In Shock

There is one comment that puts me into shock every time I hear it, “so and so died.” I opened a text message today and the words were “did you hear that Les died?” Les who? was my reply. I only know one Les and he is not ready to die. It got me down, and I don’t need anything else to be funky about. The dark days of November do me in every year. I sat on this for a while and then decided to call a fellow Lion who knew Les. Yes, he confirmed it, Les had a heart attack either late last night or early this morning.

Lion Les Egbert

Les was a member of the Frankfort Lions Club joining in 1979, and was president in the 1984-85 term, he loved the club. He was a stickler for the rules. He knew the Lions Club International Constitution by heart and could quote from it. At times this made him a royal pain in the ass because he would squelch some good ideas with his penchant for the rules, but he kept us honest and I liked him for that.

There are some people who lead very private lives and Les was one of them. Ask any of the long time Lions in our club if Les had kids and no one can answer. Did he have siblings? No one knows. He does (did) have a wife of many years who he adored. I saw them together in church most every Sunday, until Covid hit. Like all things related to Covid my relationship with Les stopped. I saw him again after mask mandates loosened and we were able to meet face to face again.

When I was president of the club I had to communicate the old fashioned way with Les. He refused to become computer literate and thus had no e-mail. He didn’t believe in electronic messaging. I wound up calling him or sending him post cards with announcements. We had sixty members and only four did not have e-mail. On a few occasions I forgot to send him a special message and he would remind me by explaining the value of keeping members informed by US mail. He also rubbed it in with “when I was president we always sent postal meeting reminders.”

I will miss Les and his obstinate ways. Even though I hated to hear his comments and arguments he always succeeded in giving me a lesson in leadership.

Planning Ahead

A friend of mine recently posted on his Facebook page what I believe to be his own eulogy. I’ve known the man for thirty plus years and I know he is fighting cancer for the past ten. Later, another friend told me he is in hospice care.

With that in mind I am preparing for my own demise be it in the next five seconds or five decades, I think I have found the perfect tombstone inscription, except I would plagiarize the words and exchange the name and photo with mine. Let me know if you agree.



Yesterday, I watched the funeral of John McCain at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. I failed to watch the earlier honorarium but did watch men from different branches of service carry his coffin up the Capital stairs. The precision they maintained while going up those steps while holding the coffin level. I wonder how much practice it takes to become that good.

I was having a late breakfast when I turned on the TV to learn the news at a point where the attendees were awaiting the hearse. That was it for me I sat watching for the rest of the morning. As a boy I was privy to attending  many funerals in our parish as an altar boy. The Episcopalian rite seemed to be somewhat different from a Catholic one. They dispensed with the incense burning and blessing of the coffin driving away all evil spirits from the body.

What always amazes me is to see our Past Presidents sitting together having a jovial time enjoying the privileges without the responsibility. Obama sat in the first row in pew one, Michelle was next to him. George W. and Laura Bush were next, and then Bill Clinton and Hillary. Missing were Trump, Carter, and George H.W. Bush. Oh-ho I thought, Trump must surely be holding a grudge against hero John. Later I learned that Trump was not invited nor was Sarah Palin. That is one for the books, and I’ll never figure it out.

The highlight of the eulogies was when McCain’s daughter Meghan presented. It takes courage and strength to speak about a loved one while grieving. I recall attending my own father’s funeral thinking I could never speak to the congregation without total emotional breakdown. As it was my oldest nephew did the job, and did so admirably, but even he had a few moments of emotional breakdown. Yet, here was McCain’s daughter doing a fantastic job of presenting. A few times she lost it for a few seconds, but she just took a deep breath, regained her composure and moved on. When she made her newsworthy comment , , , “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.” I remembered her left leaning politics that put her in opposition to her conservative dad. During their lives together I often thought how good a father he was to allow her to own a political philosophy the opposite of his without any remorse.

Later, in one of the eulogies, I forget which, the speaker told of when McCain was captive in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp for five and a half years, and how he, after his release, was able to forgive his captors. I’m not sure I could do that, in fact I’m not sure I could endure five and a half years of brutal captivity and torture, and as much as i try to be a Christian I really don’t think I could have forgiven them as a country or a people. It takes a super-human person to do that.

That afternoon, when I learned that Donald Trump was not invited to the funeral I thought how strange. McCain the POW forgave his torturer but he can’t forgive Trump. In retrospect I began to think of what I would do if I knew I was dying, and there was a demon eating away at the core of my mind.  It is the only rational explanation I can invent to explain his complete hypocrisy at the end of his exemplary life.

On the upside of this funeral ceremony were the many accolades and stories told by his friends. One of the most hilarious came from no other than Obama. He said, . . . “After all, what better way to get a last laugh than to make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience.”