As I mentioned on a post last month, we had to say goodbye to an incredible man- the patriarch of my Bedol family: Papa Marshall. I realize that calling him “Papa” might be confusing to some, as technically my last remaining grandparent (Papa Alan) passed away this summer.
Dancing with my “Papa” Marshall
Me with my grandfather’s twin brother, Papa Marshall.
In terms of the family tree, Marshall was my great-uncle, but he was so much more than that. It sounds so impersonal to call him simply “great-uncle.” He was connected to my grandfather for 87 years until my papa’s death. They were literally inseparable. When one would take a trip, they would call each other 5 times a day. Even in living in the same city, they would call each other 5 times a day, work with each other, see each other for lunch and dinner, and then still call each other before going to bed. They were two halves of the same quirky whole. Papa Alan was the outgoing one who would approach anyone and give them Pic n Floss and show his pictures. Well, Papa Marshall would do the same, but he was gentler, more gracious, and always let you know how much he appreciated you.
Marshall (left) with my grandfather, Alan
At times when the twins were together (which was always), Papa Alan would occasionally call me (or I would think it was him), and he would just start talking and asking silly questions. It would be my Papa Marshall trying to trick me. This is the time that I would start calling Marshall “Papa Marshall.” MY Papa (Alan) always got jealous, saying “I’m your Papa!” Well, Papa, if you didn’t try to trick me then I would only call you Papa, but I don’t want Marshall to feel bad! Eventually, I learned the differences in their voices. Papa Alan’s voice was more peppy, some say that it had a bit of a stutter to it (I didn’t notice it, but I also didn’t look for that). Papa Marshall’s was smoother, slower, and it had a gentler tone to it. When Papa Alan spoke to you, and you said “I love you,” he would respond “Me too.” He never wanted to admit that, as it always seemed like a goodbye… and he hated goodbyes. Papa Marshall, on the other hand, would say, “I love you. I – love – you.” He wanted you desperately to know how he cared, and he wasn’t afraid to get emotional. My papas complemented each other well. They made each other better. They made us better.
Years ago, we found out that Marshall had been facing health trouble. We immediately worried that if something were to happen to Marshall, what would happen to Alan? After all, they had never been separated for more than hours, thanks to the wonderful nature of phones and long-distance plans. We never in our wildest dreams thought that my papa would be the one to pass away first. When Papa Alan died on July 23 of last year, it was shocking, hurtful, and it brought our worst fears to the surface. What would happen to Marshall without Alan? Thankfully, he had the most wonderful wife ever in my surrogate grandmother Marilyn. That is what they became for all of us at that moment. Marshall and Marilyn (along with Aunt Bev) were our grandparents now. Marshall was our lone Bedol patriarch. He understood how much we depended on him, and I would like to feel that it gave him strength during that immensely difficult time.
Alan and Marshall at one of their many dinners together
Instead of calling Papa Alan, I took it up to call Papa Marshall. Whereas Papa Alan didn’t like to call back all the time, Marshall did – every single time. The last time I talked to him was last Tuesday. I had been having the urge to talk to him. I just wanted to let him know how much I loved him (this was usually the only reason I called- I just wanted him to know). I couldn’t get him on his cell phone or at the house. Finally, I reached Marilyn on her cell phone, where she told me that he had just checked in to the hospital for pneumonia. She put Marshall on the phone for what ended up being our last phone call. He started with his chipper “Hello!” and then I could tell that this had taken a lot out of him, and the rest of his breathing was labored. He told me that they had found a spot on his lung, and it was pneumonia. They were giving him antibiotics and oxygen. I told him that he was in a great place, and they were going to take good care of him. “Papa, I hope that this takes care of everything, and you will be home soon.” His response: “That is the goal.” I wished him lots of rest. He wanted me to call my mom and let her know. We ended our conversations with lots of “I love you”s, and he handed the phone back to Marilyn.
