You know a man is a good man when you can clearly remember the last conversation you had with him.
You know a man is a better man when that last conversation took place several years ago and involved nothing more than a routine phone call asking for a vote in an upcoming election.
I don’t recall the year, probably sometime in the mid-to-late-1990s, but that was the last time I spoke with Ted Lacy, who called my parents’ house seeking their support in the jailer’s race in Powell County. Ted knew the entire household would be casting their votes for him, but he made the call anyhow to thank my parents and because that’s just what a man does.
We buried Norman today.
His friends and family gathered in Stanton for his funeral, and I’m fortunate enough to have been invited to be part of the service, both as a speaker and as a pallbearer. It was a touching tribute with kind words being shared about the man (or, perhaps more appropriately, The Man) we all loved so much. I was especially fond of his son-in-law Barry’s talk, which included a quote from Yoda (“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.”) and this essay by Robert Hastings called “The Station”:
My emotions will be running high the next few days as I head back to Powell County for the visitation and funeral of my friend Norman, who died early Sunday morning following a battle with cancer. As usual in times like this, I’ll turn to my favorite counselors to help guide me through. I’ll be relying on names like Springsteen and Tweedy, Lennon/McCartney and Earle.
The text from his daughter arrived early this morning.
My friend Norman died at about 1:30 a.m. June 28, taking him on to the next part of his journey. Today, I’m thankful not only for Norman’s life but also because he got the chance to say farewell. He got the chance to celebrate his life with his loved ones, and in doing so, gave us one final opportunity to let him know the impact he has had on us.
To be clear, the tribute referenced in the title is most certainly not my tribute. More on that later. But first …
Other than a few initial comments (OK, jokes) following Michael Jackson’s death last week, I’ve remained quiet on the subject, at least publicly. I didn’t know Michael Jackson, so I don’t think I have any real right to overly mourn his death or spend hundreds of words remembering his impact on the world.