How do you completely capture 71 years of someone’s life in a Eulogy? When I think of my dad and want to encapsulate his life in one word; then “humble” comes to mind.
On 6 April 2019, my dad passed away. His death was sudden and it caught us off guard. And I know that death is part of life – it is guaranteed and unavoidable; yet for those left behind it is something that you remain physically and mentally unprepared for.
Writing his eulogy was heart wrenching as I couldn’t get myself to refer to him in the past tense. And as much as it was an honour and privilege to deliver his eulogy; it was at the same time extremely difficult for me to utter those words.
I was approached by many to share what I said at my dad’s funeral in a blog post. Apprehensive at first to write it down as this was something that was private and only shared with friends and family. But then it hit me – that my dad’s life was a gift to us. He was an amazing husband, father and grandfather and that his life story should be celebrated and shared with others.
I am still going through the grieving process and some days are easier than others. I have my moments when I just let out. It is a process that will take time and everyone handles it differently. You will never truly understand grief until you lose someone very close to you. However, typing this post brought a sense of calm over me.
Herewith I’m sharing this eulogy with you in remembrance of my dad. For privacy reasons, I have omitted the personal information from this version.
Who was Samuel Jacobus Cupido?
A humble man who never thought of himself as being greater than anyone. He never like the limelight but yet he had so much influence. An ordinary person with extraordinary abilities. A big man, with big hands that was never idle. Always ready to plough on and get the job done. Left-handed with the neatest handwriting. According to research; left-handed people are right-brain dominant. This is the center of their creativity and intuition. Lefties can deal with challenges, they look at a problem from every angle and will come up with several solutions. They process information quicker than right-handed people. They make known when they are unhappy about something and they are very independent. Looking at how my dad approached life and its challenges; these facts are spot-on.
The hard worker
Although my dad had no formal high school qualification, degrees or accolades; he was witty and sharp. The knowledge he gained came from books as he was an avid reader. Well-informed about almost everything. His skills were self-taught. And when I once inquired how he knew so much about cars and big engines – he replied in a modest way – “I use to steal with the eye when I was younger”.
Yet with no formal qualifications; my dad was a master in his trade. He was the go-to person if you had trouble with your car. His job was stressful, labour intensive and required him to work long hours as he often had to attend to emergency breakdowns. Sometimes forcing him to leave home in the middle of the night. As a diesel mechanic, he played a vital role in maintaining the engines of big trucks, bulldozers and cranes. As every day lost due to a broken bulldozer, truck or crane would cost the company millions.
His boss knew his worth as my dad was reliable and had an exceptional work ethic. His motto was that you give your best at all times to deliver quality work. Never do anything half measured or take short cuts. And those who worked with him knew this as they would often come under fire for slipping up.
The people’s person
My dad was a people’s person. His love and passion for people made him well-known and liked. In turn, he knew a lot of people too; which is evident in the huge friend circle he had. He cherished these friendships and was loyal. Often when we were out and he met someone he knew; I would ask: “Dad who is that now again” and he would answer “it is your family” or he would joke and say “it’s my girlfriend”. Let me just confess and say I had no idea I had so much family and everyone was my dad’s girlfriend.
My dad loved to socialise. The door of the house was always open to welcome family, friends and neighbours. He loved family get-togethers, braais, weekend breakaways and domino evenings. There was always people at the house. My dad took a strong interest in those around him or who he met. He had no preferences and treated everyone the same whether you were a doctor, professor or a beggar who came knocking on the door.
The generous person
My dad had a generous spirit who gave selflessly to his family, friends and strangers without expecting something in return. He did not think twice to put his hand in his pocket and share his last with someone. After making pots of soup, he and my mom would drive to informal settlements to feed the less fortunate. Always rendering an act of service to someone who needed help. Sharing his knowledge and expertise to those who needed advice. He taught many of us the skill of driving – which is something we will forever be grateful for.
In his lifetime my father committed three heroic acts. In 1970 he saved a ten month old baby boy who was crawling in a dark street in Phillipi. Not sure who the baby’s parents were; he took him to the nearest police station. In the early 80’s he pulled a man out of his burning car and smothered the flames with his brand new jacket. The third heroic act was when he saved his colleague after the digger he drove almost plummeted into the sea. He risked his own life whilst performing these acts of bravery and never sought any reward for it.
