Three weeks ago my good friend lost her husband. The Memorial service was just perfect, with each family member putting a beautiful long stem red rose in a vase at the front of the church. His friends and business partner eulogized his amazing life. My friend grieved. Even if you suspect death is close, it does not make it easier to lose the presence of your partner, the one you love.
And what a life he had. George started out as a farm boy on the east coast, then into the Army Air Corp as a pilot during the Second World War. He came out with character, courage and a lifelong love of planes and adventures. He worked in sales at two major companies and rose to the top. He returned to school and received his MBA in Finance and switched careers, eventually starting his own Financial Management company and having his Funds listed and traded on the NY Stock exchange. He went from rags to riches.
What I saw that day was the love and respect that all of his large family and his many friends have for him. His business partner told the history of how they started their business based on one of George’s financial ideas and one of his employees talked about how wonderful he was to work for. He was smart, supportive, encouraging and a wonderful leader. He wanted the best for each employee. His friends told funny stories of his humor, how down to earth he was, and how he was always there with both a twinkle in his eye and time for you. He was a golfer and a card player and many of the guys had stories to tell about his wit and antics. His many grandchildren had written of their special moments with him, some funny and some poignant. George had a great sense of humor and a little bit of the devil in him. He could be like a kid at heart himself which made for great family excursions around the world.
My dear friend had a special fly-by of two of the vintage planes that were George’s favorites, a P-51 and a P-38, both planes he had flown. There were many wet eyes in the large group of friends and family as all we said, “Good bye.” I know he would have been very pleased by all the love, respect and memories that banded us together in his honor. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather,employer and judging from the large group of friends, especially in the role of friend.
I was struck at his legacy… not the material wealth, but the people wealth. The wealth of the memories within each person there. His wife, his daughters, the grand children and the seventeen great-grandchildren and his friends. I was struck by the love that was present. At the end… what is left? It is the memories and the love you carry in your heart. I was glad for the times we had been together, over the card table, dinners and parties. And I wished there had been more. Life goes too fast and sometimes we just don’t spend enough time with those we love and deeply value. I would have liked more memories. More time. More laughter. Friends are a key ingredient to a satisfying and happy life. Now, I will reach out to my friend… and we will laugh together as we remember George and the immense joy he brought to her and her life. He was really a special man. I feel lucky to have known him.
Kathy Nelson is a Life and Business Coach in San Diego, California