Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I attended the funeral on Saturday of a very dear old friend who died just before Thanksgiving. He was a very popular and interesting man, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have known him for my entire life (literally. He was in the room when I was born). It's funny, though, even though I called him "Dr. Jim" my entire life, I never really thought of him as a doctor at all. Because he was so much more interesting than that. He was a musician, an inventor, a craftsman, a storyteller, a pilot, a truck driver, an outdoorsman, a builder, a sailor, an electrician, etc... He was many, many different things. And more amazingly, none of these labels could be applied superficially to Jim. These weren't hobbies that he dabbled in, but things he applied himself to and learned as trades. He was more skilled in any of these areas than I could ever hope to be, and it was amazing to watch him work. It wasn't really until I watched him casually sew up my brother's head wound in his back yard that I was completely aware that oh, he was that kind of doctor. Later, this became more prevalent as my dad's health started to decline and he was always there for emergencies or advice alike.
What I find to be even more astonishing, is that he was without question one of the most approachable, magnanimous, and entertaining people to be around I've ever known, a gracious friend and a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. When I was a kid I would walk over to his house all the time, and though Jim would be making his own shotgun shells in the basement, or tinkering in his workshop, he would put that down to teach me how to play chess, or show me how to play an autoharp, or produce something he'd made that would entertain me for hours.
Anyway, at the funeral I was thinking about these things, and how while I was sad that he was gone, I was obviously blessed to have gotten to know him at all. But I digress. Because I was astounded when I read his obituary I was astounded to see how successful a doctor he actually was. This was reinforced at the funeral, when several of his colleagues spoke at length at what an inspiration he was to be around. To know that he affected everyone around him the same way he has affected myself and my family seems right, though. But it was funny that, it isn't until the end of the obit that his rennaissance-man stature is mentioned, which blew me away ecause that was always what I thought of him as more than anything. This quirky, amazing man who was such a magnetic and jovial personality that you felt special just to hear him say hello to you. I'm sure you've known someone like that in your life, maybe you've been lucky enough to know a couple of people like that. They're a rare breed, and if you're lucky enough to have them still in your life, remember to appreciate it a little more the next time you see them. And if you do not anymore, stop for a moment and remember them.
Sorry this isn't a happier post, I'm truly not in a sad mood at all, but I've been meaning to post something about this since before I left and I figured I should do it now while I'm thinking of it.

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