Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Song for Dad

December 28th, 2008
Evening - 9:15 PM

Tuesday we bury my Uncle, William Wright. I would like to take this time to honor one of his friends that could not be with us here today, my father James Patrick Noone. On June 5th of this past year my father past the mortal coil that he inhabited for close to 67 years. On June 12th I presented this labor of love to the people that joined us in Drexel Hill, PA for the celebration of his life. I feel confident
enough to say that I did him proud that day.

I will be presenting my second eulogy in 6 months for one of my greatest friends and mentors tomorrow. Thank you all for your support and well wishes for me and my family; it means a great deal. As a reflection to the year that was, and in preparation for another emotional "prayer of life", I present to you, my
fathers eulogy. All I ask is for Big Jim to watch over me and provide me the strength I will need to make it through tomorrow.

The Photo: The last we have together as a family. Taken on May 31st, 2008 at the Capitol Grille in Philadelphia, PA (from left to right clockwise: James Noone, Alex Noone, Brendan Noone, Jim Muscarella, Roseanne Noone Muscarella, William Wright and Anne Noone).


A Song for Dad 6/11/2008

by Brendan Noone

Good morning everyone. On behalf of my Mother Anne, my sister Roseanne, my wife Alex, our daughters Emily & Julia, my future brother-in-law Jim, my father’s sisters, Fran, Annette, Marge & Mary Jo and my beloved Uncle Bill, I thank each and every one of you for being here with us today to celebrate the life of my father.

James Patrick Noone was born on August 18th, 1941, the first and only son of Irish immigrants Dominic and Mary. He was born 4 months before the “date that lived in Infamy”; he was born between the “Greatest Generation” and the “Baby Boomers”; he was a War-baby, even before there was a World War II. He was born in the middle of the last century of the millennium, the middle boy of four sisters and even the house he grew up in was located in the middle of 56th Street in Southwest Philadelphia. He was a first generation American with one foot firmly placed in the city of our Independence and another in the home of his parents, Mayo, Ireland. He was named after his father’s brother, Jimmy.

Jim grew up in a vibrant household. By the late 1940’s 56th Street was like Little Ireland. Teams of Irish flooded the North East of America in search of Freedom, Work, Happiness, as well as, Equality. His parents met here in America, not in Mayo. They created a little piece of Ireland in America as their foundation. My Dad’s father Dominic worked at the Oil Refinery for Atlantic for 47 years and his Mother Mary raise Jim, Fran, Annette, Marge and even his cousin Mary Jo (who Dad always called his sister). Oh yeah, there was one other person that lived in that Row-home, the first true character in my fathers life, Mary Jo’s father, my Dad’s beloved Uncle Steve.

See when you grow up in the middle of a family, of a block, of a century, you need to view things differently; you need to look at life from a certain perspective. You need to see things from all angles; you need to become a good listener; speak when spoken to and you better make sure that when you do speak, that it actually means something.

When you grow up in a house full of woman, you need perspective and most importantly you need to learn basic survival skills. You just can’t go running down the streets of Little Ireland screaming “its here, its here, its here…..” Dad wisely assessed the situation and realized that in order to survive Uncle Steve would need to become his Best Friend (which Steve Murphy was for nearly 30 years).

From what I heard, Mary ran a tight ship. The smell of food was constant in the household. Dominic and Steve worked shifts and their shifts changed from week to week, Mary had to be prepared to feed and take care of her little Army at all hours of the day. My father would fondly talk about what a warm home his parents and sisters created for him. He was always loved.He would talk to me about the sheer volume of kids there were to play with on the block, all the dinners they had at the house, all of the Irish people that would come in and out and most influential on my Dad, all of the music they would sing. According to Dad’s memories, the late 1940s and the 1950s were a great time to grow up in the middle.

47 years to the day that my father was admitted into the hospital this past week, June 3rd 1961, Jim Noone went out on his very first date with Anne Wright of Frasier Street. They went bowling and played mini-golf. My father’s sister Fran had a hand in the pairing; always telling my Dad “you should take out that nice girl, Annie Wright.” See Fran was good friends and classmates with Annie’s older brother Billy Wright and they both thought highly of the others siblings. Why not? Jimmy thought. Plus at that time my father suffered a terrible baseball injury, running into the outfield wall and breaking his jaw. His mouth was wired shut. Annie was safe and Jimmy needed the morale booster. The first date went well. It must have, for the second date Jim took Annie to see Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic comedy, Psycho. That little devil; he must have though - “if I can’t get a hug tonight, then I never will.”

