With the funeral service of J.P. Parise held on Friday, January 16, 2015, the final public moment of his passing—which took place on January 7—has taken place. The Celebration of Life service was a wonderful way to recognize not only an amazing hockey player but also more importantly an amazing individual. And now that the official responses from the organizations to which Parise had been attached have been shared and the Minnesota Wild—the team his son Zach plays for—have paid their respects, the hard part begins for the Parise family.
During that public mourning phase the family had things to occupy their time. Details of the service and the final resting place had to be attended to. Words of kindness from friends and work associates were acknowledged. However, the world continues at its fast pace, moving beyond this one incident. For the family though, the mourning continues as daily reminders come unbidden in the sight of a cup or the strains of a song or even the sounds at the hockey rink bringing memories of a vivacious Parise to mind. It is hoped that the family will find comfort from these reminders and that, instead of tears stinging their eyes, a grin may tug at their lips for the true legacy this man left behind in every aspect of his life.
The obituary that was published in the Star Tribune on January 11 offers a glimpse into the man his family saw and describes the kind of person that anyone would be proud to call “Dad.”
“The joy and laughter you brought to each day is immeasurable. Picture after picture showing love and tenderness, compassion and kindness, pride and modesty, is a constant reminder that we lost the best man we will ever know. We watched in awe as you treated everyone with respect, dignity, and thoughtfulness, always making sure that the people who surrounded you walked away better people after being with you.”
If Parise had never become a “famous hockey player” his legacy would be as meaningful, but perhaps it is more so because his life in the public eye might easily have changed a weaker man. Parise lost his fight to cancer, but he did not lose his fight of what it means to be a good person and his example has left its permanent mark on his sons.
When son Zach Parise elected not to re-sign with the New Jersey Devils and instead elected to move closer to home and, with his best friend Ryan Suter, sign with the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2012, he had no idea how important that decision would ultimately become.
Because of his decision to move back to where he grew up, he was closer to his father, who at one time captained the Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars). This allowed Parise to be around more and have the opportunity to spend quality time with his father before the end came.
And while it was a nice that Parise chose number 11 on the Wild—the number his father wore when he was on the North Stars—perhaps going forward it will mean even more. For Parise, he will always have a little piece of his father with him out there on the ice when he plays.
For those who enjoyed watching J.P. Parise on the ice or behind the bench, perhaps the best thing you can do to thank this man for the efforts he exerted in his hockey career, the family he raised, and for the many players he helped mold during his years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, is to give a donation is his honor to Defending the Blue Line, a cause that was important to Parise. Through such donations Parise’s involvement in hockey can continue in a lasting tangible legacy.