Eulogy for Joseph L. Douglas Sr. My Grandfather
If I were to stand here and tell all of you the wonderful things about Joseph Douglas, we would be here until tomorrow. Maybe even the next day. It is not easy to sum up a great man like him in just a few words. But I’ll try.
Back when I was in high school my grandfather told me a story. He was talking about his trip to Ireland and about the Douglas family history. While he was telling me this story he casually mentioned that the Douglas’s left Scotland once upon a time and moved to Ireland.
“Why did they move?” I asked him.
Without missing a beat he told me, “The Douglas’s were kicked out of Scotland for being Horse thieves.”
He paused for a moment before he offered me a smile. Joseph Douglas had an amazing sense of humor. Revisiting this memory now I cannot tell you for sure if he was telling the truth, or having some fun with me. At the very least if I ever go back to Scotland my grandfather will have me looking over my shoulder for anyone still bearing a grudge. That is how powerful his stories were. They stayed with you.
Joseph Douglas lived an amazing and full life. He was the type of man that did not tell you how you should live, and instead led by example. There are not enough people like him in the world. Where others talked the talk, he walked the walk. He was kind, compassionate, funny, patient, and full of the kind of goodness many aspire to and never quite reach. He was extremely hardworking and even up to a few years ago was still cutting his own grass, and making chairs and lanterns in his workshop in his basement.
He was a humble man, but always a man possessed of strong character. I think most people in the world today wear different faces for different people. Not Joseph Douglas. He knew who he was and never strayed from that. He is without a doubt the most genuine person I have ever met.
During his life he had many roles: son, soldier, friend, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. I believe the thing he was most proud about in his life was his family, who I can gaze out into a sea of faces and see right here. He loved all of you so very much. You want to talk about love stories? There might be no greater example of love than that between my grandfather and grandmother. Joseph and Margaret Douglas had between them a love story most only dream about. They were married 64 years, and were every bit as in love last week as they were when they first became man and wife. That love grew their children Marguerite, Joe, Mary, and Mark. That love extends to all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. And I, for one, am eternally grateful of it.
He was a very religious man. When life became difficult you never found Joseph Douglas complaining about it. Instead he prayed. He prayed the Rosary four times a day, which is two times more in a day than I think I’ve done my whole life. Whenever I came to St. Athanasius with my kids, which I am sorry to say does not seem like nearly enough times now; he smiled immediately on seeing us. Sharing his faith was important to him, but he never preached his position, like everything else in his life he lived it. I think he would have offered one of those trademarked smiles of his to each and every one of us today for coming here to worship and to celebrate his memory. I have no doubt he wasted absolutely no time among the angels in starting to pray for each and every one of us because that was the kind of man he was.
He had one of the greatest smiles. He never just smiled with his face; he smiled with his whole body and his whole soul. Every smile he gave the world revealed a man grateful for every happy moment that came into his daily life. To share a moment like that with him was an honor. Joseph appreciated all of the blessings in his life.
The last time I saw him in the hospital I got up to leave and I got close to him to say goodbye. He looked up at me and took my hand and said, “Thank you for coming buddy.” And then he smiled. I will never, ever forget his smiles, and I will miss them.
Joseph Douglas passed away last Wednesday March 2, which also happened to be Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Proving the Lord works in mysterious way I found a Dr. Seuss quote that made me think of my grandfather. It goes: Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
With apologies to the good Doctor, I would like to alter it to honor a man I am proud to have had as my grandfather.
Don’t cry because he’s gone. Smile because he happened.