Marshall made it out of the hospital and into physical therapy. He was fine, and he talked to his family a couple of times Sunday morning. While he was at this facility, he started being unresponsive, and the ambulance was called. Marshall did stopped breathing once in the ambulance, but he was alive when he arrived at the hospital. His wife Marilyn and daughter Heidi were at the hospital when he arrived. They touched him and told him they were there and he reacted to their words and touch. He knew he wasn’t alone, and he passed away with them there.
We left on Monday to go up to Cleveland. The funeral was Tuesday. I love the Jewish religion for having such a quick burial. It is immensely difficult at the time to handle all of the details, but it is so therapeutic. We sob, we laugh, we are confused. We bury. Then we grieve for 7 days of “sitting shiva.” When they are direct relatives, we are not allowed to do anything. People bring the family food. We pray. We truly immerse ourselves in our sorrow. Then, we have a modified grieving period for the first month. We can return to work, but we have further limitations. Then the first year, we have other restrictions, but we try to move on with our lives. The hardest is the first 7 days after the burial. I am not officially sitting shiva, so I returned to work on Thursday, but my heart wasn’t truly in it. I wanted to cry on and off all day (as I had the day before). I not only had lost my Papa Alan 6 months earlier, but now the other part of him, the reason why I had not fully let go of my papa – Papa Marshall – was now gone as well.
Marilyn, Marshall, and me at one of my performances
When they lowered Papa Marshall’s matching casket into the ground (right next to Papa Alan’s), there was a strange feeling of peace that came over me. It seemed so right that they were next to each other for eternity. Papa Marshall was home. It doesn’t make it any easier now, but it does help to know that Marshall was able to hold on for 6 months. For 6 months, he was strong for all of us, because he knew that we needed him so much during this period of loss. He was so lost himself, and I hope that he and Papa are handing out Pic n Floss, Lifesavers, and prank calling everyone now.
I want to share the words of those that spoke at his funeral. They are beautiful words that help for us to understand more about the man that I am so lucky to have loved.
From Rabbi Richard A. Block of Temple Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, Ohio:
My grandfather, Hugo, of blessed memory, used to say of people whom he considered truly unique, “When God made you, He destroyed the pattern.” If ever there were someone who merited that compliment, it was Marshall Bedol. Marshall was one of a kind, a true original, someone that nobody who knew him will ever forget because he was simply unforgettable.
Though self-contained inwardly, Marshall was outwardly exuberant and extremely social, forging uniquely deep relationships with others. Marshall’s picture belongs in the dictionary beside the entry “people person.” Irrepressible, idiosyncratic, warm, funny, generous and kind, Marshall loved and respected people, whoever they were and regardless of their station in life. Will Rogers used to say that he never met a man he didn’t like. There may have been people Marshall didn’t like, but they were very few and far between. He found others fascinating, he was eager to hear their personal stories, and to share his stories, and his chochkies. Marshall simply loved stuff, and one way of showing his love for people was to give them stuff. Who among us was not a recipient of Marshall’s goodies, including the piece de resistance, the PickNFloss!? For those who were really special, he’d open the trunk of his car so you could help yourself. The inventory included an astonishing array of things, including gloves, watches, laser pointers, flashlights, and cookies and peanut butter crackers of indeterminate age.
Marshall’s generosity of spirit was not limited to objects. He loved taking care of people. Last night, I found, in my car rental file, four copies of the Hertz Platinum Service form that Marshall gave me, adorned with his handwritten instructions. “When you arrive,” he wrote, “go to the Hertz counter (don’t stand in line) and call out, ‘Platinum.’ They will then give you priority service…When you return the car to the Hertz lot, call out ‘Platinum’ and they will get into car and drive you, in car, to airport.” Not having used it, because I didn’t have the guts, I don’t know if the service merits the term, “Platinum,” but Marshall surely did.
The only car that Marshall didn’t like: the Mercedes that he rented while in California in 2008. He wanted a plainer car, and we joked about it all week.
