WINDSOR, Ontario – Losing a parent at a young age is never easy.
But Friday morning, with the casket of her late father stationed in front of the podium that she stood behind, Brogan Probert delivered a very powerful and heartfelt eulogy.
As she spoke about her dad, whom the hockey world -- mainly in Detroit and Chicago -- had adored, many of the estimated 1,000 family, friends and fans openly wept inside the Windsor Christian Fellowship church Friday morning.
Bob Probert was a tough guy on the ice, one who never backed down from a challenge. And his children, now left fatherless since his passing last Monday of an apparent heart attack, showed his same spirit, fight and determination … only in a different manner.
With only a slight quiver in her voice, Brogan recanted stories of growing up a Probert. Not unlike most teenagers, she said there were moments when her dad was “the goofiest, most embarrassing guy ever.” But she – like her siblings Tierney, Jack and Declyn – also knows in her heart how much her dad loved them.
“Even when he wasn’t home, he called,” Brogan said. “A couple of months ago, he was offered $500 to stay in Toronto to play an extra game the next day. So he called us to say goodnight. We told him we loved him very much. A few minutes later, he walked through the door to surprise us. He’d given up the game to be with us.”
Brogan shared stories of her dad once racing a shopping cart down an aisle of a grocery store and of his excited phone call home from Vancouver after he had watched the Olympic gold medal curling match last February.
Probert was also eulogized by his other teenage daughter, Tierney, father-in-law Dan Parkinson, uncle Mike Coady, friend Rick Rogow and former coach Colin Campbell and teammate Steve Yzerman.
But for as composed as Brogan was delivering her eulogy, she cleary understands that more difficult days lie ahead.
“Thinking about the future, I don’t know how on earth I’m supposed to move forward without him in my life,” Brogan said. “He’s going to miss my 16th birthday. He’ll no longer be able to teach me how to drive. Christmas will never be the same without him, and most of all, he’s not going to see us grow up. He won’t be able to walk me down the aisle. My daddy was a great dad, and he always was, and he always will be. I will always love my daddy, he’ll forever be in my heart, and I’ll always be your little girl. Thank you for being the person you were.”
By the time Brogan finished speaking, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.
Afterward, Yzerman, Tampa Bay's general manager, who flew back to the Detroit area to attend Friday’s funeral service, spoke about the strength shown by the children that Bob and his wife, Dani, have raised.
“It’s very touching, and that takes a lot of strength and courage to get up and speak like that under the circumstances,” Yzerman said. “I know Bob would be very proud of them, and Dani should be. They’ve done a good job with those kids.”