While sitting and deliberating about what type of biography I would want to write about my father, it dawned on me that I could share the speech that I wrote for his funeral on July 16, 2013. To this day, I have never shared it publically since I read it at the funeral. I feel it describes our father, my mom's husband, my Uncle Mike & Uncle Gary's brother perfectly.
Sheldon, (Shelley), Mark Gallner
Born: May 14, 1949 Passed Away: July 12, 2013
Funeral: July 16, 2013
How do you talk, in such a short amount of time, about someone who meant everything - so much that you hardly feel you can breathe without him? My dad played such an important role in not only my life, my family’s life, but in so many other people’s lives as well. He could list any client's name and tell you about their case - he cared that much about his clients, that he never forgot anyone.
Witnessing first hand, while he and I worked together, there was never a time when he did not recognize a current - or former client’s face. That is how much he genuinely cared about his clients. Practicing law wasn’t just a career, it was his passion. When he initially became ill, his first question was, “When can I go back to work?.” The office meant so much to him because he did not want to let anyone down. Up until his final days, he still wanted to go to work, or work from home.
His passion for working - and his compassion for his staff and clients, doesn’t begin to describe how much he cared for our family. From the time I was little, there was never a time that he wouldn’t come to our assistance if we needed him. He would immediately want to do everything possible to fix our problems. His main concern in life was making sure his family knew that through thick and thin, he was there for us.
There were many times I initially should have taken his advice, but like any child, I didn’t. No matter how bad the mistakes were that I made, - half the time I was so scared to tell him, but in the end, he didn’t care as long as I was okay and happy. His main priority in life was making sure mom, Spencer, and I were happy.
My friends used to say how intimidating he was when they first met him. After they got to know him, they realized he looked a lot more intimidating than he actually was. At heart, he was truly a loving husband, father, son, brother, and friend.
He LOVED giving us hugs. During the last 8 months, not a single day went by that we didn’t express our love to each other. Classic “Shelley” line: During his final hospital stay earlier last week, I said “I love you daddy,” many times while I was sitting there holding his hand. His response was, “I know, you don't have to say it fifty times.” I probably inundated him with saying, “I love you,” during the last few months, because until he was diagnosed with cancer, I took life for granted. I didn’t appreciate the little moments between my family and me. Those are the most important moments - not the big grand gestures - that people often times tend to remember the most.
My dad, Sheldon Gallner, was such a selfless person. He never once asked, “Why me?” Every time he had to have surgery in the past 8 months, or was in the hospital, he had such a strong will to live the he never gave up. He kept telling us he would beat this. He truly believed that he would win the battle up until the end. In a way, he did win that battle because now, his suffering is over, and he is at peace.
He is a true hero in my eyes. I know his spirit will be with me and my family, even though we may not see him, for the rest of our lives. The way he lived his life has given me quite the task to try and live up to the type of person that he was. My dad meant the world to me, and our love for each other was huge. One of the final things he said to me on Friday night an hour before he died was, “I love you so much.” I will never forget those words. I am so glad that I got the chance to hear him say it one last time. He will forever be in my heart, and in my family’s heart. He will never be forgotten.