Emil Lasica: Farewell to a family man
Emil George Lasica died in a hospital on Nov. 30, 1999, just three weeks before we had planned to fly east for the Christmas holidays for Bobby Lasica to meet his grandparents for the first time. JD Lasica delivered the following eulogy at his father’s funeral service on Dec. 4, 1999.
My last conversation with my father took place last weekend. Dad was looking forward to finally meeting his grandson Bobby during our trip back East just three weeks from now. We spoke for only a few minutes, but he took the time to remind me to send a photo of Bobby to his brother and sister, John and Vi.
Dad was always talking about responsibility, and about family. Those were the central touchstones in the household I grew up in — everything else flowed out of responsibility, and family.
Dad taught me about hard work, and he put in about 30 years as a meat-cutter with the A&P because of responsibility to his family.
Dad taught me about fidelity and love — he and Mom were married for 56 years, and family always came before everything else.
Dad taught me about unpretentiousness, and not putting on airs. He had a great sense of humor, and he had no hesitation about telling a bad joke or putting on a bad wig if it would make people smile.
Dad taught me about sharing and selflessness. Whenever there was one last chicken leg or piece of pie at the dinner table, it was automatic that one of his children would get it.
I always marveled at how my father could work with his hands, a skill I didn’t fully appreciate when I was young. He came out to my house in Sacramento when he was 70 years old, and of course he went right to work and wound up caulking the windows and helping paint the front rail.
I have a thousand good memories of my father: Teaching me to ride a bike. Showing me and George how to fish and how to fly a kite. Rowing his kids out to the middle of Greenwood Lake on a canoe — and getting stuck on a log. Buying cotton candy for us on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights. Shooting off Roman candles in our driveway on the Fourth of July. Showing us how to feed deer in the Catskills. Taking me and George to Yankee Stadium. Teaching me that a straight flush beats four of a kind. Doing a great polka dance with Mom in his prime. Singing Polish Christmas carols with the relatives at Babci and Aunt Vi’s house.
He was not a perfect man. He was sometimes given to streaks of intolerance, single-mindedness and, it’s probably fair to say, downright stubbornness.
But none of that mattered to me, because I knew one thing: He had a good heart. He loved his wife and his children. He absolutely adored my wife, Mary, and his voice always turned soft and kind whenever we talked about baby Bobby.
Thanks to you, Dad, Bobby has already got those famous Lasica eyebrows, and he has your skin tone, and he’s got a wonderful grin that reminds me of you, too.
Dad, I’m sorry that Bobby won’t get to know you when he’s growing up, but I suspect he’s already carrying around part of your soul inside him.