Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Eulogy: A Quiet Hero

Dear Friends,

Thank you so very much for all of your thoughts, prayers, and kind words during this very difficult time for my family. I can't adequately convey the magnitude of our loss, but it has been heartwarming to hear from all the people whose lives were better from knowing my father-in-law. It is humbling yet comforting to see such an outpouring of love and condolence. Ben was one of those rare generous and kind people who truly lived by the Christian code of conduct. He was one of the smartest and wisest people I've ever known. He could discern and evaluate situations and people with a quick precision that was rarely inaccurate.

There really is such a thing as the American Dream. It is not a myth. It is reality. I know because I live it, and that has been possible, in large part, because of the actions of that very special and beloved man. The success of his life is evident in the fact that all five of his children are successful, happy, and well-adjusted people who get along and love each other. There are no big family conflicts which is pretty unusual these days, especially in large families. This is a testament to the kind of man and father and husband he was for his immediate family and to everyone who knew him.

Everyone has said he was the most generous and caring man they ever knew. That through his hard work and outstanding character he was able to rise from poverty to a level of comfort and security is first-hand evidence that the American Dream is real and available for those who work for it and deserve it. At the end of his life he knew he had come a long way and humbly marveled that his life was as Blessed as it was. His way of summing it up was "it's been a good run." It should be everyone's goal to be able to meet death with that kind of gratitude.

But he was a humble man who never tooted his own horn or called attention to his good works. He just did them because that was the way he believed he was supposed to live. He was one of those quiet heroes, not the kind who expected or even wanted special recognition, because he believed he was just living in the way that benefited others.

I've been a part of this family for 18 years, nearly half of my life, and I feel as if I've lost my own parent because he loved me and accepted me as if I were his own child. This was just the kind of man he was. He was this way with all of his daughters-and-sons-in-law. We all are so very sad to have lost our 'father'. In fact, this loss has severely injured my nerves and the healing will take a good, long time.

This brings me to a point that I wish I didn't have to address. Despite the outpouring of support and kindness, death in our human world has not yet escaped the aggregation of vultures, hyenas, and other opportunistic scavengers. I learned ten years ago when my own mother died that the world largely doesn't care how hurt you are that you've lost a parent. The world just keeps on keeping on, and that's the way it is supposed to be, actually.

But there are those few individuals who lack any kind of human kindness, consideration, empathy or compassion and will take advantage of a grieving person's weakened condition. It is probably an injustice to vultures to compare these foul and unwelcome people to them because vultures are only animals without human emotions and feelings. It's truly a shame that the grieving process must include having to deal with such painful distractions. And unfortunately, when these kinds of cruel and unfeeling people persist in their thoughtless and selfish pursuit of causing us pain the only truly effective way of managing is to avoid them as much as possible.

So, that being said, while it only adds to my pain and injured nerves, I must adjust my habits and activities in whatever ways will ease the situation. These hurtful and aggressive hyenas have infested even the online places where I've enjoyed comraderie and friendship in the past. And in the absence of any kind of advocate I just don't have the strength at this time to endure any extra antagonism. I will have to do what my father-in-law would have done in such a situation: make a graceful exit and hope that eventually when left to their own devices the emotional terrorists will self-destruct or otherwise be revealed for their true selves. I'm sorry that it has come to this, but unless I'm shown another way it's the only one I know.

I will be here, on my own ground, occasionally, but I'm sorry I won't be making many rounds for a while. You know where to find me if it matters.

Thanks again to those who have been kind, generous, and supportive. May we meet again at some more pleasant point.

Sincerely,

Rae Ann

8 comments:

Lumo said...

Dear Rae, I am really sorry about that. At any rate, at this moment, your family looks like a model for many well outside Tennessee - unlike some other, less convincing examples from Tennessee.

Yours, Lubos

Bee said...

Dear RaeAnn,

take good care of yourself and your family. I will miss you being around. All the best,

B.

rafa said...

Dear Rae Ann, count on me. I'll be around.

best wishes for you and your family

Tom from stowe VT said...

Dear Rea Ann,
I have enjoyed your comments on Lubos' blog. I just decide to click on your blog from his.
I am very sorry to hear about your father in-law. May God bless you and him. take care.
Tom

Rae Ann said...

Lubos, thank you so much for your kind words. Despite what some scientists and supposed science supporters (not you though) say about God, religion, and churches they surely do comfort us in times of pain and also show us how to be good, decent people. There are many people everywhere who could learn a lot from the kind of "simple" people that surround me. I'm lucky, I guess. Thanks again!

Rae Ann said...

Hi Bee, thanks and I won't be absent forever, I hope. ;-) This is just a kind of sabbatical or something.

Rae Ann said...

Hi rafa,

Thanks for all your great comments. You are a very good and kind person. I hope to ease back into things in a while.

Rae Ann said...

Hi Tom from Vermont, thanks for your nice words. I've enjoyed your comments too. As my nerves improve I hope to again join in the discussions there which have recently been dominated by a sly mean-spiritedness which I just can't stomach right now. Thanks again!


Thanks again to everyone who has gladdened my heart with their words of support.