BENEDICTION FOR A FRIEND
The following eulogy was delivered on June 15th, 2006 at St. Joseph's Church in Croton Falls, NY by OHM International's John Mullins.
My friend, Peter Gandolfo - and you’ll notice that I use the word ‘Friend’ rather than ‘Colleague’ or ‘Business Associate’ – need not be enlarged in death beyond that which he was in life. To me, no such attempt is necessary …no such enlargement is possible.
Why do I call him ‘Friend?’ A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are. It is said, “Good men must die, but death cannot kill their good names.” Be that true, then my friend Peter’s name will continue to ring for a long time. For he was a man of great sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom and Christian charity.
In a life of hard work, and good fortune, he valued above all the gift of friendship … and his friendship was real and true.
So too his kindness, which at times, seem boundless. Recently, he took a very long trip to attend the wake of my mother … a woman he never knew. Truth be told, it was really unnecessary for him to do it. But he did it anyway. That’s the kind of man my friend Peter was – a man of character and great compassion.
Just as Christ built the Church on a rock named Peter, so to was OHM built on a rock named Peter. Over the years, his unwavering convictions and great optimism guided the company and kept it healthy and growing. With Peter leading OHM, we always somehow knew that OHM’s best days were ahead of us. But now, with Peter’s passing, some very fine days are behind us … and that is worth our tears.
My friend Peter has passed. The numbing secession of sad images of these recent days blurs through my consciousness like some surreal diorama, my enfeebled mind struggles to comprehend the felling of giants. A hopeless task lays before me: To assemble imperfect human words, verb after noun, in an attempt to capture and convey some small fragment, some residue of the totality of this magnificent man’s character. It cannot be done, my intentions irrelevant; my attempt, futile.
My friend Peter was a man possessed of an uncommon nobility of character. By his life’s example, we are shown that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
Our Catholic faith comforts our pain in teaching us that death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp, because the dawn of an eternity in the presence of our lord has come. Yes, for us who are left behind, death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal. And for we that loved him, Peter’s memory will live on long after the forget-me-nots have withered, because Peter forever carved his name on our hearts … not on marble.
And we look to that day when we will see him again, standing straight and true, all weariness gone, clear of mind, smiling that familiar smile of his again. And this sorrow of his parting we partake in this day, gone forever.
I will miss his kindly presence. I believe that the last words I ever heard him speak to me were, “I Love You.” To me, they are a beautiful and fitting ending to our remarkable relationship.
So Peter, my friend, I pray God that he bless you. Thank you for all you have done for me, and for all the immense and genuine kindness you have shown to me and my family over the years. Go now, my friend. Let the prayers we offer here today at this holy sacrifice of the mass, let this, our heartfelt benediction be the wings that lift your soul to the bosom of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.
Go now, and accept Christ’s rich reward that your life of unselfish giving has so justly earned you.