I went back to Gilby for the funeral of my Uncle Johnny. This is what I wrote.
Eulogy for Johnny
As we gather here for this funeral, there is a certain formula for these proceedings. The family sits in the front pew, we bow our heads, sit through the eulogy, listen to the obituary, maybe……, have lunch, and then we go home.
Sometimes, that is enough. But sometimes, it is not. And we wonder if we have done him right? Have we, in these few moments, captured and communicated the essence of the man we are about to bury today.
Are we able to distill in a few words, 88 years of a full and complicated life? Last night as I drove in from Bismarck, I asked myself that question about Johnny.
Who was he?
What did he do?
Where did he come from?
How did he get here?
But those questions are easily answered by the obituary. The more compelling question is always…”The Why?”
And in Johnny’s case, it is The Why.
Why did we all love him? And everybody did.
We all did.
Why did we all love him?
And then it came to me
It was the name.
It was his name.
Johnny is a young man’s name. Butch, Bert, Clark, Jack, ….., those are old names. Reserved, reticent……restrained.
But Johnny is a young man’s name. Johnny Dickson, Johnny Grodahl, Johnny Scott. Every breath of their life was young and vital and fun.
Johnny is a young man’s name. And after 88 years, Johnny was still a young man. Because to be named Johnny is to be:
And the gift that Johnny gave us…was that whenever we called him, or saw him, or even thought of him……for those few brief moments,
We too…..became Forever Young.
And that is why we loved him.
Rest In Peace Johnny.