My father, Otmar Boser, passed away a few weeks ago. I said a few words at the funeral along with my brother and sister, and I am sharing my eulogy here.
A few nights ago, my father, Otmar Boser, had a decision to make. At the time, it seemed pretty clear that a car accident had paralyzed my father from the chest down. His feet? He couldn’t use them. His legs? Also gone.
At best, my father might have use of his arms.
But my father could take a risk. On that evening, he could decide to get a surgery that might give him the power of his legs again. The risks of the surgery were high. Because of the nature of the car accident, Otmar might die during the surgery. Or in the words of the surgeons, he would “bled out.”
My family all went into the hospital room together to discuss the decision, and within moments, my father indicated in a weak voice that he wanted the surgery. He wanted the risk.
Then we hung around for some short moments, hanging out in the sterile room, standing around his bed, waiting for him to be wheeled out away by the surgeons.
We talked about the decision, and what happened during that short hour says a lot about who my father was as a person.
Standing in the room, tears in our eyes, the implication of the surgery washed over us, and my mother mentioned Greek philosophers and the value of the quality of life over quantity.
But my father interjected loudly from the bed: “Who cares” he said.
This was raw dad. It was alway clear what my father wanted. If he didn’t like what you had to say, he would tell you. If he didn’t want to hear about Greek philosophers, he would let you know.
On the flip side, it was very clear about my father loved, what he cared for, what he wanted. Otmar loved my mother with an outsized passion, and when I was boy, my mother was in an accident. (We are a family with a long list of medical issues.)
And a police officer had to tackle my father—breaking two of my father’s ribs–to keep him from joining my mother on an emergency helicopter ride.
My father also loved science, and he had an unending curiosity. He wanted more than anyone to really know. Time, alloys, space, crystals. I once remember my father discussing—at length—the exact process by which eggs hardened when they’re boiled
Then, still waiting for the surgery, my family said a prayer together, and at the end, my father said something along the lines of “Rituals are important.”
You see, my father believed in conventions. Doing the right thing was important to him. Being kind was important to him. He could be so sweet, especially to children and he’d read them endless stories, patient with all their wishes. In much the same way, animals love him, and for a long time we had a cat that would hang around my father’s neck like a scarf while we ate dinner.
Except, of course, when my father didn’t like the convention, and I’ll admit it. He had a slew of odd little habits. Picking his nose, chewing on bones, using his pinky nail to clean his teeth. I remember my father once going on a job interview with two different colored socks.
As the minutes ticked by in that hospital room, as all of us stayed together, talking and crying, in the florescent light. My father grew impatient, as we all did, and he said loudly: “Let’s go.”
This is the final and perhaps most important take-away. My father was someone who wanted to live life. I remembering him talking to me about the art of pouring a wheat beer— slowly. If you put a bowl of whipped cream in front of him, he’d finish off the entire bowl, even turning his finger into a type of hook, so he could get every last bit of cream.
He and my mother loved their adventures, from walking across obscure bridges to the occasional moments of skinny dipping. Or just listen to one of his favorite songs: Mighty Sparrow’s I’ve Got An Itch.
As we all know, the surgery wasn’t fully successful, and my father died a few days later. But I say to you “Let’s Go”and celebrate who he was—and the memories that he left us. That’s after all want he wanted for himself—and for us.