Augie Zadra's Eulogy - Papas Gloves Magic Is Real (2)

Papa’s Gloves: A Magic Story

This is a story of magic, generously shared by Dan Zadra. May his words and memories be an opening for you to witness the wonder inherent in this beautiful world.

A Fond Farewell

The church was full. More than 600 people had come to pay their respects at my father’s funeral that day.

Our tight-knit Catholic parish had all hoped that this gentle, caring, big-hearted son of Italian immigrants would live forever.  But he had died, now, at age 96, and it was up to me to say the right words. 

I was nervous.  How could I possibly pay adequate tribute to a man who, despite only an eighth-grade education, had exemplified the best parts of the human spirit for nearly a century.

A Legacy Remembered

Many faces in the church were unknown to me that day, but many others were familiar mileposts of my years.

Some were now 60 year old men who were just 10 or 12 when my Dad had coached them in soccer 50 years ago, and now they had come to honor him.

Others were descended from three generations of poor families who remember how my Dad and two friends had quietly and discreetly delivered food, school clothes or other basics to them every Tuesday evening for decades.

Still others would remember what Dad had done for our elderly neighbors on Sunday mornings. The world needs more men who will roll out of bed at 5 am every Sunday morning, year after year, and go out into the parish to check up on the old people. 

I can still hear his gentle voice when I went with him on those visits: “Good morning, Maria (or Dominic or Joe)—I brought you the Sunday paper; how are you doing this morning?  It’s pretty cold, can I build you a fire or make you some coffee?”

A eulogy from the heart

When the time came to deliver Dad’s eulogy that day, I took a deep breath and prayed one last time for strength and composure. On the way up to the front of the church, I whispered to my Dad, “I love You, Papa, please help me say the right things today.”

I love You, Papa, please help me say the right things today.”

Everything went fine for awhile.

As I ran through the litany of my father’s many good deeds, I could see neighbors, family and friends smiling or wiping tears from their eyes.

And then, feeling more confident, I went off script and mentioned a few of Dad’s quirkier habits.

As a child of the depression, he had been ridiculously frugal. Instead of buying a $10 Christmas tree, he would always buy two scraggly 99 cent trees and wire some limbs from one onto the other.

Or, instead of treating himself to a new bicycle, he would combine parts from three broken bikes in our garage into one monstrosity that he proudly pedaled around the neighborhood for years, well into his Eighties.

Or (the strangest quirk of all): For many years my Dad took his dogs for a walk each morning, and he would sometimes come across a stray glove that someone had dropped on the sidewalk. Everyone knew that my frugal Dad couldn’t throw those single gloves away; instead, he kept his growing collection in a big box in the basement.

When people in the congregation laughed that day, I worried that I should have kept those last three stories to myself.

The final gesture

After the service, I left the church and walked down the sidewalk to my car, just to clear my head. 

Would my Dad be proud of his son’s eulogy, or would he be embarrassed by the stories I had told? 

Cheerful little Japanese cherry trees were in bloom along the church parking strip. I looked at one and noticed something unusual waving merrily on the tip of one of the branches.

It was a single black leather men’s glove. Someone had evidently dropped it on their morning walk, and someone else had apparently picked it up and placed it on the end of the branch where it would wave in the breeze and be noticed.

The magic moment

At that very moment, my older sister and her husband and kids drove by and, seeing me staring awestruck at that glove, began honking their horn and yelling out the window: “Papa…Papa!”

Yes, I took that glove home with me, and tucked it safely in a drawer full of my father’s pictures and mementos.

Twenty years later I still take it out once in a blue moon, and it always makes me smile.

Some will say that it was just coincidence for me to find that glove at that particular moment on that particular day.  But, I’ve heard it said that coincidence is actually God’s way of acting anonymously in our lives.

Coincidence is actually God’s way of acting anonymously in our lives.

A Father’s Blessing

Call it coincidence, magic or a minor miracle, but I just know it was my Dad who somehow placed that glove on that limb to wave at me and let me know that his son did an okay job on his eulogy.

Thank you, Papa, your example brings meaning and purpose to my life, and the lives of so many others.

– Dan Zadra

Wasn’t that wonderful!?

I will forever be grateful to Dan for allowing me to share this beautiful story of magic, love, and God/Universe’s gentle reminders with you.

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