July 9, 2023

Lauren Galli

Galli Gripes: Three Lessons I Learned From My Dad

Tribute to Dad

I will warn you now — this is not going to be my traditional gripe. This blog post comes from the gut-wrenching and unabashed pain of devastating loss. This is my catharsis.

About My Dad

I met Chris (my Dad) when I was 21 years old and already an “adult.” I knew instantly he was the man my mom had been searching for her entire life. What I didn’t know — but soon learned — is that he also was the father I needed to turn me into a real adult.

Chris was an incredible force of nature and a genuinely good person. In 2020, shortly after he and my mom retired, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He went through multiple surgeries and 12 rounds of chemotherapy in hopes of saving his life. But in the end, none of the procedures were successful. On May 31, 2023, he succumbed to his illness and left an incredible hole in our family.

Chris was practical to the very end, so most of the posthumous decisions were made, making things a little less complicated for my mom and me. However, a month later, the loss of him still hurts like hell. I wallowed in my grief for a couple of weeks and then I started to think about all the lessons I learned from Chris. Believe me, they are plentiful, but here are the top three.

Three Ways to Live Like Chris

1. Be Frugal, But Spend Money On Quality

Chris wasn’t cheap; he was frugal. He wore clothes from Kohl’s and Target around the house and khakis to work. He did not drive a luxury car, he saved for retirement diligently, and he and my mom were not real-estate poor. Everything they spent money on was carefully contained within the budget he created. He was sensible, but also he knew the importance of quality items. His dress shirts were tailored for him, he loved a lavish vacation, and more than anything, he would drop some serious coin on damn good food.

That was Chris in a nutshell; spend money when you know it is going to be worth it, but buy your Dockers khakis from JCPenney or Kohl’s.

2. Work Hard, Play Harder

Chris loved to take incredible journeys. He once sang with a choir at St. Francis of Assisi and all over Italy, he walked the pathway of The Great Wall of China, and he trekked all over New England on several occasions. He definitely knew how to play properly — because he knew how to work properly as well.

Chris instilled in me a work ethic. He taught me to put myself into my work, but also stressed leaving work at work. He worked hard at home, too. He always found something to keep him occupied — whether massive amounts of yard work or one of his gorgeous woodworking projects. Chris enjoyed buckling down and accomplishing a task, and he looked forward to the reward of a nice cigar and a glass of good whiskey.

3. Be Stoic, Be Brave, and Be Dignified

From the moment of his diagnosis and until the very end, there was never a minute that Chris felt sorry for himself. He never asked why this was happening to him. He never complained about the amount of pain he was in. He called the pastor of his church and arranged his own funeral service with her, down to the songs he wanted us to sing! There was a moment (when we knew the end was near) when he asked us to help him change into a nicer shirt in anticipation of a visit from his incredible doctor.

Every person who encountered Chris in life and during the course of his illness was amazed by his stoicism. He never lost the smile from his face, and he kept on with his woodworking until his hands no longer allowed him to. And even in his last week of life, he was out in the garden helping my mom plant some new flowers.

Worth the Wait and Forever Loved

When you’re 21 and your mom marries someone new, you don’t usually have high hopes for a significant father-daughter relationship. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones. Chris never called me his stepdaughter…he saw me as his own. He provided sage advice when I needed it, bailed me out of a tough situation (on more than one occasion), and was always there with an amazing one-liner when I needed cheering up. That is just who he was.

I don’t know if this hole in my heart will ever mend, but I am hoping the grief fades and I hurt less as I seek comfort in my amazing treasure trove of memories of Chris. For now though, I plan to focus on what I have learned from my incredible Dad and try to heal.

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4 comments on “Galli Gripes: Three Lessons I Learned From My Dad”

  1. My heart aches everyday for the pain you and your mom are going through. I’ll keep praying for comfort and peace for both of you.
    I only knew Chris for such a short time, but his funeral and your words conveyed the incredible man he was. And the man you and your mom deserved. Grief never goes away, but you learn to live with the memories. Love you both.

  2. Hi Lauren,
    What beautiful words. Remember that great grief is a sign that you loved and were loved extravagantly ❤️. Praying for you and your precious mom.

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