Friday, October 05, 2007

Passing On

Maine and Nebraska - those are the two states that award their electoral votes by the congressional district instead of the whole state, in case you were still wondering from last week's entry.

Some serious stuff this week. Three recent events dealing with that big ending - death.
ACT I A popular older man from our local congregation passed on last week, I had the assignment to, well, it has to do with clothing and that's as far as I'm going. Sickness had shrunk him down pretty well, but it was still not an easy job. Luckily I had help, and we got through it OK. The funeral wasn't till today, but the crying at the service was pretty healthy, and no one felt John had been cheated in his almost eighty years. We remembered him as a friendly family guy who had conquered smoking, and remade himself as a kind of grandpa-singing cowboy.

ACT II The day after the event described above, I got another call: this one to administer a kind of last rights to a man I didn't know. He was in the ICU, with a variety of conditions closing in. With the same helper, I did my duty. The sad part was that the only person close enough to see him through to the next life was his ex-wife. That's a pretty good sign that he had fouled up in life. He died later the same day, and gets the funeral of last resort from the Navy, in which he had once served. Was he older than me? Oh, yeah, by four years.

ACT III I couldn't make my high school class' 40th reunion. It's not that I don't like them, but in this case it was just too far. I sent $7.00 for a copy of the class directory. It came a few weeks later, and I gave it a cursory look, but then noticed something. Our class salutatorian had died a year and a half ago.
This was sad on many levels. He had been a young man of great promise, and had succeeded, becoming a research scientist specializing in the cure of cancer. He and I had been pretty close, at least through high school. I had helped him with his graduation speech, while he, a numbers guy, had helped me get through a tough high school physics course. I must have played a thousand games of ping pong in his basement. I even remember offering to speak at his funeral at a time when we were both in the bloom of youth. Naturally, he felt the idea was silly.
Now he's a year plus gone, and where was I? Ignorant at the opposite part of this state, more than 2,000 miles from the Mississippi that had been but blocks away. He left a wife and three grown children. It was cancer, the same disease which had killed his father, that got him. He wasn't young, but I'm told he was at the top of his profession. So sad. He really was the best we had to offer the world. I think I'll call his widow.


Anonymous Jake said...

Great post dad. Sounds like you've had a crazy week. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I want to hear more about your high-school years. First I'd ever heard about the ping-pong matches.

Give me a call this week and explain the electoral college process for Maine and Neb.

7:49 AM  

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