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How to Give a Good Eulogy
January 29, 2008 |
Dear Mr. Keillor,
I want to thank you for an article you posted on salon.com 6 or 7 years ago on how to deliver a eulogy. I wrote a note on it at the time, and when my Dad died this June, I had a chance to use it. He was a Depression-era guy from Pittsburgh, and he taught me that you get up every morning, go to work, and put food on the table. When a problem comes up, you sit down and immediately start to work on it. You bring down the deer with one shot. And when I was entering the Marines, he told me that if a bad order ever came down from above, that I should do whatever I needed to keep my men out of harm's way. He was a great man. Extremely smart, competent in a way that was never fully tested by the world, and lived a life of complete integrity. We were so happy that he hit a sweet spot at the end of his career and in his retirement. He loved his house in Arizona. And he loved being there with my mother. And he loved his ten grandchildren. He was a great father, and we loved him very much. He will be sorely missed.
You were a good son, Joseph, and I'm sure your eulogy was a great gift to your family and something they'll always remember. I was not such a good son, and when my dad died, in 2000, I could no more have given a eulogy than I could've jumped off a barn roof and flown across the yard. I sat, inert, brooding over my own thoughts, feeling guilty and miserable, wanting nothing more than to run out the door. So there's a little insight into the matter of good advice. Sometimes the people who give it are incapable of following it. Ponder that, my friend.