What can happen in a month…..Thanks

Over the last month I have had so many friends and colleagues from all over send me and my family their deepest sympathies for the loss of my Dad.  I posted the obituary back in January and the amazing thing was the number of comments.  Thank you. 

Over the years of my real estate and coaching career I have have given a lot of speeches and talks but never a eulogy, especially for such a beloved man, husband, father and heck of a friend.  this was by far the hardest one yet but I wanted to thank everyone for the kind words and support before during and after. I gathered a lot of comments, thoughts and inspirations over the time preceding the service but I had no idea where to begin. I personally want to thank Laura Lafayette for bringing those comments to life. 

Some folks have asked that I send them what I read and for others that knew my Dad and were unable to attend the service I wanted to share this eulogy. 

Dr. Wasfi A. Atiyeh eulogy Jan 9th 2012

First and foremost, my mother, my sisters, and I—all of the Atiyeh family–would like to thank each of you for being with us today to celebrate the life of our father.  We are deeply grateful for all of the expressions of kindness and concern, in both word and deed.  While these last few days have been the most challenging of our lives, we are deeply comforted by the knowledge that we have so many friends who loved our Dad and who care so much about us.

In preparing these remarks, I gathered my memories and those of my family.  And if I had to summarize our reflections in one word, that word would be “proud.”  Our dad was proud of us; and I am today, and forever will be, proud to be his son and bear his name.

Ask anyone who was his patient, played a round of golf with him, or—at their own peril—engaged in political debate with my dad:  he knew his stuff.  He achieved the goal of all golfers—a hole in one; he was lights out when playing Gin Rummy; his herb garden was among the best; and he used those herbs to make marvelous dishes in the kitchen.  (eggs with mint and lemon, or feta cheese but the best was his grilled tenderloin and Cesar salad.

He demanded perfection of himself; but not of us, he was far too understanding for that.

What he desired of us was that we pursue excellence.  Because he knew that if we strove for excellence, we would achieve great things.  And whatever the accomplishments of his wife, his children, his grandchildren, there was no greater cheerleader, no greater supporter than our dad. 

Throughout my mom’s illustrious career in real estate, my dad was always there.  In retirement, he never missed a grandchild’s sporting event; Carter, Thomas, Anne, Drew—they could always count on coming up out of the pool and seeing my dad smiling proudly.

As children we loved spending time with our dad, especially when he cooked.  He loved Lebanese food and he loved cooking big breakfasts.

And over those breakfasts and many, many dinners, my dad loved to talk about his passions–sports, politics, religion, and the right way to care for patients.  My sister, Benita, who is a Periodontist , says she learned an enormous amount about patient care, just listening to our dad.

Of course, my love of sports I credit to my dad.  He never owned a math book, but he could remember every hole in golf. And he would have appreciated Denver’s upset win over Pittsburg last night.    

When it came to politics, on occasion he might have been wrong, but he was never, ever in doubt. A friend of mine, whose politics are similar to my mother’s and thus different from my father’s told me:  “I loved debating politics with your dad.  He was smart, he was incredibly quick, and he stood his ground.  He always smiled; and after every conversation with him, I wore a smile as well.  You couldn’t help but feel good around Dr. Atiyeh.” 

I could go on and on about our father, but I think a memory of my nephew sums up my dad best:  when Thomas once asked my father about his time in the Arab Legion, my dad told him he was a doctor in the force.  Thomas asked dad if he had ever wanted to fight, to which my father responded: “Why would I want to shoot people when I could save them?”

That’s my dad to a tee—practical, matter-of-fact, and above all, compassionate.  The famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said:  “The person you are is the person your children become. Show love and compassion, self-control and discipline:  seek knowledge and demonstrate good values.”

Thank you, Dad.  As long as we draw breath, we will seek to live up to the example you so selflessly gave us.

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