Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Being Kind - in Life and in Death

It's been a while since I wrote anything for public consumption, but was inspired this week.  I went to a funeral at church (St. James UMC) for my dentist - Dr. George Gillian - who died suddenly about a week ago at age 80.  He was still practicing dentistry and I think we all expected him to be there for several more years, as he was generally in good health.

It was a lovely service and as I sat near the front of the church, I was reminded of Randy's service in that same place almost seven years ago (in August 2009).  I thought about all the funerals and memorial services I have been to since, as well as before.  Sometimes I've gone because I loved the person who left this earth and sometimes because I loved the people they left behind (Julie Font and I learned this at a young age from our parents), or both. Most were special in their own way and honored the life of someone who mattered in this world - younger, older, churchgoer, life-liver, etc. (I say most, because sometimes the pastor felt compelled to preach hell fire and brimstone - those make me uncomfortable and I don't think they aren't inspiring to many of us).

I attended a memorial service for Ben Fry a few weeks ago - Pastor Greg Schick who did Randy's service, also did Ben's.  I was upset after (not really) as I told Greg that until that time, Randy's had been the coolest service he had done and/or I had attended.  But Ben, who was station manager at KUAR/KLRE had some audio/video footage from church events that was replayed, plus an incredible daughter who spoke and did him right!  I don't think Randy is too upset about it  - he and Ben are probably joshing around in heaven about who had the coolest service, or maybe who is the coolest, in general.  Randy is the person who introduced me to public radio, so I don't think he will give Ben too bad a time!

Attending several services in the last few months has made me contemplative about death and how often we wait until someone passes from this earth to honor them and express our love and appreciation for their impact on our lives.  I wish it were more in our culture to love our neighbor and tell them so!  This is one place where social media rocks as it actually encourages this - I see a lot of those kind of posts.  Of course I also see the opposite, although those are usually from people who don't know the individual, but just need to get all uppity about a thought, belief or idea, especially because they're hiding behind a keyboard of some size.  Yet, aside from social media, I am trying to think about how I can do a better job of life- honoring during life instead of just afterward.  Don't get me wrong - I understand well that honoring someone after their death is very comforting for their family and friends and it needs to happen (so yes, you should go to the service and/or send a card, do whatever you can or more than you think you can).  But if we all worked a bit harder to show our love and appreciation while we are still breathing, it seems like there'd be much more an era of good feelings abounding in this world which might result in all of us doing a better job at loving our neighbor.

So, I am pledging to do just that.  It may be like a random act of kindness - if you appreciate and love on someone, they'll be more likely to pass that along to another person and before long you have a plethora of folks who are smiling and feeling like their lives matter.  We know deep down that we all matter, at least to those closest to us, but I can think of a long list of folks who have made a difference in my life and who I wouldn't want to have lived without knowing.  If you're reading this, you're probably one of them!

And because there's a direct connection, I'm going to name a name.  Shortly after Randy's service, I ended up at Dr. Gillian's for a routine dental checkup and teeth cleaning.  Shirley, who sits at the front desk and generally runs the office, told me that she had gone to get her hair cut on the day of Randy's service.  She said someone named Mark had brought a bottle of champagne in to the salon, saying that he wanted to honor the life of his friend Randy Moore.  I can't remember how Shirley made the connection between Mark Kennedy and Randy Moore and me, but she did.  Otherwise, I would probably have never known what a kind thing Mark did and I would have so hated to miss it, because it made me very happy. I'm pretty sure I've told him that, but because it came to mind again, Mark Kennedy - thank you again for your kindness in honoring the love of my life!  I love you!

There...  it may not be the normal way we go around talking to each other, but it feels pretty darn good to me!  In this somewhat vicious and brutal election year, maybe passing along some love will have a lasting positive impact on all of us.  Will you join me and maybe we can all encourage each other?  Thank you - it matters now!

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