At a Hollywood Funeral
My neighbor died after a long illness. Until his last year, when he was incapacitated by infirmities, he’d enjoyed a rich and meaningful life, a full life, creating memories and children, wealth and legacies. When he expired at the home he had occupied for nearly 50 years, he was almost 93.
At his funeral, the minister invited family and friends to share reminiscences about the man whose life we had gathered to celebrate. Someone said, “The place John owned wasn’t just a plain old gas station. It was a landmark. Lots of celebrities stopped in there.”
“Tippi Hedron,” someone offered.
“Hedy Lamarr,” someone else added. “And I think Cary Grant stopped in once.”
A nephew interjected, “Clark Gable! It was Clark Gable.”
It was generally agreed by the small congregation at John’s funeral that his place of business had indeed attracted many famous people. That was pretty much the mourners’s recollection of his life.
As John’s neighbor for more than 10 years, I felt the urge to share how he impressed upon me his love of roses and dogs, of sitting on his porch as the afternoon air cooled and greeting the people who walked past, of his politeness in attending neighborhood barbecues (even when the music and the congregation wasn’t of his generation).
I wanted to mention how he made a summertime ritual of watching televised baseball games, which I could hear through the open window of my downstairs bathroom.
I was going to say what a decent man he’d been in the decade I’d known him, an exemplar of courtesy and, well, neighborliness.
But there was a guy prowling about the funeral service pointing a small video camera at everyone — especially the people who remembered how many celebrities John had met — and I was embarrassed to speak.