Submitted by Kimberly Dienes, guest blogger.
Sometimes, paradoxically, the most difficult times in our lives can lead to some of the happiest occurrences and memories. Although I had heard about Jonathan Turley from my father many times, I met him at my father’s funeral. Some of you may have seen his wonderful blog about my father, Charles Thomas Dienes (http://jonathanturley.org/2014/04/24/farewell-to-tom-dienes/). Jonathan suggested that I join his blog as a contributor and publish my eulogy for Dad.
The key message of the eulogy is this: it is not easy to love. Many words, phrases, and stories in our culture might lead you to believe it is, falling, instant, first glance, but love takes much more than effortless submission to a greater force…it is an act, and sometimes that act can be difficult. The act requires vulnerability, it requires communication, it requires thought and time. Loving can be so very difficult, especially in a fast paced modern world that puts a premium on speed and ease. There is a wonderful book by Eric Fromm called “The Art of Loving.” My mother read it before she married my father, and I read it before I met my husband. It carries the very clear message that loving is an art, that it takes effort, that it is more than something that happens to us, but is something that we do. That is my father’s greatest legacy. He loved and he knew how to love, how to communicate that love to those around him. Therefore, as my first act as a guest contributor on this blog, I would like to publish this eulogy in his memory.
Eulogy for Tom Dienes-4/26/2014
My father left an amazing legacy in terms of achievement, but that was not his greatest legacy. His greatest legacy was that he was a truly good man.
A good man provides for his loved ones. Dad went from an apartment over a shop in a poor neighborhood in Chicago to a lovely house in Bethesda, and mom and I will be financially secure for the rest of our lives. A good man protects his loved ones. I used to call Dad my rock, because no matter what was going on in my life, I could go to him and one hug would make me feel safe. Mom and I knew that we never needed to be afraid of what life may bring, because he was there. A good man is honorable, a true gentleman. As Simon, my husband says, my father was a true gentleman and a scholar. He kept his promises, he was truthful, he helped and mentored hundreds of students, was a role model to fellow faculty, and had this huge sense of responsibility to people, represented in his giving to charity as well as his kindness and generosity on a more personal level.
He also had an incredible capacity for joy. I will always remember his face after he made a joke and was waiting for you to laugh..something like this. And then he would laugh at his own joke. He was terribly punny and would walk in to the kitchen announcing “your lives can start, I’m here!” Even during rough times, dad was always upbeat and had a smile. His consistent joy just radiated to those around him. You can really see it in those pictures I think.
All of these, providing, protecting, honoring, are components of what make a good man, but my father’s true legacy was this last component. My Daddy knew how to love. It seems like it should be a simple thing doesn’t it? Truly loving another so that he or she knows how much they mean. It isn’t simple, and yet he did. I knew every day of my life that I was loved, so did mom. He managed to have an amazing career, while always putting us first, so there was never a doubt in my mind that his family was what truly brought him joy. I knew it in the way his face would light up when he saw me, in the way his voice sounded on the phone, in his hugs, which let me tell you are legendary. His love was there to see every day and we knew, we knew we were loved. And the feeling was mutual.
He and mom have been married for 48 years and they still have the kind of romantic love that I am told usually fades with time. It didn’t for them. Everyone who listened to her sing to him, tell him how special he was to her, pray with him, heard them talk together in the hospital, said to me something I already knew, that their love was something special, and it drew people to them. They needed each other, and weren’t afraid of how beautiful that can be. You could see it in the way they looked at each other. But, I don’t have to eulogize that love, it will live forever. She wears his wedding ring around her neck even now, and he died with her head on his shoulder, and her hand on his head.
His love was very mutual for me too. I remember I was in a car with some friends who were teasing me about being a daddy’s girl, a princess. I was defending myself, and my independent achievements, when the phone rang. I answered and, after hearing his voice, said “Daddy!” The entire car cracked up. I’ve never lived that down. But, I admit it freely here to all of you now, I am a total daddy’s girl. He lit up my life and was my constant secure base. I will always remember him reading to me, and singing to me, badly, Davy Crocket was a favorite, every night, and driving me to school in the morning. He is the reason I’m an assistant professor today, because he instilled in me a work ethic and true love of learning. I could go to him with anything, whether in a phone call or our daddy daughter dinners. He was the best father a child could ever have.
Charles Thomas Dienes, Tom, my father, was a good man, one of the truest good men, and really a special human being. He is at peace with God in heaven now, so this is a day of joy as well as sorrow. I feel him in the breeze, I hear him in a funny joke that pops into my head, he is still here, and always will be. Daddy, I carry you inside of me and will pass your legacy of love on to my children, your grandchildren. I love you so much, and I will miss you every day of my life. He loved, and he will be loved, always.
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20 thoughts on “Eulogy for Charles Thomas Dienes”
RTC, I’m sorry for your difficult year. You were gracious and generous for sharing your grief w/ someone else who is also grieving. I surmise it was difficult for you to talk about. It helps both of you. Grief is a bond we all share.
Thank you all of you for such lovely comments. I will share them with my mother as well. We were truly lucky to have such a wonderful family, as you say, and I will always be grateful. RTC, I’m so sorry for your losses and I’m really touched that the eulogy might have helped you along a path you have started already. Keep going and I’m sure your wife enjoyed that breakfast!
