17 March 2014

Reflections on a Life

They're starting early this year....the funerals. 

I took the day off from work today to attend the funeral of a gentleman that I've known for roughly 30 years through the local community theater. Ironically, I met his wife when I was a child, through the library summer reading program. But it was the theater where I had the honor of meeting Deac. I met his daughter and son-in-law and eventually another daughter and son-in-law. I heard stories of their two sons, met one of the daughter-in-laws, and was a guest in their home.

I learned a lot about Deac today...like "Deac" was a nickname, not short for Deacon. He was a bomber pilot in WWII, flying 35 missions over Germany. He sold tools, he was a teacher, he started a scholarship for kids to pursue acting, and he played golf. I know he was a brilliant actor, director, and set designer and one of THE nicest men to ever walk this earth. He always greeted people with a smile and a handshake. He didn't have a cross word for anyone. He was the voice of reason, the voice of experience, the voice that lives inside your head when you know perhaps you should make a different choice. 

He wasn't without a sense of humor. One of the few times I shared the stage with him, he made his entrance and introduced himself as Eugene Spettigue. The character's name was Stephen Spettigue. He made his exit and said with a straight face "I don't even know anyone named Eugene." Those of us backstage almost passed out from laughing. 

Today's service for Deac had its tears but also its laughter...Deac wouldn't want sackcloth and ashes but a joyous celebration, which is what he got. Several family members got up and spoke. My friend Roxie spoke, as a friend of the family and representative of the theater group. Perhaps the highlight was when the grandkids got up and sang "Over the Rainbow." Incredible performance...it was like listening to the Partridge Family or Brady Bunch. Only better!

At the graveside, representatives from the local VFW post provided military honors: the folded American flag, bugler, and 21 gun salute. 

During the reception after, I sat with Rosalee's husband. I was afraid that our talk of funerals and death would be disconcerting but he seemed to hold up well. In addition to Deac's family I saw many theater friends...and I can honestly say that it filled my heart to see so many at the service and reception. 

Deac was a remarkable man. I knew that before today, but I'm more aware of how remarkable now. And so as the sun sets on this day, I reflect about the kind of man I am and the legacy that I want to leave. I am re-inspired.


1 comment:

Stan said...

There are lots of WWII vets that are passing away now it seems. My Dad passed in Jan 2012. The Marine honor guard and the turnout at the cemetery was amazing to me. These guys stood in formation in the pouring rain, There is something special about a military funeral that tugs at the heart. The taps, flag draped coffin and the gun shot salute.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend but I'm glad you had the experience to see and feel how these Vets honor their fallen brothers. Deac sounds like he was a wonderful man. I'm sure he'll be missed.