Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Yesterday, I attended a funeral of the mother of a close friend of mine. She was 95 years old and had lived a long and seemingly happy life. My friend eulogized his mom in a simple and understated manner. He made her appear no more, and certainly no less , than a loving mom , grandmother and great-grandmother. Her life was filled in the small moments. I was struck by the simplicity of the speech and of the things that people remembered and cherished.

Afterwards, my friend and I spoke for a moment. After discussing his loss, my friend said that he had struggled to write the speech, and that it had taken him 3 days to gather his thoughts. He said that he wished that I had written the eulogy for him, as it seemed that it was easy for me to put together what I hoped to impart to others. While I was most grateful for his praise, I told him that I believed his speech needed no editing. However, the comments my friend made did get me to start contemplating the way that I believe people would most hope to be remembered after they have passed on.

I think back to my Dad, who is now gone almost 30 years. Not a day goes by that I don't regret that he is no longer here. I envision life for my Mom, with my Dad right up to the present. I see him involved in the lives of my sister and myself and our families. All my thoughts are of a man focused not on the greatness of himself but only on sharing his goodness with others. It is his goodness, not his greatness, that is implanted in my brain and in my heart.

I believe that my father was a great man in his accomplishments. He was an all- American fencer, a graduate of law school ( first in his class ) at age 21, an extremely intelligent and successful lawyer, and an athlete of note. But accomplishments are only accomplishments. They are not what we are , they are only what we have done.

What made my father a good man was the respect with which he treated life. He did not take his good fortune for granted and seemed to be imbued with the qualities that emanate from one who appreciates that he has given an opportunity to enjoy all the benefits that family and profession provided . There was a modesty about him , and a genuineness in his personna. There was no hint of ego in his manner. There was no bluster and no pretense. My dad had been given many gifts and he understood this.

I felt that my dad treated all others with courtesy and dignity. No one deserved to be looked on as anything but an equal. I believe that this formed a core for him, and allowed me , through his eyes, to see the value in all others. I find myself writing these days about the serendipity of my being given the privileges that I have enjoyed. I know that there but for the grace... It is a lesson I learned from a good and great man.

None of us knows when fortune will shine on us, or when it will turn its eye in another direction. However, as my friend's mom and my dad well knew, the riches we have are ours irrespective of our wealth.


Anonymous said...

I remember your daddy... he was the best! Kisses, Pam

Anonymous said...

I'm finally getting a chance to catch up on some of your musings. After laughing at the fact that your most recent entry was just one day after your announced hiatus, I cried after reading your piece on Dad and your friend's mother's funeral. Wonderful sentiments--and memories.
Much love,
Your sister