A Real Eulogy
Last April, I wrote a blog about eulogies at funerals and how it is the accepted norm to make the dead look larger than life. Read here. Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a good friend and community stalwart. His funeral was well attended as he had touched the lives of many. The Eulogies and speeches were of the same tone. They painted a picture of a great friend, a champion of the people, a great community man who loved his country and his roots. Then it was his son’s turn.
To the amazement and maybe disapproval of many, the son did not follow funeral protocol. He started out by saying his dad was a bad dad. It’s like mice crashing a cat’s party. How dare this brash young man hijack this party? Yes, he’s the son and has authority but he can’t speak of the dead like this! It’s rude and uncouth and just plain wrong! He’s sullying the name of his father. This is definitely not the time nor place for this kind of talk. I heard debates like this.
It was one of the best and genuine eulogies that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. I clung to every word this young man was saying. He unwrapped a side of his dad that many in the congregation never saw. It was an unwrapping like no other. He spoke of barely knowing his dad because of a divorce and growing up thinking that not only would he not shed a tear when he dies but would not attend his funeral. He shared how he came to terms with what his dad did and was able to forgive him.
This brave young man did not mince his words. He gave a son’s view of his dad. How could my dad be ‘The People’s Champion’ and ‘Man of The People’, but couldn’t be my father? He asked himself this time and time again. How could he leave us behind and go and help others? It just didn’t make sense. The answer did come to him and with it came strength. It was well written and presented.
His Dad would have been proud of this son who showed that he has inherited his penchant for speaking his mind. At the end of the service, I overheard various debates on the suitability of his eulogy.
To the young man, you could not have chosen a better time. You did not sully the reputation that your father had, you enhanced it. You explained the situation that tossed your father into a path that he was not ready to take and how he made the unpopular choice that he made, thus you made his legacy that much more meaningful. A bad man didn’t die. A man who turned his own weaknesses and failures into strength did. A man who didn’t have the tools to be a Dad, had the tools to be comrade, a friend, a voice, a mover and a shaker.
The understanding and strength you showed to forgive your dad was the beginning of a maturity that many of us lack. Your eulogy was not controversial, it was revealing. It was not unsuitable, it was necessary. It was relevant. All can see that your dad’s memory and legacy is alive and well within you. My condolences to you and your family and may your dad’s soul finally find rest.