His death had come as a shock. Just two weeks before, he’d been admitted into the hospital for a medical problem…and now he was gone.
The church was packed with family, friends, church members, and patients from his dental practice.
During the service, four people delivered touching eulogies. Reactions alternated between tears and laughter as each person shared special memories of their relationship with Harold.
The first speaker had been Harold’s friend for more than 50 years. They had met their first year at the University of Richmond and remained close throughout the decades.
And he was not alone. There were more than a dozen other men in attendance who could trace their relationship with Harold back to those early college years.
I found it remarkable that Harold had managed to maintain strong friendships with all these people. They had shared a love of U of Richmond football and basketball, attending games together whenever possible over the years. As the friend said, Harold was not a fan, he was a “fanatic” about the Richmond Spiders. Clearly, many of his buddies shared his passion and were equally committed to honoring their friend by attending this service.
The second speaker was a retired minister who had gotten to know Harold as pastor and friend almost 30 years before when he’d been assigned to this church. Again, he and Harold had remained close throughout the years, even as the pastor’s assignments had taken him hundreds of miles away.
Third up was Harold’s oldest of 5 grandsons, a 20-year old college student. He warned us that he was going to cry, and he did…along with everyone else in the church. He delivered a moving tribute to his grandfather, sharing some of their experiences and adventures. It was obvious he deeply admired the man he called “Grandpa” and would be forever impacted by the love and memories they’d created together.
Last to speak was Harold’s daughter, Alison’s friend, who is now an ordained minister herself. Despite her sorrow in the unexpected loss of her father, she was able to pay homage to her dad through her stories about their relationship. She spoke of his high expectations for her throughout her growing-up years. You could tell that, even as an adult, she held his opinion in high regard and valued his approval.
What came across loud and clear as each person spoke was the love and commitment that Harold had for those in his world. Each one recalled how kind and thoughtful he was. He took a genuine interest in others and was always eager to hear what was important to them.
This carried through in his work as well, where he practiced dentistry for over 30 years. He created a caring environment where his staff loved coming to work and his patients actually looked forward to going to the dentist. Many of them were loyal patients for all those years, bringing their children and grandchildren to his practice.
His wife Kathy said that he’d lived a BIG, FULL life. What a great statement. And it had nothing to do with the places he traveled or the money he earned.
No, Harold lived a life dedicated to creating special, memorable experiences for those he loved, just by his presence. He squeezed every ounce of enjoyment from everything he did, and he enriched the lives of all who were privileged to know him.
Think about your own life. What are you doing to make sure it’s BIG and FULL?
“Life is not a ‘brief candle.’ It is a splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing on to future generations.”
- George Bernard Shaw, British playwright (1856-1950)