Eulogy for Bob Cipriano
Delivered by Tanner Cipriano – April 25, 2012
Hi, I’m Tanner. After the last week, I probably don’t need an introduction, but it’s an old habit, so please forgive me. Now, I want to get this out of the way first. My dad is planning on having all of you clean up the church after the service, so I hope you all brought your vacuum cleaners. For those of you who don’t know, my dad liked to use that joke whenever friends came over, and I consider you all friends. But that joke wasn’t the only thing I learned from my dad. No, there was so much more. Regrettably, learning how to tie a tie was not one of them, as you may all see. I was fortunate enough to have him as a coach for several years, but when I reflect on my time with him now, he had that whistle in his hands for all 17 years of my life with him. And you might not want to hear this, Isabella, but Dad’s going to keep blowing that whistle in our hearts. So get ready to run some more laps. With him as my role model, I’ve already learned so much, and yet his legacy continues to open my eyes every day.
Respect means a lot to many people, whether you’re a young athlete making an impression on his peers, or Aretha Franklin trying to spell the word out. Unfortunately, people today have forgotten its simple meaning, and respect has lost its value because of it. But, my dad was not one of these people. He would always say respect isn’t given, it’s earned, and he truly lived this. He let his actions speak for his words, especially when pointing to the dishes instead of commanding me to do them. And he was never self-serving, (except when he pulled the “head-of-the-house card” on our La-Z-Boy). At dinner, he would let the rest of us eat before he served himself, usually a lot smaller serving than Tore’s and my own. However, as he waited for us to eat, he never failed to point out that this wasn’t the case for the dinners with his own dad. My dad also emphasized having character over being a character, which he reminded me quite a few times, especially after parent-teacher conferences with a few of my more STRESSED teachers. As the coach of many teams, especially here at St. Fabian, my dad dealt with enough characters to cast a Shakespearean play. Every year, he started with a crowd of scoundrels, and attempted the impossible by turning them into a unit of men. On a side note, as a coach, the easiest way to give your team some character is running them. Running them A LOT. Just ask any of my dad’s players. Even with all his virtues and principles, I’ve heard from his brothers and friends that he could be quite a character himself. I haven’t heard too many college stories YET, but I was lucky enough to watch him play his brothers in ping pong last year, and witnessed plenty of abuse spewing from his mouth. But when it mattered most, my dad had enough character to put the rest of our misbehaviors to shame. We are all looking for respect, but few of us are willing to work for it. With my dad’s help, I can only hope to earn as much reverence as him one day. My dad never held out his hand for respect, and because of this he received so much more.
“Working hard or hardly working?” my dad would ask. My dad was never one to relax when work was to be done, and he pushed me the same way. He drilled me in all aspects of life, from athletics, to academics, even in the daily chores. He was a great coach, and the key to his success was a LOT of conditioning. As all of you now know, my dad liked to run his teams. Soccer was a leg sport, basketball was a leg sport, baseball was a leg sport, and if he had coached it, I’m sure HANDBALL would have been a leg sport as well. His lessons in hard work really did magic. For example, my childhood pictures can attest to the fact that I was never this lean. In my defense, I like to say I was packing on the pounds to stay warm for the winter. But my dad never accepted this excuse, and in fifth grade my dad really started pushing me to shed some of this water weight. I began running more and more, and eventually, I found myself in shape. Since then, my dad has been completely behind all of my athletic endeavors, and I’m a harder worker because of it. Academically, I have been gifted, and I’ll let my mom’s and my dad’s families fight over which one gave me the genes. But this doesn’t mean I haven’t worked for my grades, and I was even more blessed to have parents who care about my schoolwork. My dad always had my brother’s and my report cards in hand, telling us “you can do better.” Because of your guidance, Dad, I have excelled as a student, and I’ll dedicate my next 100% to you. Or my next detention, whichever comes first. My dad liked a clean house, and my whole family paid because of it. With the abundance of chores to be done, Tore and I were never afraid to accuse our parents of child labor. But when I really look back, I definitely recognize that my dad worked a lot harder around the house than the rest of us, but if you ask me, I was next in line. I always have to pick up the slack for Tore, don’t I, Isabella? Cleaning might not have been his favorite hobby — or maybe it was — but my dad really worked hard at it. As my role model, my dad is at the top of a high ladder, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to climb that ladder, but it’s hard work he would have expected.
