Dad here; today, mom, Marco and I are heading north into the land where a “Coke” is called a “pop”. We are on our way to Illinois for the unexpected funeral of one of the finest men I’ve ever known, my brother, Junior Daves.
When we received word that he had died in his sleep, I was alarmed that I actually felt no grief; there are much worse ways to go than passing away gently. He left with his legacy and dignity intact, not alone and afraid, poked and prodded every four hours by a platoon of nurses taking his “vitals”. In his case, this would have been an exercise in futility, as even at his advanced age, he had such vitality that it would have disrupted any testing apparatus.
Except possibly a seismograph.
Actually, the only other two ways I can see him passing is A: over stressing himself while providing a service to another, or B: in a laughing fit brought on by the telling of one of his own jokes. He could never make it to the punchline without so much self-congratulatory cackling, knee slapping, and other physical contortions that you couldn’t help but be infected, er, affected, by his glee.
And I learned from him that you can get by with saying almost anything by ending it by laughing uproariously and saying “no, no, no” as a form of apology when it really translated into “yes, yes, yes”; it is hard to be insulted by someone who is having such a great time just calling it like he saw it.
Many years ago, I made the offhand remark to his grandson Justin, that “when I get old, my goal in life is to be Junior Daves”. Of course, word got back to him, and he just HAD to call me on it. I told him that it was true, but I now didn’t want to wait until I got old, I was ready now, and he would just have the decency to step aside, I would take over from here. Of course, this was followed by much cackling and knee slapping, (both his and mine this time; I told you it was infectious). Jo Ann and I actually formed a Junior Daves Fan Club, complete with buttons bearing his grinning image; he promptly named us President and First Lady of his club, an honor I will cherish always.
The picture attached to this post was taken on a trip to Little Rock. We were at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and I just had to ask: I had never known him to carry any title, never a pastor of a church, not even a head usher, choir leader, even a nursery attendant, it was obvious to all that he had a magnificent gift; did he view himself as a minister? Without a moment’s hesitation
“Of course I do!”
His point was that a true minister is actually a servant, not someone who explains doctrine in depth and then is the first to go downstairs for potluck. I would add that if someone has to tell you that you’re a minister, you’re probably not; the same is true is if they have to acknowledge that you’re a comedian, a musician, a writer, a great cook, whatever your personal calling. If someone else has to tell you that you’re a certain thing, then, well, you’re probably not.
Junior knew, first and foremost, that he was a servant. He unconsciously treated all exactly the same, from the smallest child to to the most exalted official; he couldn’t have escaped his calling no more than he could have stopped his own breathing.
But now his breathing has been stopped for him, but he will always be with me as long as I draw mine. It is said that as long as a man’s stories are remembered, he is immortal; this ought to tide him over at least until that final judgement day, which will no doubt involve much self-congratulatory cackling and knee-slapping at the Pearly Gates…
“No, no, no”
Vaya con Dios, mi hermano.