Alan, Della, and Marshall
Marshall’s story began at E. 55th St. hospital in Cleveland, in 1925, ten minutes before his twin brother, lifelong friend, business partner, and soulmate, Alan, with whom he served in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, along with dear friends, Dominic Visconsi and Bob Mattlin. Marshall and Alan first tried to join the Navy, but when Marshall failed the colorblindness test, even though Alan had passed it, they were both rejected. They then applied to join the ski troops, thinking they wouldn’t see combat, but they did, in Italy, and were awarded the bronze star, given for heroic or meritorious achievement. Curiously, the medals arrived belatedly, long after the war and without explanation, and may have been awarded as part of a Department of Defense review of WWII military records of Jewish service personnel denied medals due to anti-Semitism.
Marshall and Alan
Alan and Marshall during WWII
After the war, Marshall, Alan, and their younger brother, Juddy, entered and built up the company their father had founded, MarshAllan, into a giant manufacturer of promotional and houseware items, including TV trays and charcoal grills. For Marshall, there was no boundary between MarshAllan and his family life. The company was, in effect, an extension of the family, a seven day a week commitment, with work days often beginning as early as 5AM. Marshall knew the name of every employee on the factory floor, the names of their spouses and children and details of their lives. When the Soviet Union finally opened the doors of emigration and hundreds of thousands of Jews left, some of those who came to Cleveland found employment at MarshAllan. It became widely known in the émigré community that if you needed a job, the company would hire you. And many of the newly arrived Jews also found warm hospitality and a good meal at Marilyn and Marshall’s table. Marshall never thought of what he was doing as philanthropy or charity. It was just the right and compassionate and welcoming thing to do. Remarkably, over the years, MarshAllan’s workers voted down numerous attempts to unionize them because they were treated so well. They, too, were members of the Bedol family.
Juddy, Marshall, and Alan
Marshall had a unique gift for friendship. He made new friends everywhere, in an instant, and often kept them for the rest of his life. In addition to Dominic and Bob, Eugene Wallen, and other friends far too numerous to name, Marshall bonded with a group of men who were husbands of Marilyn’s bridge playing friends and they became “the lunch bunch,” getting together every Saturday for many years, a sacrosanct ritual in Marshall’s calendar, and he served as the group’s Secretary. Others of Marshall’s close friends began as customers, such as Mark Glassman, to whom Marshall ultimately became a surrogate father. And once you were a friend of Marshall’s, he befriended your family, too. Marshall became friends with Mark’s mother, Jesse, now 97, and he called her almost daily. And Mark called Marshall every morning at 8. Likewise, the mothers of his kids’ spouses, Judy, Jan, and Mark, became Marshall’s good friends, too.
Some people collect art. Marshall collected people, and he had a much greater tolerance for people’s flaws than most of us. Among his countless friends was Bruce, an inept driver whom a friend of a friend of a friend recommended to shuttle people around during Brian and Judy’s wedding weekend in New Jersey. Bruce’s ineptitude crested when he arranged for two vans, one for passengers and another for their luggage, to go home. Unfortunately, one van went to Newark airport and the other went to La Guardia. This caused several people, including Marshall and Marilyn, to miss their flight. Under those circumstances, most of us would have contemplated homicide. Marshall, however, rewarded Bruce with a gift of PickNFloss.
Marshall never cared about worldly possessions, jewelry or indulgences. The clothes in which he was always beautifully turned out, Marilyn had to buy for him. He would never shop for himself. He had a passion for cars, his only indulgence. He enjoyed a long series of new cars, and took good care of them. For Marshall, his car was like a member of the family. He gave each of the kids a new car at sixteen, which was a very big deal for him and them. He especially enjoyed the year of research and shopping that preceded each purchase.
