A eulogy for Tom Magliozzi

Processing the death of radio icon Tom Magliozzi was easy for most of us. We got to remember the Car Talk laugh machine the way he was.

That’s not the case for his family, his son’s eulogy revealed.

Car Talk has posted the eulogy delivered by Tom’s son, Alex, who revealed a little bit of the effect of Alzheimer’s that stripped his family — at least for a while — of the luxury the rest of us enjoyed.

Everyone in my family has spent the last few days trading our favorite quotes from my dad. There are too many to count, but the one that has stood out for me the most since he got sick was his version of an old John Wayne quote – “Life’s hard, but it’s a lot harder… if you’re stupid.”

He loved that quote, because he was anything but stupid. He was probably the smartest, most creative person any of us will ever meet. He clearly appreciated the advantages that brain of his gave him. And that quote drives home just how hard it must have been when his illness took that away from him.

You’re always supposed to say in a eulogy that today is about remembering so-and-so’s life and not focusing on the sadness of how much we are going to miss the person we lost. Everyone knows that. But in this case, I can say it without it being trite; it’s really true.

It’s true of anyone who dies of this terrible disease, where you lose a little of the person you know and love every day, because when they’re gone you’re free to remember them as they were.

But it’s especially true of a guy like my dad, a person who spent 77 years bringing joy to the people he loved, by using that amazing brain of his to make us laugh and think. We, as the ones who loved him, and he, as the one who suffered, are both free now. His suffering is over, which brings us all relief.

But our suffering can start to be over too. We’re free, if we try, to start replacing those fresh memories from the last few years with older ones, memories of the real him. We can start to have the image we have of him when we close our eyes be the one it should be, of him leaning against one of his rustbuckets, with a cheap cigar in one hand, someone’s baby in the other, and a huge smile on his face.

After his dad died, Alex spent the night patrolling the Internet, reading the comments of people who were Car Talk fans.

Not many people have the chance to stay up half the night after their dad dies, reading articles about what he meant to people. I’m lucky that I had all of the Internet helping me sift through memories of my dad over the last few days.

I was struck by a lot of things, but two things really blew me away. The first was that in all of the articles, and the comments attached to those articles, there wasn’t a single bad thing said about him. Not one. There were no controversies, or scandals, or Internet trolls saying good riddance.

Think about how amazing it is that someone can be in the public eye for 40 years, die in an era where the Internet is full of so much negativity, and not have a single bad word show up about him. Among the things I read about my dad, they were all, and I mean all, just fond memories and expressions of gratitude for what he gave the world and sadness that he is gone.

Well done, Internet.

Archive: Tom Magliozzi’s fitting wake.