Thursday, July 15, 2004

Tribute to a Greek God (Epilogue)

The Funeral
The day before his burial, during the two 2-hour viewing periods in which friends were allowed to pay their respects to David at the funeral home, over 500 names were written into the guest book.

Over Five hundred.  Yes, the man was loved.

David’s funeral service was solemn, but upbeat. It was a true celebration of his life. I can’t tell you how many people that I either hardly knew or only knew of, came up to me to say how much they loved and enjoyed my Big Brother. There were certainly a lot of tears, but just as many smiles in the room that day.

I don’t know what the head-count was for the burial service, but I can tell you I’ve never seen, much less been involved with, a string of cars any longer than the procession that led David’s body from the funeral home to the cemetery.

Doin’ the Dew
And at this point I want to apologize in advance lest anyone be offended, but I’ve simply got to share this little aside. I know for absolute certain that David would have found it amusing. Heck, for all I know, he may very well have been laughing his ass off up there in Heaven, watching it all happen.

I don’t know how many of you have been involved in a funeral procession, but if you ever are, I have some advice: Use the freakin’ bathroom before you leave, ‘cuz, honey, there ain’t no pit stops along the way!

That’s right folks, I drank coffee all morning before the funeral service at 10:00 a.m. After the 45-minute service, I forgot to do something before we all left for the cemetery. Nobody told me that it was all the way on the other side of town, or that the procession was going to be 50 cars strong, and that we’d be traveling along at a 10 m.p.h. clip.

I was literally driving with my legs crossed after the first five minutes — and it was gonna be a twenty-minute drive.

Can you say, “yikes.” I thought you could.

Fortunately, the day before we had gone to Burger King — and thank god I was thirsty.

If you’re starting to cringe right about now, it’s okay. Because what I did while driving in my Big Brother’s funeral procession was truly disgusting. My wife was squealing. My kids were howling. And after three days of crying, I don’t know that my family had ever laughed together so hard as we all did at that moment.

And yes, I filled that puppy up — all 32 ounces worth — and didn’t spill a drop either.

When we arrived at the grave site and parked, I casually disposed of the cup in a nearby trashcan. I only hope that some homeless guy didn’t find it later, and think it was a Mountain Dew.

His Gift Keeps On Giving
As I close this story of tribute to my beloved Big Brother, I’d like to say that another one of my brothers deserves a nod as well. Lbro delivered the eulogy at David’s funeral masterfully. Yes, I initially wished that it was me up there, but that was a selfish wish. Lbro summed up David’s life so well in that short speech, I doubt that anyone could have done it better.

I’ll close with a quote from his eulogy that sums up David’s true legacy, one that goes beyond the bonds of brotherhood and family, but one that will last far beyond the time that all of our bones become one with the dust of the ground.

“It was August of 1968 when our Mom died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier that summer, at a memorial service for his brother, a young Edward Kennedy told the nation that Bobby Kennedy should not be idolized more in death than he was in life. I don’t believe those words apply to us today, because in death, David leaves a legacy of life. Yes David, you did make medical history, and you will continue to do so.

“David will be remembered in our lifetime and in future generations as a warrior in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Though he has left this world, he leaves a legacy of hope. Hope that families like ours will no longer worry about the early form of Alzheimer’s that took David from us. Hope that the children of tomorrow will be able to love and learn from aged grandparents throughout their lives. And ultimately that Alzheimer’s will join smallpox as a disease that never again takes away a precious life.

“Thank you for your love and your courage, big brother. We’re all better people because of you. I love you.”

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