March 23, 2005

Patrick Cunningham,  Foundation Trustee,  remembers his father in this message sent to his friends and colleagues…
I want to tell you about my Dad.

My Dad was a very good man. A private man, yet a man who loved to be with people. He was never more energized than when he had been at work or out with friends and had some story to tell us about his day. He worked mainly in the trucking industry — a business of tough men and low tolerance for failure or weakness. In his latter years, he drove a limo, showing people the city he loved and helping them safely celebrate their important events. He was a man of many stories (some true, many not, but all entertaining just the same). He suffered many the slings and arrows of life, perhaps many more than he deserved. He was fiercely loyal to his family. My Dad was a man who would never be overly and publicly demonstrative of his love for us, but there was never any question about it — and in his last few years, he would say it. He was proud of my brother and myself and ever the doting grandfather to my girls. (Molly says she will miss him because he could always pick the best watermelons.) He was tough, he demanded that we achieve everything that we could with the gifts we were given, he was fair, and he always wanted the best for my brother and myself. He was a man of quiet faith. As we went through some of his things this evening, we found a folder with a few things that he had put together for just this event. I knew the folder was there, and he had encouraged me some time ago to read it,but I hadn’t wanted to deal with that thought. In the folder was a document that he wants to have read at his funeral. In this document, he wrote,

“The swift passing of time is forever true. Each year I recognize I am not the man I was the year before; my time is coming. Time gets very little of our attention as we race around keeping up with all thatliving requires of us.”

“…I know life is short and I give it my all.”

“I want my Funeral to start with trumpets blowing to welcome my body into church for the beginning of my new life, which I have worked for all my years. My soul will be in heaven and I can watch the celebration and anyone who cries will be pinched by me to wake up to this great event. Sing happy songs and enjoy the services. I want my family to be happy for me, I will be with their mother and we will love them forever. My time on earth is over and I go to my Lord for eternal life.”

Honestly, that blew me away. He goes on to impart these words of
wisdom, which I pass on to you all:

“Life has taught me to take nothing for granted. Expect the unexpected. Remember that the harder you work, the more successful you become. Failures, given time, become successes. Never, never, never give up.”

I leave you with those words, which resound clearly for me as it was the bottom line in all he taught me. When I played football, I was never a starter. He would watch proudly when I got into the game late, recounting for me later the good plays that I made — and telling all of his friends time and time again all about the great hit that I made. When I finished my senior year season, he asked me once if football had taught me anything. I wasn’t sure where he was going, but he told me that if nothing else, “you learned how to take a hit and get back up again, even when that hit hurt your pride and your body; you learned good sportsmanship; and you learned that sticking it out, even when you weren’t a star player, made you a team player.”

If you have a moment today, think of my father and toot a horn for him. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it. Hug your families and tell them you love them. Life is short, our daily activities are loud, and we often don’t hear the swift passing of time.

Pat Cunningham

Friends  of John W. Cunningham are encouraged to contact the Foundation Administrator to add information and a photograph to this record.

Total contributions to the foundation in memory of John W. Cunningham total $75.00.

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