Yesterday, for some reason, I was hit hard with news that two artists that I am a fan of died suddenly before their time. Vince Flynn, a best-selling author, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 47 in St. Paul, Minnesota. James Gandolfini, an Emmy Award winning actor, died of a massive heart attack at the age of 51 in Rome, Italy. I was struck down by the news and I didn’t even know these men. I only knew their work. The most shocking, of course, was that they were so young. I say young, because, well, I’m not far behind. Nothing makes you aware of your mortality like people close to your age dropping dead.
Anyway, I read all the tweets, Facebook statuses, news stories, and such from fans and peers. They all said what great men these two were. They all said how wonderful it was to know them, to work with them, that their lives are forever changed because of them. They were all kind words, full of love, honor, respect, and sadness. And it got me thinking. Why do we save the best for when it’s over? Why don’t we tell the people in our lives how much they mean to us while they are alive?
I’ve done my fair share of eulogies in my lifetime, more than I’d care to do. It’s a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I have a way with words and I’m not afraid of public speaking. However, on the other hand, I’m mourning the loss of someone I loved, as well, and would like to sit and cry, too. Of course, eulogizing someone means that you are highlighting their life, sharing stories, and cheering up the mourning.
Eulogy Tip #14: Always make them laugh.
Anyway, I said some things in a eulogy that I wished I had said while the one in the box was living. Today, I’m going to start doing just that. The following are some people I have the privilege of knowing:
- Tom – He’s my uncle as well as my best friend. We’re only 12 years apart, but sometimes he says he feels like he’s thirty years older. That’s just because he’s getting close to being a senior citizen. He’s the smartest man I know and I am always guaranteed a laugh when around him. Tom is the genuine article. Sometimes, his wit outmatches his compassion, but he has a lot of compassion, so it’s okay. It’s what I like best about him.
- John – He’s my uncle, as well, and he’s a friend. He is the only person I know that has a joke ready at the drop of a dime. Often times, he’ll call me just to tell a joke and they are always funny. Always. How is that possible? His timing is perfect. He is also one of the hardest working men I know. Speaking of compassion, John is the most compassionate man I know, too. On the flip side, he is also one of the biggest and toughest men I know. But no matter how hard he tries, his heart will always be bigger.
- Kathy – She’s my aunt and she’s John’s wife. They are peas in a pod. She makes me laugh just by hearing her laugh. She’s a worry wart, but for some reason she wears it well. Kathy has beautiful eyes that go well with her radiant smile. She likes to speak her mind. Thankfully, her mind is usually filled with kind words.
- Andrea – She’s my aunt. She has the most contagious laugh on the planet. If you are a stand-up comic, you want her in your audience. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can cook a better meal than her. Andrea is also a great dancer. I loved watching her and my Uncle Pete dance. They had a routine! A routine! Who has routines?
- Jim – AKA Buster. He’s my uncle. The man has had a handlebar mustache for over forty years! He’s a good ol’ boy from Alabama and he has a story about anything. He’s done everything, been everywhere, and met everyone. He knows a little bit about everything, which makes him a tad bit dangerous to have around. Jim has heard and told every joke… twice. It’s always a good time when he is around.
That’s it for now. I think I’ll continue this memoriam periodically. There are so many people that have touched my life that it would be unfair to force you to read about them all right now. However, I encourage you to reach out and tell people you love and adore just that. Life comes and it goes much too quickly.