Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I had to wear a suit today :(

A gentleman I've known for over 10 years passed away this weekend; his funeral was today. So I wore a suit to work in anticipation of the funeral. You get these looks from people when you wear a suit. They ask if you have an interview.

"No, a funeral."

Then they wander off because that's hardly a conversation starter. It's weird, actually, but I kind of like funerals. First of all, the person who has passed on is lionized and you hear all about their best moments. In this case it was well deserved. This guy was a normal guy. A normal guy who served in World War II, married in 1945, had a baby-boom daughter and a nice career as a chemical engineer. His marriage lasted 62 years until he died. He received a patent for a mold release agent used in composite materials. After he retired he didn't slow down. He was part of the core of guys that took care of the church building and grounds where I attend church. He helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity. He could have sat on his duff and collected dust, but the "Greatest Generation" guys aren't like that. Toward the end of his life he slowed down just a bit. He still got out though; we'd see him at church with his oxygen tank. At first it was shockingly sad, but after we got used to the O2 tank I came to admire the spirit in him that wouldn't slow down, even when his body did. God bless him.

That brings me back to why I like funerals. You get to review a wonderful life. Most people I know who live to a ripe old age have lived lives you might call wonderful, either for what they accomplished or what they endured. As I've reached middle age, funerals serve as a time of introspection. If that was me, would they be saying genuinely nice things about me, or would they just be charitable for the sake of my widow? Would people cry? Would people miss me? Would people even bother to show up for my funeral?

These are the thoughts that go through my head during the hymns, readings and the eulogy. My answers are not always favorable, but I think such an inspection of the soul is a good thing. You have to know where you fall short before you can work on improvement. The sobering event of a funeral sets the tone for such an examination.

But also, for our minister, a funeral really is a happy time. I can be a gloomy Christian, not quite accepting this whole life after death thing- it's almost too good to be true. But to our pastor, a release of the soul from human flesh to be united with the Almighty is a cause for celebration. He's a good preacher, but he is at his very best at funerals.

So, maybe I'm weird, but I like funerals.


Lori said...

That is really nice, doohickie. A wonderful entry. I'm sorry about your friend's passing. He did seem to live a good, long life. We can only hope to be married for 62 years!

Unknown said...

See, this is why I love obituaries -- good ones, that is. It's always terrible and painful to have a loved one die, but it's also cathartic and wonderful to have an opportunity to talk or read about what made that one person special.

Nice post, good sir.