

He'd be the first one to say how great I could play a guitar, but he'd also be the first one to say I can't sing! Man, he used to tease me about that. He'd probably kick my butt if he knew I sang at his funeral, but there's something he used to sing that meant the world to me, and I'd like to repeat it. "I don't want to set the world...on fi-re. I only want to start...a little flame in your heart" (here's the original song). And how true is that of Mr. Ralph Crossman, huh? He was sooooooo humble. I guess he didn't set the world on fire afterall, but I'm willing to bet that he started an uncountable number of flames in an uncountable number of hearts all throughout the world.

My dad sure was quite the guy. He didn't have a single bad bone is his body. And man did he ever love my sister and I. I could stand up here all day long and list the millions of reasons that made him the most amazing father, dad and friend, ever. But I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to list a few of my favorite moments with him:

We'd go to Fisherman's Warf once a year for our annual scoff. And boy would we eat. We'd be there for at least three hours. Buckets of mussels. Then, we'd spend the entire drive back home talking about how full we were, and how wrong it was to eat that much! This past year, shortly before I left for South America, we went there. I'll never forget it. And I have some great pictures, too. He was debating what size of lobster to order. And I twisted his arm and he gave in and bought the biggest, a pound and three quarters. I didn't have to twist his arm very hard, by the way. So after pigging out on a wack of plates of mussels, on came the lobster. He looked at it, and didn't even need to pick it up. He said to me: "this lobster isn't a pound and three quarters". I looked at him like he was crazy. But I said fine, tell the waitress. But no, he didn't want to cause a fuss. I insisted that he tell the waitress, more so because I wanted to see if he was right! She took it back and weighed it, and sure enough, it was only a pound and a half! I couldn't believe it!!!

Man he used to worry like crazy. And I was no help, that's for sure! I called him once and said, in a frantic voice: "Dad! I'm under thousands of pounds of steel, what should I do?!?!" He didn't know WHAT to say!!! He thought I was in a train wreck! Actually, I was calling him from a payphone at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Golf was a big thing for us. And I always enjoyed seeing the look on his face when I really connected with the ball. I've been able to out drive him for a pretty long time now. And he was always super impressed. But I'll never, ever forget what he'd say. "We'll see what the score is at the end of the hole". And he was always right. I can hit a long ball, but my short game is horrible! The other day at his house I found the scorecard from our last game this past summer. I only bet him on two holes. I remember how proud he was after I pared number five. I had a killer drive, flopped my second shot really bad, and made a great connection on my third to leave me with a six foot putt. I stood there staring at it. Trying to read it. It was a mile long. There I was, the world on my shoulders, my old man, arguably Summerside's greatest putter, there, watching me, waiting. And I drained it. "Right in the jaws!" as he'd say. And he let out a shout. And MAN was he impressed! I only golf a handful of times a year, so it was really something for me to pull off a par, especially on one of the hardest holes in Summerside. I actually went on to par the next hole too! Back-to-back pars to his back-to-back bogies! I don't think I could have had any better of a last game off golf with my old man.

I can't begin to tell you how many things Ralph taught me to do. He taught me to skate, to drive, to golf, to shoot a basketball, to serve a volleyball. But perhaps most importantly, he taught me to live. And as hard as it was for him, he vowed to never, ever hold me back. We had a very big heart-to-heart chat about a week before he died. And he said "son, you have to live your life. You're not being selfish, if anyone tried to hold you back, including me, THAT would be selfish". He was always so unbelievably supportive of me and my life. He backed me on everything. Everything. What a guy.

I have nothing but great memories of him and with him. Whether it was an early morning MacDonald's breakfast, riding around on his golf cart, hanging out in his shop, driving around picking bottles out of the ditches, or eating a big, fat, juicy steak cooked medium rare, served with a heaping mound of mushrooms and onions.

Dad told me once that his favorite smell was a field of clover. Yup, he sure loved that. We'd be driving along with the windows down and he'd say "you smell that?!"

I don't need to stand up here and tell you how great my dad was. I'm pretty sure you all know that. He was always there for me. Always. There wasn't a single time that he wasn't. And don't think I didn't spend a lot of time trying to think of that one single time where he let me down.

I can't think of anything that I would have wanted to tell him before he died. I mean, there are a few travel stories I would have liked to share. But there's not that one pressing thing that I would have wanted to tell him. We were SO close, he knew everything. It would have been nice to hold him once more, kiss him once more, and tell him once more how much I loved him, but I don't think I would have wanted to know that was the last time.

Dad, thanks so much for being you. And thanks for giving me a go at life. I love you will all of my heart, and I always will. You couldn't have been a more amazing father. Thank you so much. See ya!