Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Final Goodbyes ~ Memory Eternal, James Patrick

Jim arriving to the Church with a Motorcycle escort
photo by Tami, from the Bell tower!
(she rang the bells as Jim entered into the Church)
My 151st time at my Orthodox parish was a solemn time. I hadn't thought I would be able to attend Jim Martin's Funeral because of work but, through a help of a friend, I was able to swap my days off. I especially wanted to be there because on Sunday, when Tiffany gave me Jim's Icon, she also mentioned how her mother, Judy, had specially asked if I could be a pall-bearer. I am grateful that I was able to get off work and honored to carry Jim, along with his other friends, into the Church.

I arrived very early to the Church and was greeted by Daria who now goes to another parish because she moved but it was good to see her here. She, of course, had tears in her eyes. (It seemed everyone I talked to had tears in their eyes ~ Jim was only at the parish a very short time yet he made such an impression.) I also talked to Fr. Gary's, Mary, who told me she was happy to meet my wife last night at the viewing.  She joked that if she if came into the Church, she would let her sit in her row. (if  you want to  understand that "inside" joke, you can read about it here ☺) Sitting there for a while, I realized, I needed to be outside to greet the hearse  from the Funeral home. I can't be a pall-bearer if I'm not near the coffin. So, I waited outside.

Soon after that, I heard the roar of motorcycles.  It was then I remembered that Jim, in his former protestant parish, had belonged to a Christian motorcycle club. His friends had provided an escort! I was all choked up as I saw these "Heaven's Angels" (as opposed to Hell's Angels, that is ☺) make sure that Jim got proper honors in his final ride. ( The name of the group is "Trinity," not "Heaven's Angels, by the way.) The funeral director gathered us around and gave us instructions on the best way to proceed. The coffin was very heavy. I used to be stronger when I had my other job, because I did lift things but it seems to me now I have to start working out more.  We carried him in. Reader John, his godfather (sponsor) was one of those who carried him in. 

After we brought Jim in, I took my place on the left side. The coffin was in the center and the lid was open but, sadly, the lid was open towards me so I really couldn't see his face, only an open lid.  The service was beautiful and Father Gary's homily was excellent. He talked about how he first got to meet Jim and said he was impressed by his humility. Also, he talked about Jim's mission trip to Mexico and, when asked what he wanted to get out of the trip, Jim stated, quite emotionally, that he just wanted people to see Christ in their actions and lives.  

After the service was over, we drove to the grave site some 30 miles away. Reader John rode with me and we had a nice talk about Ancient Faith Radio.  At the graveside, Fr. Gary said the final prayers and we all took some dirt to throw on top of the casket.  It was a blessing to see Judy talking with others, declaring, how much of God's Grace was upon her during this difficult time.  She was seeing the Love of God in His people.  That is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

We went to a restaurant afterwards and that was nice.  The highlight for me was when Jim's son, Chris, who was sitting on the opposite side of the room, came over to me and asked, "Do you drink?" I answered honestly, "No," and he looked disappointed and told me how he wanted to have a drink with me (in the bar) in honor of his father. I said, "Sure, you can buy me an O'douhl's", a non-alcoholic beer which I developed a taste for over in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf war. He had a pint of beer in a glass and I kept mine in the bottle. We toasted Jim and then Chris and I caught up on each other. I really haven't seen him since he was a teenager and now he was a young man with a wife and a career in Air Force. We talked about his concerns for the future, his plans and, of course, we talked about Jim.  I was especially touched on how Chris said he wanted to model his life on his dad's by being a better person. (That's not an exact quote but that is the general gist of things)
Drinking with Chris, reminded me of Jim manning the Beer tent.  I  wonder who is going to man in next year at the ethnic fair? Our conversation at the bar was cut short because dinner was now being served so returned to our seats.  It was a good couple of minutes. It is always sad how, sometimes, the only time we get to meet with old friends is at funerals. That, of course, should change.

Dinner being over, I said my good byes and headed home.  It was a good day....and a sad one, too.  I felt strength from other people who were living out the Love of Christ. I found Joy in sadness and hope for the future.  When I came home, I had a shared all of the happenings with my wife. Sadly, she could not be at the funeral because of work. But I am glad both of us got to pay our respects the night before at the wake at the funeral home.

Grant eternal rest, O Lord, to your servant, James Patrick!


  1. I'm an in-law and was there too. Jimmy's quick wit will be sorely missed at future family gatherings. Ride on my friend, ride on!

  2. Thanks for writing this. It was good to read. God bless you guys.

  3. This post was a beautiful eulogy, such a moving service indeed. I am so glad that you were honored to be a pall-bearer - I know it speaks to your friendship. May his Memory be Eternal.

    1. Writing this helped me through my grief