“Southstreet, give your testimony.”*
I went to a funeral at our church yesterday. Joe was a real pillar of the church, a former vestryman, junior warden, senior warden, softball coach, scoutmaster–you name it, he did it. He was in church last Sunday, sitting as usual a few pews behind me, so when I heard the news on Monday, I was a little freaked out. He died on Sunday night in his recliner, watching an old movie. (John Wayne was his favorite.)
All three of his sons spoke lovingly of their dad before the service. All three are Eagle Scouts and active churchmen. Impressive. Joe was always there for them, “present” as they said; something that I’m afraid is rare these days.
For 40 years Joe and his wife had a party at their house every Christmas Eve after the children’s service at church for all the misfits at church who didn’t have family in town. We went to this party for over 10 years. Sometimes my children were slightly chagrined to be associated with some of the kids who were there–other misfits like us. But I know that now, from their more mature perspectives, they look back fondly on those Christmas Eves and on Joe who would talk to anybody–even awkward middle schoolers.
The church, of course, was packed for the memorial service–as one of his sons said, like Christmas or Easter! Of course it was. Joe had friends from high school, his college fraternity, work, volunteer work, scouts, and church. I held out until the last hymn–“Amazing Grace” with bagpipe accompaniment–and then wept openly. The boy was with me and he patted my shoulder. Joe, after all, had been at his Court of Honor and at his wedding. He knows they broke the mold with Joe.
But thankfully it’s Friday again! I am really looking forward to the weekend, aren’t you?
I get to see the wee babes who have been moved to another section (“the yellow side”) of the NICU and are down to 2% on their oxygen–practically room air! They are sleeping in open cribs and their parents can pick them up and hold them like regular babies now.
If you are trying to think of something good to watch this weekend, you might pick something written and/or directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993) whose birthday is tomorrow. Among his films are The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), All About Eve (1950), Guys and Dolls (1955) and Cleopatra (1963).
You can’t go wrong there.
It is also the anniversary of the death of Henry Hathaway (1898-1985) who directed The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Legend of the Lost (1957), North to Alaska (1960), How the West Was Won (1962), Circus World (1964), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Nevada Smith (1966), True Grit (1969) and many others.
Can’t go wrong with Steve, but I may have to watch one of those John Wayne classics and raise a glass to Joe.
Into paradise may the angels lead you, Joe. At your coming may the martyrs receive you, and bring you into the holy city Jerusalem.
*Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls