Somewhere along the line, I read or heard that the ancient Greeks did not eulogize their dead, they simply asked,”Did he live with passion?” I don’t know if this is true, but it’s still a pretty good measure of a life well-lived.
I went to a memorial service today for a man I never met. As is the case with basically every memorial service I’ve ever been to, I didn’t want to go.
But having had the opportunity to listen to his friends and family and coworkers and co-cretors speak with such love and such loss about the passionate life he lived, I’m honored to have been invited.
They spoke of his compassion and his patience in working with patients at the Oregon State Hospital. They told stories of his generosity, his sometimes unorthodox fashions, his love of his wife and the kind, character-building way he raised his children.
They told stories of his zebra stripe-painted car, so distinctive in a sea of charcoal grey sedans. It was a reflection of his life. It was a part of his being, so much so that many people in attendance wore zebra-striped armbands or other accessories to commemorate it.
I left there grateful for the experience. I left there knowing there’s a hole in the community he left behind and wondering what any of us can do to fill it. I left there hoping I live a life worthy of a celebration such as his.
A public memorial will be Sunday at 5 p.m. at Terry Shrunk Plaza at SW Third and Jefferson and even if you, like me, did not know him, I’d encourage you to go both in support of his family and for the experience of learning a little about a man who lived his life fully and with great passion.
His son wrote, “Participants are encouraged to bring a candle, and to have fun dressing in whatever you feel is appropriate to honor him and/or amuse yourself and others. This is a gathering for really anyone in the community that wants to come and be there for us, as well as share silly stories about my dad.”
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to Doctors Without Borders, Little Kids Rock, New Oregon Arts & Letters, or the Salvation Army Portland Tabernacle.