Hitchcock led to trips to the “shore” and trips to the “shore” lead to getting to know the family and being made fun of by Uncle Steve; “Queen Anne” was her nickname, but that’s OK Dad said: “That means he likes you”. 5 years later, the two wed and Jim had a new best friend for life.

During this time my father started to shuffle his feet. One foot became planted in Fox Chase (where Anne and Jim had their first apartment together) and the other in Delaware County (where his parents and most of his family moved to). Jim and Anne moved to follow Dad’s career and his interest. Dad’s intense love for history led him to look into working for the Gov

ernment and the State department.

In 1971 they moved to the North East and found a new roommate, Mom’s Father William Wright. The respect and love for family that Dominic displayed in helping Uncle Steve during a time of loss was revisited when Anne and Jim offered to have Willie Wright move in with them after Rose Ferry Wright passed away that February. A year later and after close to five years of trying to have children, Anne and Jim had another new roommate, (ME) Brendan James Ferry Noone.

I had a wonderful childhood. I remember laughing and singing and rides in that great big yellow Ford LTD visiting Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop and having a 70 something chain-smoking, golf-loving Scotsman, Pop-Pop Wright as a Nanny for the first 10 years of my life. How do you top that? Most of all I remember my Dad being there every step of the way. Playing with me all the time, telling me elaborate stories (like how his car could fly but the electrical wires above the road would never let him get a clear take off) and sharing with me his love for sports, history and music.

See I always thought my Dad would have made a wonderful history teacher; being his first student and all I should know. He truly missed his calling. In hindsight, Dad’s professional life just never found the footing that his personal life did. My father never made a six fig

ure salary, he never drove a fancy European car, and he never belonged to a Country Club. My Father found comfort in other things. I always thought he spent his time in 3 different worlds:

THE PAST: Where he would escape into the Civil War, 18th Century Ireland or 56th St.

THE MOMENT: Where he was focused on Annie and the kids and the day to day.

THE FUTURE: He was always reading books on Science, things like String Theory or the Big Bang. He always had that sense of wonderment.

It all goes back to that perspective he taught himself all those many moons ago; how to always look at things objectively, starting at the middle, then from all sides and then make sure that before he opened his mouth to speak about something, that he knew the fact. His books and the knowledge within them helped my Dad overcome his fears and insecurities; it gave him confidence and offered escape.

Being his first student I wanted to share with you some moments my Dad shared with me that I think about everyday and things I am thankful for:

I am thankful that Jim loved my Mother so much.

That he gave me a baby sister when I asked for one.

That he taught me how to throw a baseball and as important, how to catch one.

That he kept me out of school and took me to the Phillies World Series parade in 1980 (even though Sister Virginia gave me detention).

That he was there for me to explain how in the world Darth Vader could be Luke

Skywalkers father.

That he took me to see Citizen Kane on the Big Screen.

That he taught me the Beatles.

That he told me to read Yeats.

That he made Rose and I visit Yeats grave in Sligo even though we would rather have had a PINT of Guinness instead – “Cast a cold eye on life, on death, Horseman pass by!”

That he made sure I knew the sacrifice that Michael Collins made for his country.

That he helped me remember Spiro Agnew’s role in Nixon's administration.

That he told me that Bobby was truly the brains of the operation and that he was the best President we never had.

That he taught me who Joshua Chamberlain was and how important he was to Pickett’s Charge and our Freedom.

That he taught me it was ok to cry during the Quiet Man.

That he taught us to love Ireland and to find it on our own terms.

That I got to see him sing and dance with the Wolfe Tones in Killarny.

That he sent Rose and I to 32 years of Private Catholic Education.

That he always accepted my friends and treated them like Men and Woman, even when some of us weren’t.

That he let Rosie and I marry outside of the Irish family.

That he accepted Alex and her family from Day 1 and understood when I would take the family to Milan for holidays.

That you taught my wife how to drive.

That he called me on 9/11 to thank me for bringing Rosie home safe and that he told me that all will be ok.

