Four years ago Neal Sweeney died from a gunshot wound to the head in a murder for hire plot.
Here is what his oldest daughter Lisa wrote:
“Well Dad, I can’t believe its been 4 years since I held your hand for the last time. I remember asking you for strength so that I could walk away and let you go. I felt your presence at that very moment and I touched your face and felt your breath and said I would see you soon.Your heartbeat was strong as it had always been and I memorized the pattern of the beats and it soothed me. I soaked in the very essence of you, your spirit may have been leaving but it was not gone and I felt it encompass every ounce of my soul. I remember thinking how still you were and in my whole life you were always moving, always giving and so I had to take in every freckle( you were such a sun worshipper, lol), every vein. It was both sad and spiritual all rolled into one . But then it was time and I knew I had to be brave and step away to let you go and do miraculous things with your Father. I knew nana and gaga and grandma Helen and grandpa Neal and aunt Judy were by your side telling you that you were in for the ride of your life. Your faith never wavered so you went on to things that I can only imagine but hope to experience with you some day. Love you sweet daddy, we will catch up soon. I look forward to your little signs that you are forever with me and no I will never delete your number from my phone for that very reason. Love you always and in all ways…”
I remember hearing the news and I sat down with my hand over my mouth…totally disbelieving what I had heard. Who on earth would kill Neal? Neal was only second to my father in men that I admire and respect the most. He was kind, and loving, and giving, and faithful, and would always help out anyone that needed it.
I remember thinking that I was grateful my parent’s had died before him as this news would break their hearts.
I could still see Neal dressed in his running gear sitting on the ottoman at my Dad’s chair talking about football and business when Daddy was so terribly and terminally ill. Neal was like that…he would run or be out and about and if my parent’s neighborhood he would stop in to see my parents…to have a cup of coffee and talk.
He made such a tremendous impact in my life. He was the first man I was sure I was in love with from the age of 3…until, well when he married Jan when I was 6 and had to give him up to her. But he always remained a part of our family, including Jan and the girls.
He never stopped being a real person, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, friend. He always had a big hug for me and not one of those half-assed kind, a full-blown big squeezing hug and a kiss and words of encouragement and love.
At my Mom’s funeral, right before we were talking the casket up the aisle to the altar, Neal stopped me and told me to make sure in my Eulogy that I told everyone how much my Mom and Dad did for the athletes at TU. He made me promise I would tell everyone what a positive influence my parents were by opening their home to these guys.
Neal, to you, tonight I will toast you with fine bourbon as I hope you are doing up there with my Dad.
Thank you for loving me for over 40 years and showing me how real men love and care.