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Happy Memories Amidst The Sorrow

March 3, 2020

Why do we remember those who passed away? Immediately after they pass away it’s a way to help us cope. We remember to re-experience the good times. We remember to clean up loose ends in our mind. Did we do everything we could for them? Did we do enough? Do we have survivor’s guilt? Do we need to examine why them and not us?

Sometimes we remember so we can make sure those who survive remember. I’ve spoken at my father’s funeral. I also spoke at my uncle’s funeral. I told stories. Some that I knew, some that were told to me. I told them both to honor the men I’d known and loved, but to also make sure their stories, their lives, the men that they were, would not be forgotten.

My father had a best friend, a man closer than a brother could be. His name was Tom. When I was writing the speech to give at my father’s funeral, I asked Tom about stories. He laughed and knowing that I would be speaking in church declined to share some of the more personal ones.

Marc Antony spoke at Julius Caesar’s funeral,

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The bad men do lives after them, while the good is oft interred with their bones
– Julius Caesar Act III, Scene II

The brilliance of Shakespeare is that Antony goes on to give a speech that praises Caesar. His praise is so effusive as to turn the crowd against his murderers.

I’m not that talented a writer, or that great a speech writer. But, we remember so that we can praise. And we praise so that we can remember.

Recently I wrote about a facebook group for people from my high school who have passed away. It’s sad to see so many names of former friends and classmates. And yet, there’s been some happiness too. Stories of classmates, prankes, weddings, kindergarten friendships, big important stories and tiny insignificant stories.

I didn’t remember that Duke Johnson went to our rival high school, North Thurston. I only remembered that he was a kid from our neighborhood. I also attended church with him. Duke was tall for a teenager. Exceptionally tall. In fact, he had a genetic defect that caused him to constantly grow. Duke knew that it would kill him one day. He passed away in high school. He was simply shooting baskets in his driveway.

He was one of the most upbeat kids I ever knew. We gave him a ride home from church one day. We had a four-door Subaru. It was a pretty small car. Duke was in the backseat. As we pulled up to his house, he insisted the person in the front seat move so he could get out.

Duke, it’s a four door car.

No it’s not. Now move.

Really, it is.

Come on, guys. This isn’t funny. Move!

So, we moved. And Duke pried his 6’5″ frame out the front door of a four door car. Duke was wrong, it was kind of funny.

Why do we do it? After all these years, why do we repeat their names? Repeat their stories? Smile at their memories?

Because keeping alive their memories, keeps us connected. Because we do what Shakespeare’s brilliant prose had Antony do although he claimed to be doing the opposite. We remember the good that men do and inter the bad with their bones.

So let it be with. . .all of us.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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