Pearl of a Pal
A call in the night.
Just after 3:00 AM my phone rang in the tiny Barcelona hotel where I’m staying. It was Gail. The phone announced her name as I blundered to the desk trying to find it in the dark. She was calling to check with me on some information to put in her husband Lew’s obituary.
I knew he was gone.
I had checked in a couple days ago just to see how he was doing. That’s when she e-mailed about his passing. Because we had exchanged e-mails she thought I was back in the states. Of course, there is nine hour time difference between the west coast of the USA and Spain.
Summary of a life
Obituaries are kind of formal things. They include whether or not you were an armed services veteran, the branch you served in and possibly the wars and campaigns you fought in. Lew was a PR desk jockey for the Air Force in the Vietnam era.
There may be a brief note about the company or companies where you worked. We met when he was the Marketing Director for the Port of Portland. Later we consulted together.
The boards you served on both private and public are usually included. The two I recall him from are a Credit Union and as the President of the Advertising Golf Association.
Your survivors get a mention
He was the father of a son and daughter. I know the son, Tony, well, and was a guest at his third wedding a few months ago. The daughter, because she lives in Texas is a stranger to me. I’ve lost track of Tony’s slew of kids by his two previous marriages. I see them so infrequently I need an introduction each time we cross paths at a holiday gathering.
What is written is not what matters
The tradition in my little corner of the world is to allow any and all to speak of their deceased friend at the church be it a funeral or a memorial service. That’s where all the positive notes about come out. Later if there is what the Irish call a wake (which takes place in in a home or barroom) some of the shenanigans the departed engaged in will be shared and reminisced upon.
The last hurrah
Two weeks before I departed on this trip Lew’s family and
friends gathered to celebrate his birthday. The house was full. He lorded over the crowd from his favorite chair in the living room. He joked that there was only one
candle on the cake as he feared the Fire department couldn’t be on standby if they put one on for each year he "had been hangin" around."
Neighbors spoke of his helpfulness. Professional associates went on about how he was friendly but firm. Those of us that knew him from the golf course remembered how he taught some errant members of the club about honesty and integrity. His grandchildren, to a one, honored him with obvious respect. Even his visiting nurse joined in the celebration.
He was a pearl of a pal
I will be home in time for the memorial service and for the wake if there is one.
I will speak at the service. It will be along these lines:
Each of us as we go through life connect with people. Each jewel of a connection is like a pearl. Each is different. Each of us gathers layer after layer of memories. Each accretes experience like no other.
If we are lucky, we gather a group of them to us, enough to form a string.
But within your string of pearls there may be one that stands out above the others.
For me that was Lew. He was a pearl of a pal.
And so it goes
Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com
His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.