Saturday, October 04, 2014

I Am Going to Speak

Bob with "Ronnie" (a cat he named after me) and "Stormy", a brother and sister duo who showed up on his doorstep one rainy night

I've never spoken at a funeral service.  I wanted to at both my father's funeral service  in 2000 and my Mother's funeral service in 2010, but I didn't.  I was afraid I couldn't get through my words without breaking down.  Lucky for me one of my brothers is a care pastor, and he has spoken at hundreds if not thousands of funeral services and he read my words.  

I want to speak at my friend Bob's memorial service.  I feel the need to pay him this one last honor and also to share the Bob that I knew with the new friends he made when he moved to Delaware over thirty years ago.

Am I afraid I will choke up?  You bet.  In fact I know I will.  Heck, I choked  up testifying before both Delaware state legislators for marriage equality.  I am an emotional person.  Why even last night my friend Pat was reading "The Velveteen Rabbit" to me over FaceTime and I choked up at the ending of the story.  I don't know how many times I've seen "Dark Victory" with Bette Davis but choke up every time she climbs those stairs to her bedroom for the last time.

Pat gave me some advice.  He said "Write what you're going to say down on paper.  Practice it in front of a mirror at least twenty times.  You'll get through it." 


Good advice Pat! I'll start this week.

Bob's memorial service will take place Saturday, October 25th at the Metropolitan Community Church in Rehoboth Beach.  Bob used to love going to church.  I went a few times with him (at his urging) but I could never get into it like he did.  But this time I'm making an exception.  I owe it to him.  He was my friend.


Bob at the White Caps Cafe, Oak Orchard, Delaware - 2000

10 comments:

  1. Ron,

    Yes, write it don and rehearse it, but don't worry if you break down. I spoke at both of my parents funerals the other year and broke down both times. It just shows how much it means to you. If you do, pause, take a deep breadth and push on. Everyone will understand.

    Lar

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    1. Lar,
      I would prefer not to break down because when I do and try to speak all that comes out is a squeak! I'll give it a try though.
      Ron

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  2. Ron,
    I am so glad you are going to speak. Yes I agree with Pat and Larry. I spoke at both my parents, didn't want to do it at my father's which was 12 years ago and the first time I had spoken before a large group of people since high school. I was nervous, scared, and like you worried that I would break down. I wrote down what I wanted to say, read it once or twice and just got up and did it. I managed to stay composed until the very end. I didn't openly weep but my throat tightened up and nothing came out. I just waited for a couple of seconds and finished. I thought about it later and realized "hell it's a service for someone who was part of your life, good and bad for almost 60 years ago, what do you expect". His was difficult as his death was sudden and unexpected at that time. Mom's death on the other hand was expected. I wrote my thoughts down as I did with Dad and my sister and my niece did the same. My sister went first and STOLE MY STUFF! She almost had my speech word for word. I had to wing it. My mother was 2 weeks shy of her 101st birthday and had a lot of friends who knew her in the present and I guess my sister and I thought her very interesting and unusual childhood would be interesting. I just grabbed off the top of my head parts of her life that my sister hadn't covered and had no idea if it was making any sense. Apparently it did as I was complimented more than once as my first sentence when I got up after my sister was "I should have gone first, she stole my stuff." My point is, whatever happens on October 25 is all going to be good. If the tears flow, let them flow. If you squeak, then squeak. No one will be judging you, they are there to celebrate the life of a good friend just as you are. You won't regret it.
    Jack

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    1. Jack,
      Initially I wasn't going to speak because they're holding his memorial so late (at Jim's doing). Plus there are some who will be there that I don't care to see. But the more I thought about I could not just not go and speak at Bob's memorial, regardless of my personal feelings towards some people who will be there. I'm quite sure I will be the only person there who has known Bob the longest (54 years). Plus, I have so many great stories to tell. My problem is just telling one or two of the best that illustrate Bob's character, gentleness and great sense of humor. Of course I can't tell some of the really great stories of our adventures in the gay world, although I would like too. Even as I type this, I just thought of a wonderful story of his time in California that is "family friendly" but still funny. I plan to ask someone to videotape me speaking. That I will post on my blog. I know I'll choke up but I'll try not too. Pat says if I read over my script often enough that I won't choke up but I don't know about that. The one thing I do know is how much I cared for Bob and I want to honor his memory with telling a side of him that his "later" friends never saw. And of course I will write more about him on my blog. I know those posts probably won't be of much interest to my general audience but I feel the need to put down on paper or in this case the Internet a permanent record of Bob's time here on earth. He made so many people happy. He was one of those people who brought out the best in you. I often thought we would have made a dynamic couple but the irony was that we were never interested in each other in a romantic way, even though we were both gay. We were just very good friends.
      Thanks for relating your story and giving me encouragement to speak. That I will do and my blog followers will see that speech in the future. I just hope I don't have too many "squeaks."
      Ron

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  3. It's an exceptional person who can stand up at a funeral for a friend. I commend you. Few could have known Bob as well as you, so there are even fewer who can stand up and show the true friend he was.

    You'll make it through it. I had to do both mom's and dad's eulogies (and had to write them, too), choked up both times, but managed to make it through them. In any case, your words will come from the heart and everyone there will know that.

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Thanks Jay. I feel the need to do this for Bob. Now to whittle down the two or three stories I will tell. I'm making arrangements to have my talk taped to so I can post it on my blog to share with Bob's friends who can't make it to his memorial service.
      Ron

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  4. Another good bit of advice is to pick on one person who soothes you and focus on him/her and talk to that person to make it feel a one on one conversation.

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    1. Dr. Spo,
      Excellent advice! Thanks!
      Ron

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  5. Hey Ron - somehow I missed this one and just responded to the one after. Actually I don't think there is any guarantee that you won't choke up. In fact as everyone is saying - there is absolutely noththing wrong with that. I think there's everything right with that. But writing out what you want to say and practicing will help you stay focused on what you want to have said. The tears may come or the throat tightens as Jon said but in the end you won't be distracted from what you really want to say about Bob. And that's what I'm sure is most important for you to do.

    Pat

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  6. Pat,
    More good advice! I just hope I get a chance to speak. I've e-mailed the pastor and asked her if I could speak but I haven't heard anything back. I'm going anyway, prepared.
    Ron

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