I said goodbye to a friend Saturday, at least in a matter of speaking.  Vin died earlier, but we held his service then.  In many ways, I think we’d been saying goodbye for some time.  He’d been dealing with some kind of dementia.  Dealing well — it wasn’t obvious at first.  And he was an interesting and caring man, even as he faded.  Then his wife, Goldie, his anchor, died.  And he was a bit more adrift.  And he had health problems, which wiped him out physically.  So we watched him fade both mentally and physically.  I think it was hardest on his daughter.  It was an ugly process.  Death, when it came, was a release for all of us, including Vin.

But I find myself wanting to honor his life.  He raised his family.  He served his country.  He traveled the world, sorting out production problems for his company, and meeting and understanding and caring for people.  He understood racism.  He knew it was a festering evil (though I don’t believe he’d ever use those words).  And he shared his experiences and wisdom.  He was solid and unassuming.  As far as I can tell, he was good at all the things he did.  I found him to be a blessing in my life.  It was incredibly sad to see him failing physically and mentally before he died.  It was an honor and a privilege to know him.

I don’t think I’m saying all this very well.  But there was real value in his life.  What he did made a real difference in many people’s lives.  And it would be enough, I think, simply that he had lived.

I happen to believe that he lives a new life, whole and complete again, with the God who loves him.  And I imagine him with his beloved Goldie.  Our burial office takes its meaning from Easter, from Jesus’ death and resurrection.  My sorrow (and even anger) at his death (and how he lost so much before he died) is real.  But I really do take solace from the fact that I believe he is now safely in God’s hands.

Simply, I find myself wanting to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Fare well.

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