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Nothing Stays the Same — Thankfully

Nothing Stays the Same — Thankfully

My family and I laid my father to rest last week. It’s a difficult time but I can say with confidence because of our deep faith in Christ, we will see him again.

Antoine R. Kabalan circa 1960’s

I gave the eulogy at his funeral. The definition of eulogy is a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, typically someone who has just died. The honest truth was we had a lot of ups and downs in our relationship over the years, particularly during my 20’s. As time marched on, I witnessed that he wasn’t the same incredibly handsome and fiery person of his youth and realized that neither was I. I’m grateful for the reconciliation that God orchestrated. I could have turned away from it but my faith wouldn’t allow it. Here are the words I shared about my father, Antoine R. Kabalan, born Christmas day 1941 in Tripoli, Lebanon:


Thank you all for coming to celebrate my father’s life and his passing into eternity. I’d like to share some things that always made me chuckle, smile, or just smack my head about my dad.

My father had no filter

It didn’t matter if he knew you well or not, if he didn’t like something, unfortunately he would tell you right away. My nephews shared with me recently that one day he was visiting them in their car dealership when a man they knew stopped in and shared some of his wife’s homemade doughnuts. My dad having an insatiable sweet tooth was more than happy to sample one. He took one bite and said, “This is garbage!” And threw it right in the trash in front of the guy! Yes, being tactful wasn’t his strong suit.

The things he loved

Corn flakes. He had without exaggeration at least 15 jumbo boxes I counted one time in his pantry. These are the boxes you get from BJ’s where each contains 2 bags full of cereal. My sister tells me a story of when she went shopping with him and his entire cart (the carts at BJ’s are huge) was filled with these boxes!

Fig trees.  Nearly 30 years ago, I gave him his first tree. It was a branch cutting from a really sweet Italian family that was kind enough to share with me. There’s at least 10 fig trees in his garden right now. He was always busy tending to them, cultivating them, eating and sharing his bounty. In the fall he would ever so carefully pack them up for the winter trimming them down and laying a tarp over them. My father worked tirelessly on them.

Dad’s home grown figs


His Garden. Nearly his whole life was spent in a city. He was born and raised in Tripoli, lived in Buffalo, and a couple of suburbs. When he purchased his home in Tonawanda with the biggest back yard he ever owned, he dug up his fig tree and moved it to it’s new surroundings. He had visions of a large garden until he saw the deer, rabbits, ground hogs, squirrels, and birds devour anything growing out there. He knew he had to protect his beloved fig tree and veggies he wanted to grow. So, he built himself a huge wooden garden enclosure.

Dad’s wooden enclosure showing its age.

Around the same time, I was a mom to 3 young boys and would read a story to them called Muncha Muncha Muncha by Candace Fleming. It’s about Mr. McGreely and the great lengths he would go through to protect his garden from the pesky rabbits. “He built a tall wooden wall around the small wire fence…” And this continued throughout the book of more building and more ways of protection.

It was as if this story was coming to life through my dad because after putting up the enclosure, he paid to have a 6 foot wooden fence installed around the perimeter of his property to keep out the deer. Every now and again, a critter or two would make it into his structure and cause him to do even more tweaking to secure it. After about 15 years, sadly, it collapsed under the weight of snow and ice. My father refused to live without an enclosure, in fact, he obsessed about having a new one. With him being older now, my brother, Bernard, paid for and built him a new one, only this time it was with galvanized steel poles, the kind you find on chain link fences.

Dad in his new metal enclosure next to the original fig tree I gave him nearly 30 years ago.

His Illness

We had noticed he was growing weaker and more frail over time. He needed more and more attention until finally he required 24 hour care. I’m proud to say that my siblings and I were there for him and granted him his wish to die in the comfort of his own home.

One day he was sad for how his body was failing him and he said to me, “I love you. I want you to know I really love you and your family with all my heart.”

There were many years where we didn’t get along and I had a chip on my shoulder. I kept my distance. But when I look back, I see all the love he gave me so clearly. He was always willing to help me. Growing up, if I needed a ride, day or night, he was there, without question. If I needed something from the store, I would find it dropped off at some point during the day when I was at school or at work.

I have fond memories of him taking me to Howard Johnson’s on Delaware and North, where Walgreens is today, for ice cream. That was our weekly outing after the divorce. He used to joke with the waitress to keep the bill open because I had a habit of adding to the order whenever I finished something.

Finally, my father went to sleep on a Wed and continued to sleep for days. I was told he would hear us even though he was in this state. On his last night on earth, I was standing over his bed and I told him all I realized — things I never fully verbalized to him when he was awake. While rubbing his head, through tears, I thanked him for being a good father to me all these years.

Dad and me selfie time on his back porch

The Blessing

Dad’s prayer card

I’d like to end this by saying a blessing over him, I said it many times to him when he was ill. It is also printed on his prayer card if you’d like to follow along.

To my dad:

The Lord bless you
And keep you.
Make His face
Shine upon you
And be gracious to you.
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

My Prayer

I ask that you don’t wait until your loved one is so sick that they may not even hear the words you’re saying. Forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven you. Life is too short.