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  • W.C. Young

Funerals can be both sad and exquisite

In November of 2010 and it was time to say goodbye. Funerals are always heart wrenching, and Gramps’s passing and my opportunity and privilege to properly eulogize him was harder than anticipated. Only a few of the relatives knew about the impending legal battle over the estate, which was just beginning, but I felt intense pressure to show everyone who attended the funeral what a great man Gramps was, without seeming contrite or unoriginal. My intention was to authentically convey his true nature, even if some of the facts seemed impossible to believe—like never hearing him say a curse word in thirty-eight years. Not one time.

I started my eulogy by explaining more about Gramps. He was religious, but not preachy. He chose not to gossip, instead preferring to use his experience of living through the Depression to provide you with an anecdote or a quick comment that made you really think about your life and purpose. He truly lived Titus 3:2, “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to all people.” He took this verse to heart. I never heard him say a bad thing about another person—ever. My parents would have been low-hanging fruit for him to jump on the bandwagon of put-downs, but he never did.

His quiet disposition was so gentle that any sort of emotional outburst from Gramps would make your eyes pop out. If the phrase, “Hell’s afire,” came out with a loud, muffled gargle, then you knew he was pissed. This phrase was as close to a cuss word or show of anger that he would ever demonstrate. He was my constant and consistent example, modeling how to live by your true values, your God spirit, and your appreciation for everything in your life.

Gramps had spent many years volunteering for several organizations, even participating in the voting system as a local polling judge for more than fifty years. Most people never knew he took care of a sick first wife until her early death or that he raised a daughter by himself from the time she was in middle school. He was proud of his life as a single father, as an electrician, and as a union man.

I ended the eulogy with a story about one of our many road trips during my youth. The typical setup was Gramps and me sitting in the front seat of his 1980 white Ford truck while my sister and Gram rode in the camper that sat on the flatbed. The classic truck had roll-down windows, a push-button FM/AM radio, and an intercom that connected to the back, allowing us to talk to Gram, or she could push the button on her end and talk to us. I'm telling the rest of the story on the first the Unlikely Felon Podcast - Go to

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