|When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
~ Dale Wimbrow
I spent yesterday at a funeral service for a man I adored.
Yes, that’s better. Adore still. I have not stopped.
Although people are often elevated in death, my cousin, Bud was everything we said he was yesterday. He was a mensch in the truest sense of the word. He was warmth and love personified. He was joy; he was light; he was generosity. He was compassion. He was an easy smile, a ready laugh and a song, not just in his heart, but there to share in all its off-key, mangled-lyric glory.
He was the one who made each and every one of us feel special. The one who looked at you with eyes that saw straight through to your soul, and reveled in the goodness he found there. He was funny. God, was he funny. And he was a hero. To his wife, to his children, his grandchildren and to the nation who honored his service by seeing him off beneath her stars and stripes.
My cousin, Mike, Bud’s son (the step- having long since become superfluous) told the congregation yesterday that when Bud was diagnosed with the illness that would take his life, he called him. “Are you scared?” he asked.
“No,” Bud had said, “I don’t have time for that.” He was too busy, he explained, writing his own eulogy for Mike to read when the time came.
Tears flowed as Mike read Bud’s words yesterday. But so too, we laughed. Because even in the midst of the grief, there was no way not to laugh. This was Bud, after all.
“I hope it’s not raining,” Bud had written. And added for good measure, “If I ever offended any of you in any way, I hope you’ll accept my apology.”
I would argue that Bud’s eulogy was not written that day. It was written every day for years. Bud built a life around who he was and in so doing, he touched every person who was lucky enough to come through it.
As we drove home yesterday, I tried to process the day – the heartbreak of loss, the joy in the remembering, the closeness of family. I thought a lot about how we live our lives and the stuff that really matters at the end of the journey. Of all that we’d heard and felt yesterday, there was one line that spoke the loudest. And of course, it came straight from the man himself.
A friend of his told us that she and her husband had gone to visit him last week, just days before he passed. His parting words to them that day? “It’s later than you think. Have fun.”
Bud, I know where you are, there is fun. There’s music and joy and the beloved daughter who you missed so much. Heck, there might even be fish. But whether there are or not, it’s gonna be a great trip. Because it never really was about catching anything anyway.
You were loved. You will be missed. You will always be remembered.