Dearest Rachel –
I confess, I wasn’t paying attention to everything that was going on surrounding your funeral. It was all either Daniel or I could do to simply hold ourselves together as everything seemed to be falling apart with having lost you.
But Dad noticed, as the staff at church kept people in the visitation line moving; as they had located purple(!) masks for people to wear in your honor; as they arranged the urn, the flowers and everything onstage to look their best; as they cleaned everything up quietly afterwards; as they worked to put together a recording for me to add pictures, music and lyrics to…
…and how they didn’t ask for a penny in return for doing all of it.
In fairness, I understand that it was in tribute to all you had done in serving at church. You had contributed so much, that it was the least that could be done in return.
But normally, it costs money to hold a funeral at a church, just like it does with a wedding (again, not that I’ve experienced – or will experience – that, with no daughter). This was exceptional.
And I’ll be honest, insensitive me would have – once it was pointed out to me – been grateful for the charity, and proceeded on with life as best I could under the circumstances.
But Dad thought the staff deserved better. And he suggested that – since they wouldn’t take money – we bring lunch in to them, as a way of saying ‘thanks.’ And while I’m sorry you won’t be there to enjoy it (among so many other things), I’ve taken the liberty of having Gabutto cater it to them. I’d like to think you would have approved.
Now, I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to actually make any remarks beforehand, but I’ve prepared a little something in any event. I hope you’d approve:
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, I’m not a particularly creative person. I rely for the most part for inspiration from my intellectual betters. Folks like… Groucho Marx, who said “You’re only as old as the woman you feel.”
Thanks to Rachel, I never thought of myself as a fifty-year-old until just recently. I was a twenty-year-old with thirty years’ experience, or at worst, a thirty-year-old with twenty. After all, she was all but a ten-year-old with forty years’ experience, herself.
But lately, I’ve been feeling all of my fifty-two years. So, I should be trying to dispense a little more of the wisdom of the ages, rather than some flippant quip. But the wisest words I can think of with regard to Rachel come from a ‘silly old man’ – which may well describe me pretty well, too, but hear me out.
Most Christmases, the three of us would gather around the television at some point during the season, and watch “A Christmas Carol,” the George C. Scott version. Not sure why that one – his interpretation seemed one of the more relatable, the movie’s theme music is a beautiful melody (and a truly underestimated message), the Ghost of Christmas Present pulls no punches and takes no prisoners – but there is a wonderful scene in the past, as apprentice Ebeneezer is off in some corner with Belle, and his boss, Old Fezziwig, approaches them with some sage advice.
“What a difference it makes, Ebeneezer,” he says, “to travel the rough road of life, with the right female to help bear the burden.” And as he heads off to partner his own wife in the dancing, he calls out “O, what a lucky man I am!”
We would squeeze each others’ shoulder at this scene, or each others’ hands if we were in separate chairs. We knew that we, too, were lucky to have each other.
Although, considering where I am as I’m saying this, I suppose I should say ‘blessed.’
When a man finds a wife, he finds something good. It shows that the Lord is pleased with him. Proverbs 18:22
Even now, as I carry this burden alone, on a rougher patch of road than I thought I would be dealing with for a long time, I know that the Lord was pleased enough with me to allow Rachel to walk with me these few years, and it gratifies me that I am not exaggerating to say how everybody who know her loved her.
Would that it could be said about each of us.
And fellows, you’ve probably heard me say it several times since, but I canNOT emphasize it enough anymore, that silly old man had it right. Consider yourselves lucky to have those you do, and let her know how lucky you realize you are.
There, that’s been said, and I’ve stalled long enough while they’ve prepared everything. I hope you enjoy what Daniel and I have set up as much as we appreciate your generosity in honoring Rachel’s memory. Thank you, and… God bless you, every one.
I have been a lucky man, darling. I only wish it had lasted a little longer.