We head to another funeral tomorrow. This time for a young cousin, a nurse taken swiftly by cancer. Between Dawn’s musical talents needed for funerals and the funerals of friends and relatives, over-population seems the remotest of worries. We look back on these losses and are assured they did not become more valued just because we now miss them so.
At Dad’s funeral three years ago, his business partner did such a grand job painting his memory that the preacher forgot I had prepared a little speech myself. I was nervous as all-get-out and relieved, yet disappointed. But on scrolling through my documents list I found it and thought it might lend some guidance to us today. I’m not so nervous now:
I consider myself to be a radical and a gentleman because of my dad.
I let ladies go first, stand when they enter a room and take off my hat indoors. People think it’s refreshing and quaint.
The radicalness he gave me, even makes me hate suits and ties. So I still rebel against him in a harmless sort of way. I don’t think he cared so much because he really was a ‘live and let live’ sort of guy.
He taught me to not ignore possibilities. The stories of the poor folks he helped save for retirement, thanked him years later. He worked for free and without permission at a gas station until he was hired. I was a lousy athlete so he taught me golf and it taught me to accept failure and go on. And also to value those exceptional moments.
I respect myself and so I respect others because of the example of Dad. Whenever we were together in public, he always treated others as equals. He went out of his way to treat others better than he expected from them.
Even in the years after my parents’ divorce, when I was angry at him, he was always there in spirit, being a positive influence. I’d go out of my way to help a stranger, thinking it would please him. I’d correct a cashier if she gave me too much change, because he told me never to lie.
He explained, “If you lie once, you’ll have to lie one hundred times to cover it. And no one can do that.” In that lesson, he taught me it is practical to be moral. They don’t conflict.
He’s gotten me in trouble because of that. I can be brutally honest. But the short term pain, yields long term gain in greater understanding between people.
He was no fighter. He often called himself a coward. But I think he had a positive definition of coward. His kind of coward is careful to stay out of trouble. To not be a coward is reckless. And to be reckless puts a burden on those around us. He felt he was a burden in those final days and as much as I hate it…that is why it is good he is gone.
I am so grateful I became best friends with my dad. He is greatly responsible for the external joy that I find every day in my relationships with family, friends and strangers.