So little of the sharing has stayed with me.
Specific stories, short strings of words. Things I heard from behind me, close and far; one at my knee.
“He was my Uncle and I loved him.”
“The closest thing to a brother I will ever have.”
A short story told by a woman Jeff trained as a delivery driver, driving toward Detroit. “One thing has always stayed with me,” she shared. “I was nervous and needed to get over a lane and couldn’t. Jeff was calm and patient. He told me to use my signal. Then, he gave me this advice.”
“Always signal your intentions,” Jeff said. “On the road and in life…’ ”
I’m sure there were more, but lastly, a drily humorous heartfelt summation both true and appreciated by all. “Ketchup was his friend.”
In the few moments’ gap, while volunteer speakers I was still dwelling on “dwelling places” when it happened. So fast I don’t know that anyone else caught it or could have caught it. An ever so slight chin bob, a direct look. Within the same second, I mirrored. That is how it came to be that I would, in fact, be reading my eulogistic … tribute (I guess).
I slid from the pew, stepped up with the help of our minister’s hand. He spoke softly, slightly offering the microphone. “Do you want to stand here?” he asked, then immediately continued, “… or…”.
The following “… would you …” was accompanied by the float of an upturned palm. It was the sort of go-ahead gesture offered at a held open door, only it was offering me something more. Significantly, the pulpit. Pastor Dave must have had quite the confidence that I would command myself. So, must have I, only I don’t believe mine came from me.
I’m not at all a public speaker. I say as little as possible whenever possible. So, I wasn’t considerately thinking, showing confidence, displaying emotional control or anything that could be ascribed to … anything.
I didn’t stop to consider. I don’t recall even the barest hesitation. I just continued on to where I would be.
I liken it to arriving at home, shifting the car into ‘park’ and not recalling if you actually stopped to pay the necessary exit toll. You must have, though, because there you are in the driveway. No flashing lights to be found.
Since then, I’ve self-rationalized. Only because it seemed everyone’s interpretation of the step-up was getting out of hand.
I’ve believed for years that I made a choice based on the perceived comfort of the podium; separating myself from the situation, hiding my girth and assuring I had something to hold onto if I couldn’t remember not to lock my knees.
That belief was shattered, last week.
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