Below is the eulogy I read for Papi’s funeral today:
Papi had a lot of nicknames for me, the Kuwaiti Kid, #2, but my favorite of all the nicknames was Son. I’ve never known my biological father, and Papi always treated me as one of his own. He taught us a lot of important lessons, maybe not in the politically correct way, maybe not in the Saved By The Bell after school special kind of way, but always in the Papi way.
The most important lesson Papi passed on to little Brian, Bobby, and I was to show up, and he led by example. When we needed rides to any one of our random wrestling tournaments, Papi showed up and got us where we needed to go. When Brian and I flipped my car on the drive up to Gaylord and we needed a ride home from the hospital, Papi showed up. Papi showed up for the 5 win 20 loss wrestling seasons just as happy and proud as when he showed up for our 30 win 6 loss seasons.
Papi’s “always show up” attitude rubbed off on us then and is fully a part of us now. There was a reason wrestlers with undefeated records ran away from the mat when little Brian came to town. Even in our worst years, those other wrestlers knew that they were in for a dog fight; even if they beat us, they were going to walk off the mat with a limp that wouldn’t be healing any time soon. There is a reason why we’ve all stayed friends for so long, we show up for each other, through thick and thin, just like Papi did for all of us.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether your in the middle of a 5 win 20 loss season or are riding the high of an undefeated season. The most important thing is that you show up and keep trying. Losing seasons are a part of life. Not even the best of us gets to stay undefeated forever. The only thing that matters is that you suite up, put your foot on the mat, and give them hell. Papi taught us that life, like wrestling, is a team sport. It might not always feel like it, but none of us can win this on our own. Show up for others and they will show up for you.