This morning I went to the funeral for a friend from work. We were not close friends but we had worked indirectly together. Over the years we had talked many times and if fate put us together to complete a project, discussions ensued. I’ve heard that he had a massive heart attack and died alone; he leaves behind 3 children and a wife.
Now, how could I have anticipated that this situation would cause me any problem or discomfort?
Well, I should have seen it coming. My group at work helped with some of the funeral service plans and I thought my mind had passed beyond the emotional piece of this day. I arrived at the ceremony about 20 minutes early and sat with a couple friends.
Things were A-OK.
The service started, A-OK.
A couple religious songs were performed and a few close friends spoke.
They showed a montage of photos from different points of his life, things were still sort of A-OK. I had no idea who the people in the photos were; maybe his kids, maybe his family. In hindsight not knowing probably distanced me from my emotions.
All was A-OK.
And then his grown son stepped up to the podium; Things “NOT A-OK”.
If I had not been in the middle of a pew, surrounded by people I probably would have run for it. During the son's portion of the ceremony I had a constant tear-drop sitting in the corner of my eyes and as this very mature son reflected on a life together with his Dad, a ‘mentor among mentors’ it only got worse for me.
Andy was “NOT A-OK”.
I was pleased for the young man. He told everyone that the time with his Dad was great and that it made ‘him-him’. He was proud to be a “mini-me” of his Dad, and like he mentioned the time and life he had with his Dad was a great experience – something to be proud of for the remainder of his life. His description was one of a man, a Dad who was more than I had ever known and I was glad to have had the chance to learn more about the man I had known.
But then I started to consider what-all my Dad means to me and my THOUGHTS developed into my own form of a mentor; a TOR-MENTOR.
“My Dad and I joked with each other, in a manner of outdoing each other” he said, and smiled. This went along with the personality I had known, a guy that was known to joke and was full of quick comebacks.
Whomp! I received a SLAP across my brain as my tor-mentor reminded me of how I joke back-and-forth with my Dad, in a manner that many would consider ‘quick-wit’. But we’ve always seemed to enjoy ‘picking at each other” with a fun relationship.
Held down by social expectations and norms I sat quietly while enduring my monster of memories.
“He was always there for me” the young man said.
PUNCH in the stomach as my thoughts reminded me that I only have 6-9 months of my Dad being here, and that life will change. I held my breath as he continued his proud description of his Dad; but internally it was like my stomach had literally been punched and there was a shortage of oxygen.
During his sharing I actually caught a thought passing my active mind that screamed out, “GO”.
But of course I could not scream and could not get out of the pew without causing a major disruption. I asked myself, “What are you doing here?” Of course the answer was “to be supportive for my friend’s family”.
As the ceremony participants shared memories of our friend and what he meant to them it became apparent that I could not take any more reminiscing.
Not the service participants' comments, but my TOR-MENTOR’s.
As the services ended I took a deep breath, stood up and slowly walked out with everyone else. Calmly I processed and suppressed my emotions, restraining the thoughts and excitement that had been surging inside me - almost tears, and laughter with the crowd; almost tears, and smiles with the crowd.
I talked to only a couple people and went straight to my car, wrote this blog post, cranked the ignition and drove away.
Andy was "Not A-OK."