How did I get here?
I sat at a funeral Saturday listening to family and friends paying tribute to a man’s life and felt uplifted. The man was Ernie.
His wife (before the service) and three children (during) spoke of his impact on their lives. The stories included not only the ones we all hope will be said of us one day – loving, caring, supportive, present – they also recounted important messages they learned from him. Take risks, own your decisions, humor counts, and create boundaries. It was clear these messages were not always easy for those in his life to hear, and yet they learned them over time and valued the reasons they were important.
Ernie always talked about living every day. He taught his children and family and friends what that meant. And he led by example. He knew he was sick for several years and lived, really lived every single day. He did not talk with friends of his illness after the moment they were informed. This was hard on people. And yet it was also easy. How can you not enjoy a friend who is focused on the future, trying new things, and facing it all with the same lessons and humor and dedication to life he always stood for?
His close friend Chas gave the eulogy. His friend of 47 years. His words were beautiful, his voice hypnotizing, his love for his friend apparent. When he was done, I felt I had been with the two of them through the years.
Ernie was a close friend of my father. He lived in one state, my father in another, and I in another country. This meant I met him only twice. And yet, I feel I know him. From the stories during his life my father told me. And from the tribute this week-end.
So how did I come to be sitting in this funeral?
My parents taught me that you just show up. For family, for friends, for work, for teams you join, for your life. You just show up and participate and be a person who can be depended on.
When Ernie’s wife Bev saw my parents walk in, she asked “did you drive 12 hours just for this?”. My father responded “of course”. And she whispered back as she hugged them both “of course”. So there is no surprise that when I got the request to join them, I would also make the trip.
How did I get here? Indeed.