The Marshall and Marilyn story began in 1952, when they attended a friend’s engagement party. Both were dating others at the time. Marilyn spotted Marshall, who was drop-dead handsome and had something of a reputation as a bon vivant, and told her cousin, Margie Shor, that she wanted to meet him. Margie refused to introduce them, saying “No. He’ll love you and leave you.” But on New Year’s Day 1953, Marshall called Marilyn from the airport, where he had just dropped off his girlfriend, and asked if she’d like to come to his office while he worked! Marilyn politely declined. Three days later, he took her to dinner at Gruber’s, then Cleveland’s foremost restaurant, and they never dated anyone else. Marilyn was drawn to Marshall’s sparkling smile, his good looks, and the fact that he was so nice. There was an eight year age difference between, which made Marshall more appealing to Marilyn and less appealing to her parents, whose initial disapproval made Marshall even more attractive to Marilyn. They were engaged that May and married in August, in the backyard of Marilyn’s family home, with Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver officiating. They enjoyed a caring and devoted marriage, not always easy, but wonderful, of nearly 60 years.
Marshall always supported and often encouraged Marilyn’s community involvements and joined her willingly, if not always enthusiastically, in the cultural pursuits she loves – ballet, orchestra, theaters and movies. It’s a good thing most of those events took place at night, because Marshall loved the sunshine. He liked nothing better than tanning himself and, before it was regarded as dangerous, would do so at every opportunity. He loved being “First Man” when Marilyn served as The Temple’s first female President and, until he began to decline, loved Friday evening services at The Temple. It just doesn’t seem like Shabbat without Marshall and Marilyn sitting in their accustomed seats in the front row.
Family was supremely significant to Marshall. He used to say, “Family is important. Make sure you remember that,” and he would say of people, “They are family. Don’t ever forget that.” The night before their wedding, he told Marilyn that if she ever had problems with her sisters-in-law, she would be the one in trouble. Getting the message, Marilyn worked hard and successfully to build and maintain close relationships within the family, and others did, too.
Marshall adored his family, his beloved Marilyn, their wonderful children, Gregg and wife, Jan, Brian and wife, Judy, Melissa and Heidi and husband, Mark, their phenomenal grandchildren, Samantha, Darrin, Lacy, Hallie, Jack and Sara and their large extended family of siblings, spouses, aunts, uncles and cousins and their extended families. He loved them dearly and would do anything for them. Where their children’s spouses, Judy, Jan, and Mark were concerned, there was no such thing as children “in law.” Marshall embraced them as his own and vice versa. Judy didn’t have a consistent father figure in her life growing up and he filled that role, with just the right touch. They would call and chat frequently and she considers him her father. Jan described Marshall as “the kindest, happiest, most outgoing person.” She remembers how naturally he interacted with the wide variety of people who would join the family for Thanksgiving dinner, how supportive he was, and how comfortable he made others feel. Jan’s dad died before she and Gregg married, and Marshall stepped into that role, too. Mark observes that Marshall made it very easy to be part of the Bedol family and that when he asked someone a question, he genuinely wanted to hear the answer and engage in dialogue. Marshall knew that Mark was interested in sports, so he made sure that a sports event was on TV whenever he came over, even during dinner, a practice that Marilyn tolerated, but has now ended summarily.
Gregg and Brian have happy memories of going down to the MarshAllan factory, traveling with their dad to trade shows and conventions, and driving the forklift, not always safely. Marshall loved to walk the factory with his kids when there was nobody there, showing them all the machines, explaining how everything worked, and telling them how important it was to be careful when they were operating, lest one lose a finger. Their memories of growing up include countless Indians and Browns games, which were essentially endless, since they always left early to beat the traffic. “Let’s watch from back here” was the refrain, and then came the rush to the parking area. Melissa will cherish special one-on one moments with her dad. He was so proud of her graduating from Hiram College and her nursing assistant degree. Heidi was Marshall’s baby. She had him to herself for 5 years after her siblings left home. Her friends loved coming over to the house. Marshall was so happy, friendly, and welcoming, and the candy drawer was a special attraction. Driving Heidi home from gymnastics practice was their special time together, accompanied by two Wendy’s hamburgers.
