Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Old Man

photographer unknown, probably Laura Murre
He'd have been 100 years old today, 29 September 2007, this prize-fighter/pacifist cowboy/carpenter. He was a good father. He was a good man. He's in a good place.
Perhaps fittingly, his death in 1999 gave birth to the writing portion of my life, when, the night before his funeral, I wrote this eulogy and spoke it at the service the next day:

A Short Eulogy For Arvin Murre
There's an old Shaker hymn that says " 'tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free, 'tis a gift to come down where you ought to be..." I don't know if Dad ever heard that song, but it could have been written about him, because he was richly blessed with those three gifts.
To be simple: We've turned that idea around so it almost sounds like an insult. But Dad was wonderfully simple. He never wanted for more than he had; more stuff, more clutter. He showed us that it was a gift to have simple desires.

To be free: Anyone who ever heard Dad walking across the farmyard at five in the morning, whistling a tune of his own, knew that he was as free as the birds, who whistle their own tunes.

To come down where you ought to be... What do you think that means? I think, for Dad, it meant coming down next to Mom; next to Laura, the love of his life. He's with her again and at home with the one he loves.

Dad never put much stock in words... "Words are but a breeze"...he told us. So what can we learn from a man who never said much? Let's think of what we never heard him say... We never heard him say " I hate so and so, or that group of people, or that race of people...or that religion." So maybe we can learn something about tolerance; maybe even love.

We never heard him brag. Although he was a great craftsman, and we know he was proud of his work, he never bragged about anything; just let his work speak for itself. So maybe we can learn something about humility.

We never heard him say "Oh, I couldn't do that” or “You can't do that."... He always found a way to do what needed to be done. So maybe we can learn something about self-confidence.

But, his greatest lesson can only be learned by following his example... and I'm speaking now to the men...he taught us what it means to be a father...and what it means to be a man. So, Thank You, Dad... for the things you said...and for the things you never had to say. Thank You for your Life.

-Ralph Murre

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