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This morning I went to a funeral of a woman I hardly knew. Her son is my best friend and one of the most honorable men I know. I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit for him and it was certainly no burden to take the time today to pay respects to the good woman that raised him.
His mom was 89 and had outlived her friends and her long-ago co-workers. That left just the immediate family, my wife and I, and two other acquaintances. In a world where thousands show up for the funerals of assorted thugs and criminals, Mrs. T was remanded to God with very little notice. It was a scene that is probably played out thousands of times per day: Quiet, dignified goodbyes for quiet, dignified people.
When you’re young, life can be a fun celebration. Weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, maybe some b’nei mitzvah and annual Christmas parties. As you get older you start to mark fewer beginnings and instead mark more closings. Graduations mean children are leaving, retirement parties mean leaving a life’s work behind, and then there’s more of the rituals of today, farewells of the very final kind.
I’ve always viewed my own potential demise as a huge event. I figured hundreds would show, half to court the widow and the other half would show up just to make sure I was really dead.
I’m pretty sure the former will happen because I’ve known for close to 30 years now that I out-kicked my coverage on the wife. I’m a bit worried about the latter as I’m afraid I haven’t nearly pissed off the number of people I once thought I did. Hopefully I have enough time left to meet my quota.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Mrs. T’s son is a doctor and will go do his regular shift tonight, helping other families cope with their anxieties and maybe even their grief, just as he bore his own grief this hot, humid day in Northeast Ohio.
Here’s to all the quiet, dignified people saying their quiet, dignified goodbyes. Truth be told, it’s the only way to go.Published in