My stepfather’s funeral was Monday.
And as is always the case at funerals, I wished I had better known the one being eulogized.
A friend of 50 years stood at the podium and shared that on one occasion, at the conclusion of a military event, my stepfather noticed that his coat was hanging next to the heavily decorated coat of a Russian general. So he glanced to see whether anyone was looking and then reached into his pocket, retrieved a book of matches from the U.S. War College and slipped them into the General’s pocket, chuckling at the thought of that General moving to Siberia.
Ed’s longtime friend told many military stories – stories of toughness and fairness and excellence.
It was those stories of toughness and fairness and excellence that made me wish I had known him better.
He concluded by saying that, aside from his own father, it was Ed who had the greatest influence on his life.
Even though Ed was technically my stepfather, I hadn’t known him as a father. I knew him as my mother’s husband – marrying after I was grown and out of the house.
As I sat beside my mother on the sofa in front of the casket learning more of who Ed was, I thought of the few stories I had of my own. Three. None appropriate for sharing, but one truly eulogized him in the true definition of the word.
So I held that story in my heart and nodded my final respect as I watched a procession of soldiers pass by his casket each one stopping to salute the Colonel.
Then off to the cemetery for taps and a 21 gun salute.
Rest in peace.