whom Charles Dickens wrote - Ebenezer Scrooge - at least the man that Scrooge had been before the visitation of the three spirits. But to most of us he seemed to embody the character traits of the reformed Scrooge - love of life, love of his fellows and love of giving.
Certainly he could have been made cynical by the vicissitudes of life. At an age when most young men are establishing families and careers, settling into routines wich will make up their lives, _____ was in the merchant marines. For six years he sailed in sub infested waters, one of the unacknowledged heroes of the second world war. I'm sure that some who were in this position were embittered by the lack of recognition for the invaluable service they provided, and the constant danger they were in, but not _____. He had in his heart what most of us know in our minds - the knowledge that we must find the joy that life offers even in the most harrowing of situations. After all, love keeps no record of wrongs.
____was a man who found love more than once, only to lose it to disease and death. I met him at the home as he made his almost daily visits to his second wife, even after dementia had had robbed her of the ability to respond and remember. He refused to complain - even when it was difficult to walk. To some it seemed like a cruel twist of fate that a man with so much love to give could not spend his golden years with either of the women he had loved so dearly. But it was never so for him. Yes, he was sad and,yes, he needed comfort at times; but he never complained...never became disillusioned. But then, love does persevere if it is true. He was as good a man as any of us has ever known.
I happen to come from what is referred to as a blended family; I have a stepmother, step siblings and step children. I know the stresses and difficulties that attempting to function as a family in these circumstances can bring. We adult children are a vulnerable lot; we can have all the same feelings of abandonment and possessiveness that little ones do - we're just not supposed to let on. Often, the motins are gone through but feelings remain unchanged. But I have seen this family come together, first to comfort _____in his bereavement, and now to comfort one another at his passing. His love and kindness - his joie de vivre- helped to make a famiy in the truest sense of the word. But as we know, love is patient and kind.
Toward the end of his life, his health failed dramatically, but he didn't let on. He didn't want to worry people. It would have caused him pain to think that people were unhappy for, or because of, him. Love always protects.
I chose the 23rd Psalm, not just because it is so familiar, but because there are images which cannot fail to rmind us of _____. He walked in the valley of the shadow of death from an early age. But something allowed him to walk through life with an abiding sense of peace and good humour; it made him stand out; and if he was afraid or sad, he very seldom let us know. It just wasn't his way.
And his cup did run over, but figuratively and literally. In fact, one of his locals has his picture on the bar and is serving drinks in his honour. _____ loved a nosh - and he loved it in the companyof others. He is remembered fondly and missed profoundly by the people who knew him, not just as a patron or buddy, but as someone whose presence was a blessing. He just plain made people feel good.
Almost everyone in this room has special memories of him. But as we honour the man,we must also remember the famiy - a family that lost so much. We could do worse than to try and bring them some small comfort at this time. After all, it's what he would be doing if he could.
And finally, if anyone feels inclined to lift a glass in his memory later on, I think he would be pleased. After all, he was as good a man as the good old city knew; he thought that we should wrinkle up our faces in smiles - and through it all,his own heart did indeed laugh. Well might that be said of all of us. Amen