Two funerals in one day.
Saying goodbye to two people you’ve known more than half your life wouldn’t be easy no matter when it happened, but two on the same day was tough.
One passing was expected. The other was not.
One service was nearby. The other was not.
I did not want to have to choose one service over the other, but because of the distance between the two and the start times for each, it looked as if I’d have to.
But, at the last minute, the second service was delayed an hour by the family. So, I was able to attend both.
I had never attended two funerals in one day before, but doing so gave me a new perspective. Perspective in regard to how different families commemorate and celebrate the lives of their loved ones, but also perspective regarding two good people who had been part of my life.
I first met Gary about 25 years ago when I worked in the radio business. He worked for a competing radio station. There are few industries more competitive than radio. Especially during its heyday between the 1960s and 90s.
Honestly, in the 80s and 90s it was downright cutthroat. Announcers would do whatever it took to get the best slot on a station. But, Gary was different. Don’t get me wrong, he’d do what it took to win, but he would also do whatever it took to help others win. In an industry that had few nice guys, Gary was a nice guy.
I can’t adequately express to you how rare that was.
Even though he and I never worked at the same station, we shared a lot of the same beliefs. He and I both worked at radio stations that a lot of people listened to, and we weren’t afraid to use them for good.
I knew some of what he’d done because I listened to his radio station. That’s what you did. You listened to your competitors so that you would know what they were doing. In addition to fundraising for charities, Gary single handedly worked with a local business one night to raise $60,000 for a man who was down on his luck.
He also helped another man who was sick and abandoned by his family.
The thing that said mounds about him was his humility. He was always looking for ways to help others, yet he wanted the focus on others, not himself. That also was a rarity in the radio business.
As I left Gary’s service, I thought about how he and I had talked on and off since we left the radio industry, but it was only in the couple of weeks prior to his passing that we had reconnected in a bigger way. He had reached out to me and it was good to talk again.
I don’t think that was a coincidence.
Leaving Gary’s funeral, I trusted Siri to help me drive the backroads to get to Dan’s service. This time, Siri actually got it right. I got there just a few minutes after his celebration of life began.
I met Dan shortly after I moved to East Texas over 30 years ago. Being a radio announcer, I lived on an announcer’s salary, which meant that I drove an old car.
Old cars have carburetors. But there weren’t a lot of mechanics still around then who actually knew how to work on carburetors. I was told that Dan was an excellent mechanic and knew his way around a General Motors Rochester Quadrajet 4-barrel.
I drove my 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Sport Coupe to his shop. He told me that he had become a mechanic in 1957. That was good enough for me.
He fixed my carburetor. He not only fixed it, when I came to pick it up, it had never run better. We instantly bonded.
He stayed my mechanic until not that long ago, when time and illness prevented him from working.
Dan became far more than my mechanic, he became my good friend. He worked on virtually every car I’ve owned over the last three decades, including all of my classic cars, which took a lot of time, attention, and special knowledge.
More than once, he brought his tow truck to rescue myself or a family member from either an accident or engine trouble. He once drove to Houston on a weekend, in the middle of the night to get me when the transmission went out in my minivan on the tollway.
That’s way more than a mechanic. That’s a friend.
Gary and Dan were different, but they both shared something. They both loved The Lord.
At each service, the churches were full of people, but the thing that struck me was how there was far more joy than there were tears.
Both men’s families knew where they were. And they were joyous about it.
So was I.
They both had passed on Easter Sunday. How fitting for two men who were men of faith. And during their lives, both men had gladly talked to others about their faith.
I’m not going to lie, it was a tough day for me. I lost two friends on the same day, and they were buried on the same day. But this day was full of more joy than sadness.
As I drove home from the last service, I said a word of thanks that both of these men had been part of my life. Very different parts of my life, but they shared many of the same qualities, and I am a better person because they were my friends.
Saying goodbye to them was a reminder. A reminder to never delay sharing your faith or your feelings.
For we are not promised tomorrow.
©2018 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon.
Email John at John@TheCountryWriter.com