I’m posting a eulogy that I delivered at a friend’s funeral on Friday, August 16. Based on the reaction from those who were in attendance, it touched several people. I’m posting it here in case anyone wants to read it or have a copy of it. If it is a source of comfort or relief; then this posing will serve its purpose.
This eulogy was crafted to be delivered in an extemporaneous manner, while speaking; also, it’s not written to be grammatically correct either. The punctuation is mostly ques for me to breath, look at audience, or change my vocals to strengthen the message.
I have known Paul Carroll all my life. As a child I knew him as “Snoopy”. I think I was 10-years old when I learned his name was actually Paul.
Paul’s family and mine have been intricately linked. This connection was forged long before the birth Ronnie Ray and myself. As a child my sister and I enjoyed visiting the “Carroll Kids”––a term of endearment used by my mother––because when we visited Gene and Shannon we got to play with all the kids.
I have fond memories of playing with Ron, Brinda, “Snoopy”, Danny Glen, and watching Wendy grow up behind us. We had a lot of fun whether it was in the mobile park behind “Richards Market” or on their property in Tyee.
Over the years, our families have shared the ebullience of marriages and childbirth, to the anguish of divorce, failing health, and the loss of loved ones. Tragedies are horrible events, but important ones because they push us to the precipice of our mortal limitations, and allow us to glean a person’s true character.
I’m sure all of us have stories that speak to Paul’s character. His willingness to blow an afternoon helping us work on a project, such as a broken-down car or fixing a household appliance.
It’s easy to say, “Snoopy has a big heart”, “he’s a caring person”, or “he’d give you the shirt off of his back”, but I reject these nondescript platitudes. Paul was much more than that. Instead I want to focus on current examples of Paul’s personality because during tragic times I’ve witnessed Paul’s character shine through in stellar fashion.
Six months ago my mother passed away. The week leading up to her funeral Paul called me numerous times. We had several long poignant conversations that I drew a great deal of comfort from. The day of the funeral––I couldn’t speak––, so I had one of her church ministers recite an experience she had. I will not give a verbatim recount of her experience, but I will give a brief explanation.
When Danny Glen passed my mother immediately left for home––she was in Washington State at the time. She left late in the evening. On her way home mom had a vision. She saw her late father sitting in a chair surrounded by several loved ones. He was smiling and holding a baby, which was my cousin Angela who died when she was 10-days old.
Suddenly from out of the fog that encompassed the fringes of the vision, Danny Glen came running into the scene. He approached my grandfather with a cheerful-peaceful look of contentment. My Grandfather welcomed him and hugged him with his free arm. This gave my mom a moment of serenity and peace.
Whether this experience was a delusion from a road weary traveler, or the hand of providence sending relief to a grieving friend is irrelevant because it provided comfort to Shannon, and years later, to my family at my mom’s funeral. It also had a profound impact on Paul.
Part of Paul’s charm is that he was a man who was easily moved by stories like that; more importantly, he used that story as a catalyst to rise to the occasion at mom’s funeral. He did so by sharing himself and delivering a comforting tribute about my mother. This–more than anything–reveals Paul’s true nature.
I can say that the kindest thing Paul ever did for me took place at Mom’s funeral, when he stood up and spoke. I know this was a tough thing for him to do. Paul knew that people were aware of the challenges in his own life; also, glossophobia can be paralyzing. As great as Paul was in a group setting or with people one-on-one, public speaking wasn’t his strong point.
He could have kept silent out of the fear of being judged, or used the excuse of not wanting to speak in public. In stead, he decided to share a message.
When Paul stood up it was vintage Paul. You could tell he was a little nervous at the beginning because he stammered and slightly shuffled his feet, but he persevered and delivered a thoughtful, compassionate, and touching off-the-cuff homage.
Paul’s tribute to my mother exhibited all the qualities that made him the special person he was. I would like to share them with you now.
Paul’s voice. His voice had that confidence and reassuring tone that was a staple of his. “Snoopy” could talk about going somewhere; although you might be hesitant, you knew you couldn’t wait to get there with him.
Paul spoke from his heart. He wasn’t the type of man who was afraid to tell another person–especially a male nonrelative–that he loves you. This would include giving a hug to someone…regardless whether or not they were comfortable with hugging.
Paul was sincere. He never was one to say something without meaning it. You could tell he was serious by his firm handshake and the sparkle in his eye; it left no doubt that he really meant what he said.
Paul was honest. He was honest in his feelings towards other. He didn’t set up a false façade. He was always open and truthful when he shared himself with others. He owned his successes as well as his setbacks. Paul would share his victories with others and accept blame for any defeats.
Paul had charisma. His personality radiated warmth. When he was in a group; he stood out. He had the ability that made people want to be around him, and see him do well. Whenever I left Paul’s presence I always felt a sense of wellbeing.
Paul was courageous. He didn’t obfuscate his faults, but encouraged others to learn from them. During his tribute at my mom’s funeral, Paul shared some of the challenges in his life, and it served him well because it lent credence to his testimony and gave power to his words.
I will always remember Paul’s testimony he gave that day, and I’m indebted to him for his kindness. His words comforted my sister, Victoria; my mom’s husband, Salome; and myself. This was the true character of who Paul was. He cared for the people around him and wanted to comfort them when they were hurting.
I don’t think of Paul as dead, but alive. He’s in a joyful place that knows only happiness, and no tears. The Holy Spirit’s power of reclamation has restored Paul to perfect form; now he sees the face of his savior, and his salvation is complete.
I like to think of Paul running into the vision that my mom had. He’s kissing Shannon’s cheek. Hoisting his little brother Danny Glen upon his shoulders and standing next to my mom. His family members and mine surround him and celebrate a heavenly reunion.
I want to remind everyone that death has a weak hold. For it only ends a life, it can never–ever–end a relationship. Paul will always be a son, brother, cousin, uncle, father, grandfather, and friend.