Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unspoken Eulogy

Marshall’s. We are not much for eulogies ...not much for the public outpouring of our deepest feelings or grief. We were taught long ago that feelings had a place … they belong inside ... out of sight … private … hidden. Feelings are something to be endured,not displayed. Except, of course, anger. Anger, which is to be worn on the sleeve … proudly.

Point being that none of us could delivery a eulogy. Problem is that there are expectations that accompany delivering a eulogy … such as, being eloquent, and insightful, and providing the outpouring of our deep-seated, raw emotions for the funeral gathering. Conversely, the eulogy is no place to air anger, old grievances and baggage. Here in lies the paradox. The expectation is to publicly display that which we had been taught to hide since childhood and hide what we had been taught to display. Display the feelings and hide the anger.

Anger is the key word here. We couldn’t do the eulogy for fear the anger would creep in. Anger is what we share in lieu of brotherhood. I know some of the reasons that I was angry at dad, but not all of it. I don’t know what my brothers’ issues actually are. I can speculate for sure and strongly believe that they had good reasons to be angry. I don’t know because Marshall’s don’t talk. We don't talk because feelings might emerge and we don’t discuss them. We don’t talk about them because doing so stirs up the anger. Marshall’s shout and curse their anger. We don’t talk.

Letting go is hard for Marshall’s. I was angry at dad for a very long time,but somehow managed to let it go. I made my peace. Not with him though … with me. I think my brothers are still angry. Each has his own reason. When I was angry at dad, I desperately clung to the anger. It was like my best friend. I hated it, but it was what I had. I grew up hiding to cry … hiding to be afraid … hiding to feel inadequate. Hiding and being best friends with your anger is not compatible.

The night before my brother Ron died on the surgeon’s table, I told him that I loved him. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. Letting go of my anger toward dad was a close second. In the aftermath of dad’s funeral, I have had to face another challenge that may have topped them both. Now is not the time to discuss that though.

Where is all of this leading? To this.

An Unspoken Eulogy for Earl Marshall

Dad was a product of his times. It colored both who he became as a person and as a parent.

He was a man of strong opinion. Opinion that he did not mind sharing.

He wasn’t much on talking,but he had a PHD in telling ... in no uncertain terms.

For dad, things were pretty much black or white, right or wrong. Right, of course, being his view on a topic and wrong being the rest of the world.

Dad believed strongly in minding his own business. As any of the sons can attest, his business when it came to his sons was liberally defined. I am sure each of us is quite familiar with the statement, “It is none of my business but …”

Dad was not much on change. Thus he stayed with the same job, lived in the same place, and went few new places. I butted heads with him on this topic when I tried to grow my hair longer. He thought I was insane when I went to Europe, He nearly had a stroke when I pierced by ear. And he just shook his head when I got my first tattoo.

Dad was a fighter and had a temper of legendary proportion.

He was a worker. “We were put in this world to work”, he would say.

Although his actions sometimes seemed otherwise, I believe his intentions were good.

- I believe he did the best he knew how.
- I believe he wanted us to be good, honest people.
- I believe he wanted us to love and care for our families.
- I believe he wanted us to be hard workers.

I’m not sure any of us can truly “know” a person … people at just too complex. However, I think I do know two things for sure about dad.

- Dad loved his family … all of us.
- Dad never wanted to be a burden to anyone.

Maybe now he can rest.