Kim: A very moving tribute. My heart goes out you and your family. Together with Jonathan’s touching article, it’s apparent you father’s was truly a life well lived.
I agree that love isn’t easy, not all the time, and I think your dad did his best to inspire those who knew him to love – to simply love.
I have not said this before in this forum, but last year was tough in terms of personal loss. I lost a close family member or friend at the rate of one per month for five months straight, April to August; only one them was older than me. One was my age, which is bad enough, but it was the youngest two that affected me terribly, because they died tragically; my cousin, a police officer, struck and killed while out riding his bicycle, and my nephew, an Iraqi war vet, killed in a motorcycle accident. I can longer read obituaries of strangers the same without a changed sense of life’s brevity.
Losing someone suddenly convinced me of how important it is to always let the people you love know you love them. And, since we never know when it might be the last time we ever speak to someone, how important it is to not let those words be harsh…or uncivil.
You’ll notice that once in a great while, Jonathan will delete comments that he deems are uncivil, remonstrating for more civility among the threads. I’m starting to get the whole civility thing, and that the tighter enforcement is probably a result of your father’s example in life. No doubt that as an attorney, your dad found plenty of opportunity to disagree with people, yet he must have always done so with civility. That legacy continues here.
It seems your father also lived to inspire others, as well as love, and as if I didn’t already have reason enough, your eulogy has newly inspired me to work harder at loving, and being easier to love, and not just with family and friends. His legacy continues on and thank you for sharing it with us – with me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go make my wife some breakfast.
Your father was mighty successful to have such a terrific eulogy from one who knew him best. I look forward to more from you when you’re ready.
What eloquence of words. One must take pause as to whom to acclaim more, your dad’s praiseworthiness or your evoking rememberance of him through prose in the warmth of your writings. Both equally, I might suggest.
I am looking forward to your future writings. That is, after you have enjoyed your travels. And, there is no hurry. We’ll be here when the time has come.
Éirinn go Brách
Beautifully done and heartfelt, but I do take one small issue. It is quite easy to love, but very difficult to be loved — especially by those who know you best. That your father accomplished both with apparent great ease tells me more about his legacy than any trivial treatise on law or some other less sacred calling. Rejoice in a life worth living and a legacy worth having.
He sounded like a lovely person, and a gift to know. You won the lottery for family.
Somewhere in my own grief for my father, a therapist told me how lucky I was to have had such a wonderful father that I could grieve for. I have never forgotten it. Another reason that loving is hard is because you miss that person when he or she is gone. But how much worse to have not had such a wonderful parent. My sympathies to you, and your eulogy was heartfelt and very beautiful.
Your entire family sounds wonderfully blessed to have been part of each other’s lives, and for what you have provided back to the world.
It’s been 30 years and I still think of my father each and every day. My mother as well.
You have my deepest sympathies.
Beautiful. How fortunate you are. I’d give everything I have to have had a father like that. Blessings upon you and your family. Namaste.
What a wonderful message to your Dad. I know that his spirit
lives on in you and your family. Enjoy and treasure the
memories you have of him and keep them alive in your heart.
Reblogged this on Lawyers on Strike.
Kimberly, sometimes a music video will be posted to enhance the topic.
To facilitate and engage in thought…. Natural, carnal and spiritual.
Sample this “Heaven” and have a tissue box near by.
Beautifully told and wonderful that this was your experience with your father.
Your comment ,” The key message of the eulogy is this: it is not easy to love. Many words, phrases, and stories in our culture might lead you to believe it is, falling, instant, first glance, but love takes much more than effortless submission to a greater force…it is an act, and sometimes that act can be difficult.” reminds me of the famous passage from the bible, the “love” chapter.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
I Corinthians 13
This is God’s definition of love and it is not simply an emotion. It is deed, it is action.
I have committed this passage to memory and often repeat it as I try to be the father and husband that Charles Dienes was.
“Because modern humans are alienated from each other and from nature, we seek refuge from our aloneness in romantic love and marriage (pp. 79–81). However, Fromm observes that real love “is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone.” It is only through developing one’s total personality to the capacity of loving one’s neighbor with “true humility, courage, faith and discipline” that one attains the capacity to experience real love.” – Eric Fromm, The Art of Loving
Your father got the right book … for all of us.
I am so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. Prof. Dienes was my Con Law II professor at GW Law. He was a great professor. I still remember how excited he would get in class. He was kind and helpful.
Jonathan was shaken by your dad’s death. A daughter has a unique relationship w/ a daughter. He is a template for your choice in a mate. Knowing that, I’m certain your father is happy w/ your choice of a husband. I was touched that your referred to your daddy as “a true gentleman.” The highest praise my father would bestow on a man is to call him “a true gentleman.” High praise indeed. I’m sure you still carry sorrow in your heart. Sharing your love of your “daddy” will help ease that sorrow.
Beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing this with us. An outstanding tribute to a remarkable man.
Kimberly what a beautiful eulogy for your father. He’s sounds like he was a truly special man and very much loved by his family. Thank you for sharing this with us.
You sound like you came from a wonderful family and for that Kimberly you are truly blessed and enhanced. One think I have learned is to love the ones that love you, even when you don’t feel like it, you never know how long you have with anyone of them. Life passes too fast and then it’s gone.
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