Been quite a start to the New Year around the old homestead. I wrote Wednesday past of the passing of an old acquaintance from high school. Yesterday brought news of the death of the brother of a close friend I lost in the spring of ’17 and the death of a good friend. Though almost never called upon to do so publicly, when good friends pass I eulogize them for my files. It is simply a means to encapsulate the memory of them.
I struggled last night to write of the good friend I lost yesterday. The most remarkable event of his life was his enduring and survival of the incredibly massive 1964 Alaska earthquake as he was stationed there during his youthful, but otherwise quite ordinary, military service. He was born, baptized and died in the same church. Went there his entire life and served in just about every lay office the church had – which is how we became friends, we served on Nominating Committee together more than 20 years ago. I am two churches later, but not my friend. This guy was steady-as-she-goes, no-frills.
He and his wife were childless, and while we never discussed it they served as in inspiration for my wife and I who find ourselves similarly situated. But he was a school teacher, and bus driver in the summer. He leaves behind many generations of lives improved by his service. Within hours of his passing my wife and I heard from friends, now residing elsewhere, who remembered his service to their children asking us to pass on their love to his extended family.
There is no “hook” into my friend’s life – nothing spectacular to grab a hold of and build the eulogy around. But then I think about the two paragraphs above and so much more and it occurs to me….
My friend was simply a good man that lead a good life. That is actually quite spectacular and exceedingly rare. As I reflected on it, it occurred to me that I have never, ever heard anyone utter a disparaging syllable about my friend. I know no one can say that about me.
The more I think about it, the more I think that such lives are what really make America great. The best the politicians can do is set the good people loose to lead their good lives. But my friend, well he did not care about politics all that much, he just got about being a good man regardless of who was in office. Everyone that knew him was better for the relationship.
In the end I can think of no better eulogy than to try and live up to his example and to encourage others to do so as well. I have no doubt that the audience of this blog, generally quite accomplished and most far better writers than I, will find this post unoriginal and derivative. It probably is – but every single word of it is true and that is what matters most.
As we argue endlessly about “making America great again,” may I humbly suggest that we simply get about being good. That, more than anything else will make America great again.