There are five qualities, to speak of, that really defined my Dad. The first quality was his love for animals. You may know that he loved dogs and was devoted to our family dog, Buffy, even though he seemed to yell at her a lot. Buffy did have a mind of her own! Dad would befriend dogs out in public every chance he got. He also loved birds and horses, which he was able to enjoy in his final years. His favorite activity at the Veteran’s Home was, no doubt, the horseback riding they offered there.
The second quality was his humor. Dad had a pervasive sense of humor throughout his life as Paula shared. Some examples of his humor from the interviews in 2007: He was asked about school life in Rochester to which he replied, “I lived in a dormitory with a bunch of other schmucks!” When asked if he had an original plan for the size of his family, he said that he wanted a basketball team (5 on a team). I reminded him that he had more than a basketball team, and he responded: “well, more or less; I had a spare.”
The next quality that defined my Dad was his love of nature and being outdoors. I am glad that his service is in the spring. He was definitely an outdoor enthusiast.The short list of his preferred active passions is tennis, skiing, boating, camping, and biking. He also loved to BBQ.
The fourth quality was his love of travel, and Dad did a fair share of it, especially with his kids living in so many places. During the interviews, he gave a thumbs-up for cruises, and particularly the food on the cruises. Did you know he also traveled to Hawaii and Europe? The picture to the left was taken in Heidelberg, Germany in 1996. Two of the most fascinating experiences he ever had was flying over the Aleutian Islands when he was in the Navy, and flying in a helicopter over "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific", Waimea Canyon, on Kauai's West Side with Mom in 1994. It was great that he got to see this beautiful place.
The last quality and the one that defined Dad the most, for lack of a better word, was his sociability. His social nature of connecting so easily with others was true in both his personal and work life. As a child, I remember getting the impression that he was so important and well liked which made me feel important as well.
Dad's social skills never faltered even to his last days. The caretakers at the Veteran's Home in Scarborough, Maine, would often say they loved my Dad. When we would stroll along the halls and grounds, they would stop us to say hi, to whom they called Cap’t Jack, and sometimes gave him a hug. I believe this quality of sociability got passed on to all of the Siulinski kids, and what I suspect is that it will also be highlighted in our services when our time is up.
Closing thoughts: Having moved back to the east coast for a new job last fall, I was able to spend much time visiting my Dad during his last months. Speaking on behalf of my siblings: by being there for him, we were able to give back a little to the Dad who was always there for us. No matter how different we were as kids and as adults, he always wanted us to be happy. During the family history interviews back in 2007, I asked my Dad how he would like to be remembered. His response was: ”just being a nice guy..."
On behalf of your wife, Pauline, your brother Adam, your six children and your six grandchildren, all I have left to say is Adios Amigo Dad. Thank you all for being here.
Postscript: The reason why I closed with the phrase, Adios Amigo, is because these were the words that Jack would often use in his last years when saying goodbye to visitors while he resided at the Veteran's Home.