The quiet person
My dad wasn’t a man of many words but when he spoke, we all listened. A man of action and sometimes spoken words would not be necessary. He had integrity and was respectful towards his elders, friends and family. His word was his bond and he was never deceitful. Those who knew him; knew these character traits about him.
The neat person
My dad was an exceptional neat person – on himself and his property. He was meticulous about his appearances and practicing good hygiene. Resulting in him taking 20 – 30 minute showers daily. And when Cape Town started to experience a water crisis; he had to cut it down to 2 minutes. But I doubt he adhered to the 2 minute rule. He groomed himself. As a diesel mechanic; I’ve never seen my dad with dirty finger nails. As children we gave my dad manicures and pedicures. This was our special time with my dad. Every day he wore a clean work overall. Cleaning those dirty overalls was not a job that my mom liked. Later, it became our (children) job to see that the work overalls were clean.
My dad was blessed with green fingers and the beauty of his garden was and still is admired by many. He would spend hours planting, trimming and watering.
The humorous person
My dad was funny – sometimes his humour came at the most inappropriate times. But he had a way to make you see that life should not be taken too seriously.
The person with so much patience
My dad had a lot of patience and if you lived with someone like my mom – you sure needed lots of it. She was the talker and he the doer. But yet they were compatible and complimented each other so well. He loved my mother with all his being and did everything for her. He made sure that she was happy and lacked nothing.
The overprotective father
My dad wasn’t much of a disciplinarian. When it came to disciplining us; it was a job that my mom took up with pride. But in saying that, my dad was firm. Particularly in our teenage and adolescent years. We had strict curfews and if he wasn’t impressed with our friends; especially the male friends – he made no secret of it. He would do background checks on them and be one step ahead of us. Hence him being given the name of “Sherrif” by my sister. He loved us and this was his way of protecting us. Although we didn’t see it like that at the time; he always told us you would never understand until you have your own children one day.
The proud father and grandfather
As a father and grandfather, my dad was extremely proud of us as well as our successes and achievements. His grandchildren meant the world to him. His love and support was evident until the last days of his life.
The imperfect person
With all that has been said; my father was not a saint. In his younger days, he was a force to be reckoned with. He was not perfect, he had flaws and made many mistakes in his life. But who are we to judge as we are not perfect ourselves.
A changed person
I had the privilege to witness a profound change in my father over the years. The first change came when he was forced to go on early retirement after the company he worked for was liquidated. However this job loss did not make him complaisant and he became self-reliant to ensure financial income. The second change came when he became a grandfather for the first time and had the privilege to raise him up until the age of 3.
During these years my dad’s spiritual journey became stronger. He loved the word of God and would sit for house and listen to Radio Tygerberg, Radio Sonder Grense and the Redemption Channel. At my dad’s memorial service the sermon theme centred on “Come to your senses”. Indeed my dad came to his senses years ago. He recommitted himself and found his true identity in Christ. He did not place his hope in people but in God.
Despite being diagnosed with a heart condition and diabetes; my dad never complained about his health. He never wanted to burden others with his problems. He didn’t believe in self-pity. His illness did not define him and therefore did not stop him from living a full life. Instead he accepted it and went about everyday life.
A message to those left behind and my dad
To my mom – dad loved you. The 49.5 years of marriage were made up of special, momentous times but also trying times. You stuck to your vows and were an example to us as children of what a solid marriage should be like. During this difficult time God will guide and give you strength. He will bring you comfort and healing.
To us as the children and grandchildren; the love and memories will never fade. 38 years ago we almost lost dad. He was in a major car accident and all odds were against him. But God intervened and bestowed His grace upon him. He survived and we had the privilege to get to know him for the man he was. He in turn had the privilege to see his grandchildren and watch them grow. Dad gave us everything he could, he gave us life experiences but most importantly his time.
To his siblings; my father loved each one of you. You had a wonderful brother. You were 9 children and now there is only 4 of you left. Continue to support and love each other. Trust in God and He will carry you through.
To the extended family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances who came to pay their last respects. My father had a special relationship with each of you. If you feel discouraged or have qualms with someone reach out to them today. Time waits for no one – as today is a gift, yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery.
Finally to my dad – as a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend – you did good. We are proud of the man you were. You lived your life to the fullest. We will forever love you and your passing has left a big void in our lives. You are at peace and free from the earthly troubles. Rest well; until we meet again.