My dad was never the emotional type. He didn’t always embrace me with hugs or shower me with kisses, but love was exactly what he was all about. Everything he did was done for the sake of love. My mom isn’t going to want to hear this, but let’s face it, my dad had more love affairs than Tiger Woods a good day. He loved basketball, he loved baseball, he loved football, he loved soccer, he loved golf, he loved his job, he loved his friends, he loved his in-laws (even during those hectic Thanksgivings), he loved his brothers, he loved his parents, he loved his children, and HE LOVED YOU TOO, MOM. He showed his love when he ran his players until they were exhausted, when he told his brothers they stink at ping pong, when he made his kids clean the whole house, and even when he argued with my mom. My dad is the most loving man I know, and in a time like this, love is exactly what we all need. A couple of days ago, a friend asked me, “why do bad things happen to good people?” And I told him he was looking at it all wrong. Yes, this has been a tragic event; yes, we will all miss my father; and yes, it will change all of our lives forever, but God didn’t do this because he was punishing anyone. What’s there to punish? I’m positive if I asked my dad’s friends, they’d assure me that he never swore. So I am here today to tell you why good things happen to better people. It’s because God loves us, and we love each other. In the last week, I have felt more love than I have ever felt before. All eyes have been on my sister and me since the moment we left that police station. I might be wrong, but I don’t think I’m THAT ugly. No, it’s because you all care and you all love. Language will fail anyone who tries to put this love into words. Believe me, I have tried to myself, and I have watched many others attempt the same feat. But the love that I see in all of your eyes is so much more, and it goes along with my dad’s own love very well. He rarely said, “I love you,” but I wouldn’t expect anything more from a father who always seemed to like my cute little sister more… It was the actions he took and the expressions he gave which said so much more, and I know he’s up there right now giving me the same smile, because he truthfully did love me along with all of his children, including Tucker. My dad never loved him less. Through the hard times and the good times, my dad was always there to welcome him back home. As a bystander, I never understood why my dad continued to love him, or why he didn’t just give in and call Tucker a lost cause. It was because of love. My dad loved him like a son because Tucker WAS a son. Both my mom and my dad are the most forgiving people I know, and although I did not understand it, I respected them immensely for it. But like I said, my dad has taught me a lot, and in the last week, he’s taught me even more. This week has been a lesson in love, and I finally do understand. Tucker was our family, and while he was never exactly like us, in mind or in actions, we must still love him like any other brother. And Mitchell … he is also in need of our forgiveness, because like Tucker, he has ruined his own life as well. So I stand here, in my most vulnerable hour, and beg, in the absence of my father, that all of you may find it in your loving hearts to forgive Mitchell and to forgive Tucker as my father had time after time after time. Because it is only after true forgiveness that true healing will begin. My father was a loving man, and with his guidance, I pray that we may all follow in his footsteps of love.
Now, instead of waiting for my mom to heal up and then getting yelled at for not writing out thank-you notes to each and everyone of you, let me, on behalf of my mother, my father, my brother, my sister, and the Cipriano and Trahan family, thank all of you while we’re still together. This has been a rough time for all of us, but with your help, our ability to cope has multiplied beyond measure. Our family appreciates all the prayers and the support more than any of us can articulate. Walking into that stadium Sunday night was a good end to long week, and it was even more reassuring to know that it was only a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of prayers storming heaven at this very moment. I’m sure my dad’s up there right now trying to organize all those prayers into bookbinders and filing cabinets. He never really appreciated a messy office. With all of your help, I know that my mom and brother won’t be up there in heaven anytime soon. It’ll be the first time my dad won’t mind those two being late to something. Thank you all again. And for any of you still wondering what the middle initials JKLP really stand for, I’ll let you guys in on a little secret: Just. Keep. Loving. People.
God bless all of you.