Marshall was an amazing grandfather. He couldn’t get enough of his grandchildren, wanted to know every detail of their lives, spoke to them often and talked about them proudly and incessantly. Marshall had a tremendous zest for life. Marilyn observes that, “His life was a superlative.” Everything he enjoyed was proclaimed “the best.” This is the best soup I’ve ever had! This is the best hotel in Chicago! This is the best meal I’ve ever eaten! And by the way, if you’re ever in Copenhagen, be sure not pass up the “best” restaurant there, one that Alan recommended to Marshall, the coffee shop at the Copenhagen train station!
Marshall and Marilyn’s oldest grandchild, Samantha, has taken up the best tradition. To her, too, everything is “the best.” Her grandfather reveled in every aspect of her life. Knowing that she and her boyfriend were rabid NY Giants fans, Marshall became one himself.
Darrin recalls their weekly phone calls, and how grateful Marshall was when she returned his calls, saying, “Thanks so much for calling me back,” as if she were doing him a favor. Once, she and a friend stopped off in Cleveland on the way from Chicago to New Jersey, driving her friend’s parents’ car, a much nicer one than she or her friend could have owned. For the next year, Marshall would inquire, “How’s your friend?” and “How’s the car?”
Lacy’s memories include the time Marshall locked his keys in his car and called the police to help. When the officer got the car open, Marshall rewarded him by showing him Twinsburg Twins Fest photos of himself and Alan with other sets of twins. How many of you have seen them? Wasn’t it amazing how all the other sets of twins except for him and Alan were buxom blonds?! Just last month, Marshall moved heaven and earth to obtain tickets to President Obama’s inauguration for Lacy and a friend, and afterwards he wanted to know all about it. When Lacy was admitted to the University of North Carolina, Marshall put in a call to Butch Davis, late of the Browns and then UNC’s football coach, to tell him that Lacy was coming.
Hallie will cherish Marshall’s sense of humor, the shopping expeditions in his car trunk, the candy and cookies he lavished on her, his tanning himself on the back deck, and, whenever she arrived for a visit, his standing next to Alan and asking, “Which of us is your grandfather?” Many of us, I might add, were pleased when Marshall stopped using tanning and hair coloring products. He was so very handsome au natural.
Jack, as Marshall’s sole grandson, and living here, enjoyed a special relationship with him, including weekly outings together to the grocery store and the dollar store. When Jack made it onto to the TV show, Jeopardy, Marshall was sworn to secrecy, but could not contain himself. So when Jack won, Marshall wasn’t told, because everyone knew that he couldn’t keep the secret.
Sarah loved coming over to her grandparents’ house for dinner, especially dessert. She was Marshall’s baby. “Sarah,” he would tell her, “You are so beautiful!”
Marshall spoiled their grandchildren shamelessly. “Just ask Papa.” He never said no. On occasion, when the family was over for dinner, Jack or Sarah would ask if they could have cookies. When Mark said no, moments later, Marshall would ask them, “Would you like cookies?” which he’d top with whipped cream and fudge sauce. Marilyn would say, “Marshall, Mark just said no.” And he would reply, “Oh. Did he?”
Marshall wanted to know where his children and grandchildren were at all times and to make sure that everything was fine with them. Once or twice or three times a week, he would send each of them an envelope full of articles and clippings he thought would be of interest, often accompanied by a $5 bill and blurry Xerox copies of photographs he had taken with a cheap camera and had developed within hours of the taking, at Walgreens. Nothing was more important to Marshall than his grandchildren. Indeed, such was his devotion to them that this lifelong Republican voted for Barak Obama because he believed the president’s election would be best for his grandchildren’s future.
Marshall’s last year, especially the past 7 months, was very difficult. He didn’t want to upset or burden his loved ones or friends with the painful knowledge of his illness. When Alan died in July, such was their extraordinary closeness that Marshall lost the will to fight. He didn’t want to have a birthday without Alan, and now they, and Juddy, are together at last. To the very end, Marshall was immensely grateful to you, Marilyn, for your tender care, and to your children and grandchildren for their constant, steadfast, devotion.
