An Old Man’s Eulogy


An old friend of mine is slowly dying. I have to write the eulogy. It’s a rough draft but here’s what I have, so far:

In recent years we weren’t as close as we used to be but that doesn’t mean the memories are gone. I will always have those. Your youthful cleverness and persistence somehow seemed more beneficial and respectable back in the day. As if the world just stood there, waiting for you to make your mark, to take your best shot. And I was a witness to your plans and visions. I could almost see your dreams as clearly as you did. I still don’t know who was more saddened when the dreams died – you or I.

It is customary for the eulogy-giver to gratuitously compliment the deceased. I’ve heard that some people just make things up, presumably from a lack of compliments. At least it’s not from a lack of imagination. You were certainly big on imagination. But you, well you were one more likely to stretch a truth, exaggerate a tale, or whitewash a falsehood until it shined. But we knew each other for a very long time, so I won’t return the favor, even now.

As much as I loved you over the years, you were sometimes a cold-hearted creature. Truth be told, your self-centeredness was difficult for most people to abide for long, including me. That doesn’t mean you weren’t loved. Oh, no sir – you were definitely loved! And by so many! In spite of the things you said and did, people loved you. My fondest memories of you are the times you captured their attention with a smile, a joke, a moment of compassion, a shared tenderness, an act of love. It wasn’t often enough but it was a treasure to see.

Yes sir, you had some moments. Of course you weren’t all bad. I don’t believe anyone could be all bad. But your enthusiasm for bad choices always puzzled me. It was occasionally entertaining to watch but I never could grasp why it so strongly appealed to you. Just plain selfishness, I guess. I’ve heard some people call it narcissism. I might call it that too if I didn’t have to look up how to spell it. Besides, you always hated labels.

There were many joyous moments, much laughter, copious tears, and too many of those miserable brooding seasons. I must admit there seemed so much of you that you never shared with me. Or anyone, for that matter. You never seemed to be comfortable in your own skin. How sad. “Sad” – now there’s a fitting inscription for your headstone!

Among all my memories of you – and you know this to be completely true – it was so very difficult to keep loving you after you tried to kill me. I know, I know; I’m making this about me. I thought you might appreciate the irony in that, and have a chuckle at my expense! You selfish jerk.

There’s a lot more I could say but what’s the point? Anyone that hears this already knows your faults and character defects, your charm and schoolyard wit, your shifting moodiness. Yet we all loved you anyway. Yes, we loved you dearly, until we couldn’t bear it any longer. I could go on but… you rarely listened to me anyway.

I will finish my tribute to you – tribute, ha! –with one last thought, old manI wish it hadn’t taken so long for you to start dying.

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.”  Romans 6:5-7

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