Parting words to William Walaska
On behalf of the Walaska family, thank you to all of you for attending today's celebration of Bill's life.
To Marsha, Billy and Christine, Leslie and Rob, Ann Marie and Danny we offer our deepest sympathies and thank you for sharing Billy with all of us gathered here today.
To Bill's grandchildren, for the love and compassion you have always shown him. Your grandfather always spoke with great pride about all of you, and I hope you know that he will be by your side all the days of your life. As he always said... you have become his crowning glory,
To his grandson Daniel, he would always say what I'm going through is nothing compared to what Daniel has endured these past two years - he was so proud of how you faced the adversity that afflicted you with courage and determination. Daniel...know that your grandfather will always be your angel at your side.
Today, as we gather here to pay our final respects to Billy we are reminded how fragile life is. While Bill left us too soon, he was always grateful for being blessed with many things in this earthly life; a wonderful, devoted wife, his children and grandchildren and so many relatives and friends who cared and loved him deeply.
There are only a handful of people who come into your world and touch your life in a dramatic fashion.
Some people are just flickers of light during your life, while others are constant glows. For me, Billy was my constant glow.
Last Monday when I heard that Billy had succumbed to his illness I simply could not believe it...Billy always seemed to bounce back- but the Lord had other plans for him. But as the realization that our dear friend had passed; it slowly occurred to me that Bill had indeed accomplished so much and had lived his life to the fullest. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "and in the end, it's not the years in a life, it's the life in the years"; isn't that indeed Billy's life?
Knowing that this world is filled with many things; good and bad. Billy, like all of us, loved the life into which he was born, from his humble beginnings on Smith Hill, to a successful businessman in the auto parts business, to then being elected by his peers to be the Senate President Pro Tempore.
But his greatest source of pride was seeing his children and grandchildren grow into kind and compassionate people.
Bill was well loved and he accomplished many things on earth and I'm sure he will do much more in heaven. I will forever be grateful for having known Billy. All the memories we shared will forever be cherished and remembered.
Over the years many good times were had including; Thursday nights at the Oyster bar with his dear friend Tom Casale, our many golf outings (to be truthful some were painful; right Jeff), baseball games at Fenway Park watching his beloved Red Sox, his morning coffee at McCaffrey and McCaffrey law offices where all of the world’s ills were discussed and solved (at least that's what Everett will tell you), to our Super Bowl adventures - I might add that the two Super Bowls we attended together - We Lost (the Packers and Giants games) - that's when we learned that sometimes frick doesn't always frack.
But, like all of us, we know those days are but a fleeting time in the journey of life, a journey toward our encounter with God. Our greatest consolation today is the knowledge that death is not the end, but the beginning of Bill's new life in Christ.
Throughout his life, beginning with his baptism, Bill worked unselfishly, aware that his good works would help bring him closer to Christ and ultimately closer to eternal life.
It is good for all of us to remember from scripture;
"That eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, that it has not entered into our minds what God has prepared for us in heaven."
This is the mystery of our faith and our hope in achieving our eternal reward."
It is this promise of eternal life that helps us say good-bye to Billy, knowing that that same promise is made to each of us.
We know that someday we will be reunited with those we love and that knowledge is the joyful reality of our faith. The church prays in the preface of the mass for the deceased..."Lord for your faithful people life has changed; not ended"
In all the time that Billy was ill he never complained, never questioned his Lord and tried to give hope to others even though he knew his condition was dire.
I often wonder how people in this situation are able to keep their composure and not be angry, but these last few years as I spent many a night with Billy, I realized that to cope and endure, you must have faith like Billy Faith in our Lord, that he has prepared a place for all of us!
As we leave St. Kevin's today to bring our dear friend Billy to his final resting place let us rejoice in a life well lived.
Billy: May the trumpets blare! May the angels from all the corners of the earth come to greet you as you encounter your heavenly reunion with your parents and brother and sister.
Billy, we love you, we will miss you!
You have graced my life and so many others more than you will ever know.
Godspeed, until we meet again. God Bless you all.
Editor’s Note: A close friend, Stephen Alves served in the Rhode Island Senate with William Walaska and delivered this eulogy at his funeral Saturday from St. Kevin Church.