An acquaintance’s father died recently. The father and son had had in many ways a typical relationship, perhaps best described as formal. During the son’s childhood, the father had apparently been distant and detached. As an adult, the son didn’t seek to bridge the gap that separated him from his father. Nor did the father. By the time the father’s health started to decline, the patterns of behavior had ossified.
The son composed a moving eulogy for his father. He recounted the time years ago when the two of them had spent 86 minutes together watching a movie. During those 86 minutes he learned a lot about his father, his interests, his passions, and his experiences. He also learned how little he knew about his father. During those 86 minutes he and his father shared each other’s uninterrupted company. Unbeknownst to either of them, those 86 minutes would become his father’s eulogy.
Even in death, however, the distance separating father and son remained: the son did not deliver the eulogy at his father’s funeral.
As a father, I realize that every day I am writing my own eulogy.