For myself, I will always cherish the memory of Marshall’s sweetness, of many a kiss and hug in the receiving line after Friday night services, and of his radiant smile when I entered his hospital room, without invitation, last week, for what turned out to be our last visit. Like you, I loved and adored Marshall and I will miss him terribly.
Zecher Tsadik livracha. May the memory of this very special man forever be our blessing.
From my cousin Darrin Bedol, Marshall’s granddaughter:
Doing justice in a few minutes to a man who was so loved is very difficult. Instead, I am going to share a few stories that illuminate who he was as a grandfather to me, Samantha, Lacy, Hallie, Jack and Sara. The most important part of that can be summed up in one word: letters. From the time I went to sleepaway camp at 9 years old, I began receiving bi to thrice weekly letters containing pic n’ floss, photocopied pictures of twinsfest, a short note asking about the weather and a very prized $2 dollars. I received a letter like this every week for 13 years, with the addition of $3 more dollars once I was on a college budget. Now, something I have learned over my past 13 years of letter receiving, and this is not to insult any of the other grandparents, is that most people do not receive mail. Not only that, but most people do not receive grip gloves for all of their roommates, flashlights in case of a freak storm in new york, chocolate chip cookies that have no expiration date and clippings of every pertinent article in every paper about Northwestern, UNC or Miami.
We were all taught that we should not place weight on material goods, but the thing about Papa was that his heart and soul were in the objects he could give to others. His grandchildren were not all in Cleveland, so his version of a hug was the comfort that we had pic n’ floss in our cabinet. And when he stopped being able to come visit, he knew that I’d be able to build a piece of furniture wearing grip gloves he sent me… which yes, I really did. While I may never be able to appreciate peanut butter crackers that were crumbs by the time I received them, I will appreciate every single day what those crackers meant. They meant that however many miles away was a grandfather who never stopped thinking about what goodie or treat would put a smile on his grandchildren’s face.
Many of you know Papa as having a cell phone glued to his ear. As the lucky recipient of many of those calls, if I missed one, he would always thank me profusely for calling him back. But in retrospect, what I think all of us really owe him, is a huge thank you for calling us in the first place.
From my cousin Jack Weisman, Marshall’s grandson:
When I was younger, my grandfather, Papa, would take me grocery shopping almost every Sunday morning. I don’t like shopping – I never have; but this was different. This was time with Papa, something that I never got sick of. I suppose it’s because Papa always knew the way into my heart – into everyone’s heart. When we’d go shopping, he’d buy me cookies and donuts, and we’d never have to tell my mother, even though she always knew. I loved to eat as much as any other young child did, and Papa knew that. Papa knew everything about everyone. He loved to make people happy, and he loved when people were happy with him. To him, life was a game, and to win the game, he’d have to accumulate as many friends as possible. Papa won the game. No one ever came close.
Papa was a character, and a great one. He told stories like a professional writer, and he loved to see the smiles on the faces of those around him when he informed them of his adventures and misadventures. Sure, he exaggerated a bit. My favorite of his stories, a tale of an incompetent limousine driver named Bruce who nearly, according to Papa, ruined my uncle’s wedding, seemed to change whenever Papa would tell the story. One week, Bruce was half an hour late, and by the next, he was two hours late. But when I was younger, I never considered these exaggerations. To me, Papa was the embodiment of a life that I wanted to live. Papa had everything – friends, family, and an appreciation of high quality red meat. I didn’t care if Papa exaggerated his life story; to me, he deserved to. He lived to entertain. I don’t know of anyone else who would walk into a rental car garage shouting “Platinum!”, or hand out flashlights and gloves to his daughter’s husband’s cousin’s husband’s mother. Sure, Papa had moments which seemed rather eccentric. But, in actuality, I don’t believe that he was strange at all. He was kind, caring, and thoughtful. He did whatever he could to get people to appreciate him, not so that he’d feel better about himself, but so that he’d have a reason to reciprocate. His stories and his idiosyncrasies made people want to love him, and, in turn, he wanted to love everyone else even more.
