by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 04 February 2014
"I love eulogies. They are the most moving kind of speech because they attempt to pluck meaning from the fog, and on short order, when the emotions are still ragged and raw and susceptible to leaps." Peggy Noonan
No matter how hard I tried to think and write, my usual way, I could not last week. Alas, fog got in the way.
Saturday afternoon past the privilege mine to emcee the 'Celebration of Life' honoring Dad.
Though Ms. Noonan's opening thought germane, the gathering was not for a eulogy, not to be somber. Rather to be casual and seem rather impromptu (that's because it was - in keeping with Dad's wishes). Camaraderie and laughter and celebration the aim. A tear or two inevitable.
There was less than a day to draft remarks, pass by immediate family for review and comment, and not half-day to polish. And think. Alas, fog got in the way.
The notes felt right, good, but lacked a certain sparkle I like. Alas, fog got in the way.
After taking the pulpit in the small chapel and welcoming family and friends it struck me mid-sentence to call the 'Celebration' a 'A Salute to Dad' - after-all, he was a 10-year Air Force veteran.
And that sudden idea led to other unscripted good-natured comments about his service, my Marine service, and then asking all the Marines present (including several close friends for decades who'd traveled long distances to be there) to please stand - nine, I counted.
But I should have asked all the veterans (the room was full of them) to stand for deserved recognition. Alas, fog got in the way.
It'd have been nice, and fitting with remarks, to mention a couple of famous 11 January deaths - 'The Star-Spangled Banner' author Francis Scott Key in 1843 and Medal of Honor recipient (World War II) U. S. Marine Gregory "Pappy" Boyington in 1988. Alas, fog got in the way.
More about Dad's remarkable courage and his 'leadership by example' character - even during illness - was in order. Alas, fog got in the way.
I failed to touch upon Dad's wonderful sense of humor, his sharp wit, infectious laugh, and tell a quick true funny tale; maybe three. Alas, fog got in the way.
I should have mentioned Dad taught me to ride a bike; bait a hook and handle fishing rods from surf to fly; toss a football; shoot a bow and arrow, shotgun, and rifle; clean fish and game; change oil in a car; to draw and paint; and so much more; and to look at all the angles and possible consequences before making important decisions. And he (and Mom) taught the meaning of patriotism and the responsibility of duty. Alas, fog got in the way.
I should have mentioned he taught my siblings more still. Alas, fog got in the way.
I might have added Dad was not perfect, for as we all he had shortcomings and faults. But he did his best. Alas, fog got in the way.
The 'Salute' should have ended with, "Well, that's it for now. Good afternoon, Dad, please join us in the staterooms - for stories, about you, and some warm, hearty laughs." Alas, fog got in the way.
But he joined us anyway.
There's another thought or two that would have made the 'Salute' sparkle a bit more. Alas, fog got in the way.
But there was salvation - sparkle - in beautiful live music.
A young grandson - played guitar and sang. His song appropriate and moving. Most impressive was his composure under difficult circumstances - such stage presence. I could not have done it. And, a son on guitar and grandson on fiddle performed superbly, too - a favorite tune of Dad's.
Their music - their notes, their exactly right notes - pierced the fog.
The 'Salute' fitting - it complemented Dad. We followed his orders.
I did my best. Better (for Dad) was in order. Alas, fog got in the way.
Memories, dreams, and hopes - right you are, Ms. Noonan, still rugged, raw emotions are susceptible to leaps.
Alas, fog, a peaceful fog, has yet to clear.
Though I see, momentarily not so clearly.
One day, so I'm told.
Harry Franklin Weddington, Jr.
(24 November 1935 - 11 January 2014)
On behalf of Dad and his family, "Thank you, Mr. Dan Cooney - for your friendship, for your comments." And, "Thank you each and all - who journeyed from near and far - for joining in what became a 'Salute'." And, "Thank you each and all who, for whatever reason, were only able to join us in spirit."
"Thank you! Brown-Wynn Funeral Home, Cary, NC, for exceptional professionalism."