Funerals and Memorials, pt. 3

Funerals and Memorials, pt. 3

For part of my family, and I’ve borrowed this term because it fits, certain events are State Occasions. There is a pomposity and flourish required; decorum must be preserved. My memories are different, and I subscribe to an alien set of beliefs, but then again, that’s just me (and mine alone). No negative vibes towards family — they made us what we are.

There are several poignant memories, one that sticks out, this uncle was a charismatic speaker. For my grandfather’s funeral, I recall, the packed house at the 1st Presbyterian Church, I watched as my uncle stepped up to the microphone, and for a brief moment, looking out, a smile flashed across his face, and I thought I heard him think, “Always open with a joke.” The somber audience, and purpose of the gathering might squelch that, but yes, he was always pervasive public speaker. He could also read the room.

Family lore is that he got in trouble for pursuing a degree in “Communication” instead of science or engineering, or a doctor, like his brother. Led to a DJ gig on the radio, and that really opened up as he was the first local reporters to call in a news alert when Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Legend has it, my uncle walked right past the shooter who was rushing out while my uncle was rushing in to find a pay phone and report the news.

There are layers and layers of myth on top of fact owing to Southern Raconteur Roots?

Sure, there is that.

It’s family.

Funerals and Memorials, pt. 3

There’s another memory, perhaps from the same time, maybe from a different occasion, I’m not sure. Both brothers were still alive and obviously fit. They went for a jog together, or a run, I’m not sure. While I’m a walker, I don’t run unless something is definitely chasing me, and even then, if there’s no way to defend myself, then I’ll run. Having been a runner earlier in life, I understand the dynamic and the appeal, but I don’t participate unless, like I said, I’m being chased.

Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier

I just recall, a living room and the two brothers, suited up in shorts and t-shirts, one with super-high-tech running shoes, and the other with a slightly sloppy, well-used pair of trainers, and they were gone, for a few miles, or something. The only time I saw them bonding like that. It did exist, and that was then. Both brothers are now gone.

The last couple family gatherings, as he’s been hospitalized or heavy sedated, I don’t know what, but he wasn’t the vibrant electric, charismatic individual who said grace, replacing his father as the main pipeline to the almighty in prayer, at Sunday’s big family supper. Nice, baritone, stentorian in essence and carriage, plus covered all the bases with the prayers. Short but not too short.

I’ve skipped actually seeing him, the last time, as what I want to remember is the guy with the flashy running shoes, going for a run with his older brother, on warm afternoon in Texas. Or that speaker, quick with a quip and joke — playing the audience like an orchestra.

Funerals and Memorials, pt. 3

There is one other memory, from decades past, and I was floating through his office, while he was composing a speech, a press release, or something similar. He had an IBM Selectric, and he was quickly hammering out, two-finger style, some pretty prose.

That IBM was his tool of choice, on actual paper.


Plain and simple, we use, what tools work, and what tools work for us. Rumor, and some detritus, suggests that manuscripts were done on paper and corrected with pen and ink, then retyped, as corrected. What’s leftover, these days? ARC, Advance Reading Copies that still have a typo or two.

My respect is for working with what works. When everyone else was graduating to computers and enjoy that kind of new-found freedom, my uncle was always freest when he worked in his favored medium.

I recall his admin at the time, “He types it out and I scan it into the computer to use it.”

Funerals and Memorials, pt. 3

Funerals and Memorials, pt. 2

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