Attending the calling hours of a high school friend's older brother at a south side funeral home Monday afternoon was hard enough, but knowing that he had died in that same room was even harder.
My high school friend's older brother was a funeral director and had just celebrated his 72nd birthday three days before he died. He was preparing the funeral home's parlor for calling hours for another client when he suffered a heart attack and died.
It's not uncommon for people to die at their place of work or at their own home -- the two places most people spend the most time. And being a funeral director, it was his place of work.
You had to know him to appreciate him fully. Since his younger brother was my high school sweetheart, I did see a lot of him. He had a very wry sense of humor, sometimes blatantly politically incorrect but never hurtful.
He had a wonderful laugh and whenever you attended a funeral where he was working, he was always incredibly comforting. Being a funeral director was a perfect job for him.
His obituary asked that no flowers be sent and no tuxedos worn at his funeral. Almost in a sense of defiance, I wore a pink flower on my suit jacket to his calling hours, smiling a bit inside that I was -- just like him -- bucking the trend. After all, I didn't send the flower, I wore it.
His children were there Monday afternoon -- all adults now -- and I can remember when they were just rugrats running around the back yard.
He was uncharacteristically silent as he lay there in his casket and it made me doubly sad. Where was he to give us those comforting words? I missed that.
It was all a stark reminder that we are all getting older and the time left in our lives is getting shorter and shorter. We don't want to leave this world with any regrets so we should do what we always planned to do before it's too late.