I didn’t know Marshall Bedol as long as many of you did, but I know that I’m going to miss him deeply; I already do. I’ll miss eating with him. I’ll miss watching TV with him. I’ll miss his distinctive smell, his loving voice, and his gentle smile that could brighten up the darkest of days. (It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.) I’ll miss the stories that made me truly appreciate my Papa. I’ll miss being with him in public when he’d be swarmed by admirers, allowing me to proudly boast that this man was my grandfather. I’ll miss his perpetual love and warmth, and the joy that he always brought to others. I’ll miss everything about Marshall Bedol, my Papa, my pal. I love you, Papa, but I have to say goodbye.
From my cousin Brian Bedol, Marshall’s son:
A few years ago my parents stayed in our apartment in Florida for the first time. When Judy and I went down a couple weeks after they left, the doorman stopped me on the way in to say how much he enjoyed meeting my parents, paused, and then said “your dad is the nicest man I ever met.” He was.
If you met dad, you never forgot him. When the Indians were in the Playoffs for the first time in Jacobs Field, I came to town for a couple of games and gave my dad tickets. They were pretty good seats. During the game, I noticed my dad talking to the security guard protecting the aisle where baseball commissioner Bud Selig and his wife, sue were sitting. A few seconds later I saw my dad hand a pack of Pic n Floss to the guard and with a smile get waived thru—and next thing I know my dad is shaking hands with the commissioner. And then to my embarrassment, he handed him a crumpled paper bag. After the game, Bud and Sue tracked me down to tell me that the cookies my dad had “baked for them” were the best they’d ever tasted. To this day, every time I see Bud he asks about my dad and tells anyone within listening distance that my dad baked the best cookies he and Sue had ever tasted. I never had the heart to tell him they were from Hough Bakery. That, by the way, my dad would say was the best bakery in the world.
With my dad, everything was the best. His life was filled with superlatives. I can’t count how many times we shared the best meal ever, or heard about how much better his Cadillac was than the Lincoln. Until he got a Lincoln and it was so much better than the Cadillac. Or when he’d reach into his trunk to hand me and Judy the best flashlights, or the best gloves. Or of course, the best dental floss.
It’s only fitting that for a man of superlatives, he was the best. As a father, a grandfather, and a mentor. He not only led a good life, my dad led a meaningful life. Productive. Joyful. Generous. And filled with love. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved his business. He loved politics. He loved volunteering at St. Malachi. He loved life. And he always cared more about others than he did about himself.
During the campaign leading up to the 2008 election, Dad and I had many animated and humorous conversations discussing the relative merits of Obama vs. McCain. And all of you know which side of the aisle he landed on. As the polls were closing my dad called to make sure I had voted—and I jokingly told him that I hoped he had forgotten. He then proudly told me that after the curtain closed he had voted for Obama in honor of my daughters. He knew that’s who they wanted, and cared more about their future than he did himself. That’s the kind of man he was. No matter how strong his convictions, his generosity and love trumped everything else.
Heaven just won the lottery. Dad is not here anymore but he lives on in so many ways.
When we look up at the stars and see some extra sparkles, you’ll know that it’s because my dad has been passing out little flashlights to everyone he meets. And heaven is suddenly a brighter place.
I love you Dad and will miss you every day.
Thank you so much to my incredible family who, in their time of grief, still managed to send me these beautiful pictures and their words. If there is one thing that these Bedol brothers taught us, it is how to love and support each other. We are better for having known and loved them, and I am so lucky that their legacy will continue to live on in us, their children and grandchildren. As I wrote to my cousins after arriving home from the funeral: Many knew Marshall and Alan, but only a few of us could call them “Papa.” We were the lucky ones, and I know how hard it hurts right now. Many more tears are to
come, but we can get through it together.