I attended a funeral last weekend of a man I didn’t know well. Bob was a relative of a relative. I don’t always attend a service for someone with such a “loose” connection to me, but it seemed important for my husband and I to show our respect in this way.
Bob was raised in a small town of around 1,000 residents. He loved his country and found a way to serve in the Korean War, even though his poor eyesight exempted him from military duty. His job was to prepare fallen soldiers for their journey home. He made sure all the paperwork was in order; in this small way he lessened the family’s grief. This kind of care and concern characterized Bob’s life. After the war he returned home with his bride to raise a family.
Another example of his patriotic spirit was his faithfulness in voting in every election and primary, including the primary less than two weeks before his death. He didn’t let his illness or frailty keep him from his duty.
Some of his nephews recounted memories of visiting Bob’s family on the farm—working, playing, and getting into mischief. Bob demonstrated both tough love and forgiveness to these young boys when they got themselves in trouble.
One boy went home with a farm kitten that he took care of and loved for many years. When the cat died, he wanted to bury him on the same farm. Bob no longer owned the farm, but he contacted the new owner and secured permission to bury the beloved pet there.
He also accompanied the young man. He handed him a shovel saying, “This is your job.” After the hole was dug, Bob saw the cat’s owner was having trouble with the thought of placing his pet in the ground. Bob took back the shovel, “This is now my job.” This compassionate act was typical of Bob, a believer who lived his faith.
Another family member read a piece about the characteristics of an extraordinary man. The last statement was, “An extraordinary man doesn’t know he is one, but believes himself to be just an ordinary man.”
Bob was such a man. After his memorial service, I felt I now knew him because I’d seen him through the eyes of those who loved and respected him. He left behind a legacy of faith that’s worth emulating.