That he had the chance to spend a year & a half with Rosie’s Jim. He had a chance to know him, talk to him, educate him and love him.

That he loved my little girls more then words could say.

That he always told me he loved me and that he was proud of me.

That he sang

Some of these might seem trivial, but I swear to you they mean everything to me and these little moments helped to make me and my Sister the people we are today. The Teacher helped me more then you will know….

The last day I saw my Father, a Saturday ago, we were celebrating my Uncle Bill’s 43rd Anniversary at the Capitol Grille in Center City. As many of you know my dear friend Uncle Bill has been battling with his own illness. (I hope you feel the love today Uncle Bill and it makes you stronger.)

Over this past month and a half our immediate family has been spending every weekend together. Mom, Dad, Rosie, Jim, Alex, me and the Girls, we have been eating, drinking, laughing, telling stories and reflecting. Most of all, we have just been there for each other. All along I thought we were there for Uncle Bill, when it fact it turns out all along we were there for Dad; another Billy Wright miracle I guess.

May 2008 was a special month for our family and one I will cherish forever.

That night at the Grille, Dad was in a jovial mood, he had a lot to say and share. It was a magical night. Uncle Bill sat at one end of the long table in a private room and Dad at the other. Dad came to the dinner that night with a mission to share. He gave a gracious toast to my Uncle calling him the “brother he never had.” He gave a generous gift to Rosie and Jim to help them plan for their wedding; he complemented Mom on her great legs and gave me a Boston Globe article to read about a Mayo family that recently lost their Father.

The last moments I spent with my Dad were outside of the Capitol Grille on Broad and Chestnut. It was a clear, cool, spring night. We took a moment to stare up at Billy Pen together; admiring the restoration. I said it hasn’t looked this good since

when he took me to see the Phillies Parade in 1980.

My car pulled around and we shared a hug. He told me how proud he was of me one more time…..I collected my things, got the girls in the car and waved goodbye to Dad as he stood there with help from his cane.

One foot in Philadelphia and one in Mayo, one foot in the Greater North East and one in Delaware County, one foot in Feasterville and one in New York, & Hoboken & Washington DC & Basking Ridge….it’s been an amazing journey bud.

The journey came full circle on Thursday the 5th at 5:10 pm. We received a call from my blood brother Martin Ferry who lives in Donegal, Ireland. He called to pay his respects and to tell Dad to hang in there and be strong. One last sign from the Ireland; one last call to say – its ok, it’s time to come home Jim….. My father died at 5:15 pm.

I truly know my Father is in a better place. As Rose said the moment that he passed, “there will be no more suffering Dad.” While I would love to have you here with us today, I don’t think I could bear to see you in more pain. Those days are over, Dad.

I do have one wish that I pray could be granted; one last dream from a Son to a Father.

Dad - I wish you could stand up next to me here today, stand up straight

like you did when I was 6 and you were 36, I wish you could take a clean healthy breath, a full breath, the kind that make one smile after you exhale. I wish you could clear those lungs and fill the room

with a Song. Sing whatever you want Dad, sing “The Homes of Donegal”, sing Fats Domino, sing “There’s a Moon out Tonight”, sing “Hey Jude”, sing Rebel Songs, sing “A Nation Once Again”, “The Boys of the Old Brigade”, sing “Lady of Knock”. Sing whatever you want Dad.

Sing for the Past – for Mary and Dominic, for Uncle Steve, for Aunt Deedee, for Willie Wright, for Rose, for Peter Ferry, for Maggie, for Marietta.

Sing for the Moment – For Annie, for Uncle Bill, for my sister Rose, for your sisters, for their husbands, for all your nieces and nephews, for all the people here today honoring you and your life.

Sing for the Future – Sing for my little girls – Emily and Julia so that your song will carry them through life with the same opportunity you provided for me. For baby Ciera, for baby Sam, for baby Marisa,

Sing for Rosie and Jim so they can hear your warm, beautiful voice guide them through November 21, 2008 and on to their future together.

Most of all Dad, sing for yourself. It is when you were truly most happy, when you were the most inspired, most confident. It brought you joy; it brought a smile to others and it made Annie proud. I swear I can hear you now….

Bye bud. I love you – Always have, and I always will.

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