Sunday, March 27, 2011

Robert Joseph Carroll, Jr.

After a nearly 3 year battle with multiple myeloma and multiple system atrophy, my dad passed away Monday, March 21st around 9:15 pm. He was surrounded by family and I had the blessing of being right at his bedside when he died.

On the day he died, he began to have difficulty breathing and lost most responsiveness around 11:30 am. At that point, family left work and quickly came to his bedside. We said many prayers that day and are especially grateful that my sister, Beth was able to make it in from Nashville. His death was peaceful, quick, and he was surrounded by loved ones - it was exactly what he had hoped for.

My siblings and I had the honor of speaking his eulogy at his funeral. Here is what was said:

Thank you everyone for coming. Today is a difficult and sad day, which were few and far between in the days spent with our dad. He always made everyone laugh and had a dream of going to an open mike night…and a couple of weeks ago we spent an afternoon talking with him about what he would want said on this day. There is no doubt he brought laughter to everyone’s life. So here it goes…

You have Bob Carroll’s impeccable memory if you remember the date of your sister’s aunts cat’s date of neuter.

If you ever were taught that listening was more important than talking, and to not interrupt others, EVER, you might be Bob Carroll’s children.

If you ever asked to check Bob Carroll’s vitals, and his response was…”Can I at least buy you dinner first?” You might be Bob Carroll’s caregiver.

If you were ever at a hardware store, and offered rope to hold down your purchase…and thought the better option was to have your three kids under the age of 8 hang out the window to hold down the wood, you might be Bob Carroll’s Kids…

If you ever thought the check engine light was a recommendation and not a requirement, you might be Bob Carroll’s family… stranded on the side of the highway.

If you ever spent your summer playing Plinko on a homemade version because you thought the Price is Right was the greatest show on earth, you might be Bob Carroll’s kids.

As Bob Carroll’s Child, You learned Entertainment. There were many nights with just the four of us while mom was at work, including holidays. We spent a memorable New Years Eve at a bowling alley and a Christmas night a movie theater. We grew up playing Uno, watching Bob Newhart, and making castles out of toothpicks and marshmallows. No other children learned euchre at the age of five, but it pays off in our skills now! And despite monetary bribes to pass certain levels of Super Mario Brothers, only Keith ever beat the game. Our bets extended to long games of Tripoly and poker with pennies…which even though we didn’t keep and wasn’t real money, we felt impressed whenever dad would bet 5 coins at once.

As Bob Carroll’s child, you learned Honesty. When one of us was little, a minor lie was told about giving the dog water, and the entire family took part in determining the punishment…it sort of felt like a major court trial. And none of us can leave a store with the wrong amount of change or extra stuff. For instance, one day, dad ordered some sandwiches from a dollar menu. He happened to get an extra sandwich, which he called the store to report while eating the extra, and took a dollar to the store next day to make up for it. Probably the employee kept the dollar, but we all felt better!

As Bob Carroll’s child, you learned how to be humble. We knew times were tough, but still felt like Indiana Beach was the mecca of amusement parks based on his excitement for that great day each summer. We all recall chugging Diet Cokes to get 5 dollars off of the entrance fee, riding the Falling Star and Seadragon, playing Fascination, and eating tacos, corndogs, elephant ears, and ice cream (yes, we did eat all that). Spring breaks were spent with a couple of nights at a Holidome, which was a hotel 45 minutes away with an indoor pool and recreational area. Who needs Disney World when you have a Holidome? Dad was so proud of our pacman and ping pong skills! Those trips and the multiple other vacations, as well as braces and schools were only possible due to dad’s overwhelming devotion to picking up extra jobs…including a paper route for years that involved walking in the rain and snow at 4 in the morning.

As Bob Carroll’s Child, you learned to be Charitable. If you wanted to help with the chores, dad would want you to just help. He often said: “Don’t offer to help, just do it.” We all recall one specific Thanksgiving when dad took the three of us downtown to feed the homeless. We probably picked a bad day since most people were already at shelters. So we drove around alleys for almost an hour before we found a woman named Jean. We took her to White Castle, one of the only places open on Thanksgiving, shared a few sliders and some onion rings, before coming back to our own family to spend the day.

As Bob Carroll’s child, you learned Loyalty. One summer when we went camping, which dad never loved, we had a terrible rain one night and dad stayed awake for hours holding up the top of the tent to try to keep us dry. On a more serious note, after his mom died, we spent 10 years as a family praying the rosary on Sunday nights. And we are most proud of his efforts for sobriety out of love for his entire family, and likely one of the things he fought the hardest to achieve.

As Bob Carroll’s Child, you learned to be Supportive. We grew up with neighborhood friends, playing kickball in the front yard. It was 6 kids vs. Big Bad Bob…and even though numbers were in our favor, we always felt like the underdog , so when we were victorious, it felt like such an accomplishment. We had similar feelings when we would beat dad at other childhood games…however, the difference is that he would promptly remind us that he had pulled a “situation,” which meant that he had let us win. For our sporting events, he often was more anxious than we were and would meet us outside of locker rooms for supportive hugs. He would try to pump us up with singing “take me out to the ballgame” prior to little league baseball games, and we all have the locker room speech from the movie Hoosiers memorized from mornings spent watching it prior to big games.

As Bob Carroll’s Child, you learned Courage. On sunny days, we would spend time by a creek with the plan to feed ducks. We each got an entire loaf of stale bread to pass the time. These were no normal ducks, but rather Canadian Geese…and we distinctly remember rushing to the top of a car to escape their angry beaks. And most importantly, he inspired all of us with his courage the last three years. 3 weeks ago, he and I looked up the Odds of his combination of diagnoses and we determined that Bob Carroll is truly 1 in a million, and likely the only person in Indianapolis with both multiple myeloma and multiple system atrophy. He fought through hospital stays, loss of independence, and many days at home. He has been an inspiration for all.

Beth: I thank dad for all special moments we spent together doing jumbles and taking walks. Laura: I thank dad for all evenings filled with the Wheel of Fortune and love shown to my daughters. Keith: I thank dad for shooting baskets with me in the backyard, wormies, and all the mornings spent sharing coffee.

We all know that dad is being taken care of in Heaven just as he was taken care of here. In his last day on earth, he had a conversation with his deceased mom and shared laughs. We know they are laughing together above.

And now in dad’s final words, and written by him…

Hello! Thank you for coming today. I know some of you travelled far to be here. I just want to make a few comments. I sincerely hope that you can see that this is a day for celebration. We have always known that we were going to face this day in our lives. I mean, what did you think this was going to feel like! Seriously, I want to thank Kathy for all of her love and devotion for these 33 years. Her love, devotion and care giving was admirable and heartwarming. My three children, Keith, Beth and Laura were also a solid shoulder for me to lean on. Of course, there were many others. If I name them, I will probably leave somebody out. Most of them are probably sitting in this church today. I would like to say a prayer of thanksgiving for my two precious granddaughters, Claire and Grace. They have been a great source of joy, at least most of the time! They will be joined by two more grandchildren this summer and I will be watching their arrivals from above. Remember the laughter and good times. Smile!

Thank you for all of the love and support you have shown - words cannot describe the gratitude we feel. We appreciate continued prayers as we continue to grieve the loss of a truly wonderful man...


MinkyDink said...

Your dad really was a great guy and will truly be missed. The eulogy was wonderfully said and a great tribute. I know your dad loved hearing it from above. Thinking of you all and sending an endless amount of hugs your way.

brooke said...

I am so very sorry.