Barry E. Kleban
October 14, 1924 - June 15, 2011
This week will be the anniversary of my father's passing. I have decided to dedicate my blog this week to my daddy. It's a bittersweet time for me, as my birthday falls just one week prior to the day my daddy passed. In addition, Father's Day is within a couple of days of the anniversary as well. I loved him more than he ever knew, although I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to spend 10 wonderful days with him before he became too sick.
I am from a Jewish family and we were unable to find an available Rabbi to perform his service, so along with my sister Andrea and my brother Brad, we put the entire ceremony together. I think we did him very proud.
The following is the eulogy that I gave at my dad's funeral service:
The last few months, my dad struggled with cancer...became very frail...so initially when I sat down to write this, I could only think about his frailness...but today I choose to celebrate the healthy vibrant father I knew all my life...so I have one story out of the many that I have thought about over the last week.
When I was 10 years old, America was celebrating it’s bicentennial. I didn’t know what to think when he first suggested this to me, but he said Mel - we’re going to see the freedom train. I thought - the Freedom Train? I want to go to Great America - the new amusement park and ride on roller coasters. But he insisted we go see the American Freedom Train. See, Daddy was a history buff - and he wanted his little girl to see, understand and love America’s history as well.
So...off to the freedom train we went.
The American Freedom Train was a traveling train that went around the country carrying all of America’s symbols of freedom and history. The Liberty Bell, the Constitution... It turned out to be the most wonderful day of my life. It was just him and I...just the two of us walking around looking at all of this history. I remember how special he made me feel that day...I was there with MY DADDY...the rest of the world didn’t even exist for us...it was our day. It was made just for us...it has always been the memory that stuck out for me among all others.
We visited him in April, and the morning we were leaving to go home, we were sitting on the couch - just the two of us - saying goodbye - and he squeezed my hand and said Mel...do you remember the Freedom Train? As it turns out, it was his fondest memory of the two of us as well...what a blessing...what a wonderful gift he gave me that day in 1976 and what a wonderful memory he left me with on the day that I last saw him...
Daddy, I love you and miss you so much...and in my heart I know you’re riding that Freedom Train once again.