this one straddles a reality timeline a bit…
…it’s being written in the wee hours of friday morning, and will post in the wee hours of saturday morning, but in the REAL world it will be heard on friday afternoon at a memorial service for JAB’s father. while i never walk in to a funeral with notes, i DO occasionally “pre-write” just to organize my thoughts. so here we go:
standing at pulpit at lockhart first united methodist church, which is the church i grew up in and was also where we held both my mom and maternal grandmother’s service – mom’s was the first eulogy i ever gave in february of 1996
it was a bit over twenty-two years ago i stood here for the first time to talk about somebody we all loved passing away. that time it was my mom, and bd was there. RIGHT there (point at second row). a lot of people don’t know this but he was the one who actually told me she died.
i was in san marcos and came home to a sea of emergency lights…you see, long before lockhart had the iphones and facebook we had police scanners, so a crowd beat me to the house even though i lived there and had no idea what was happening. i walked into my garage to see jim and the fam, and beth just threw her arms around me and hugged me but nobody had said anything yet. i looked over her shoulder at billy don and said, “she’e dead, isn’t she?” and he just looked down and i saw tears…and that’s how i was first told my mom was gone.
i had seen b.d. get teary-eyed before, but usually it was when the cowboys blow the lead in the fourth and he had money on it…but i suppose it’s also acceptable when somebody you love leaves you.
a few years later when beth’s mom passed away i wrote a memorial bit for her on my website that had lots of tongue in cheek humor about booze and smoking that i wasn’t sure if the family would appreciate, but i thought was funny. i got a call from billy don – he said, “shon, you sumbitch, i read what you wrote about gram, and you made me cry”. he then asked me to read it at her memorial, and after i did, asked if i would do the same for him. i said i would, and here i am – because b.d. taught jim and myself that you’re only as good as your word.
now, i almost amended the deal this past summer when i asked b.d. to be a pall bearer at MY funeral because, at that stage, i was convinced he would outlive us all. in my defense, this IS the man who’s life had more false endings than a quentin tarantino movie.
we hung the turkey and pilgrim decorations over the “no food allowed” sign in the hospital waiting room so we could put out a spread when he had an aneurysm around thanksgiving and we ate the meal a seton. we were there when he was in the heart hospital. there were so many, in fact, i think one was free ’cause we’d filled the CTMC punch card.
when jim walked me back to his room this last trip i mumbled, “i gotta make a joke about you telling me he died” and jim told me, in a parental tone he has perfected over the last few years, “NO!”. but i didn’t become the ONE PERSON that was ever formally banned from their household when we were teenagers by listening to these folks, so i walked into his room where there was already beth, and kathi, and monica, and mandy, with a perplexed look on my face. b.d. looked up at me and said, “sean, what’s wrong?” and i replied, “well jim told me i needed to come back and pay my respects and i’m confused why he said that ’cause your’e still alive!”
he started laughing so hard a nurse rushed in because he started choking on his oxygen. she pointed at me and asked him, “is this guy a relative or something?!?” and billy don and i quickly locked eyes and winked and he said, “oh yeah, he’s family!”.
and to me, he was.
and while he may be PHYSICALLY gone, in the hearts and minds of his family, and his friends, and the bulk of this town, he will forever be with us, and we are better people for having had him in our lives.