A EulogyPosted: January 9, 2015
When I was seventeen, I visited my uncle in Australia. As he was warming up the barbie (he seriously called the grill that) he said, “Why don’t you go get two beers from the fridge?” “Two?” I replied. “Yeah, one for me and one for you.” It wasn’t my first beer, but it was the first beer that I drank with an adult, as an adult. We were just two men, sipping beers on the back porch while sausages sizzled on the grill. It was special, because we acted like it wasn’t. I passed out immediately after dinner, but that was because of the jet lag, not the beer.
I still have my temporary membership card to the Icebergs Club in Sydney. The rest of the world has “polar bear” clubs, whose members swim in frigid winter waters, but it never gets all that cold in Sydney. So the members of the Icebergs Club have to float blocks of ice in their beachside swimming pool to get the same effect. My uncle and I joined the club for a day, not to swim but to have lunch and beers in the clubhouse.
I know that is not much of a story. I only mention it as an excuse. If we never shared those beers, it would feel wrong to eulogize about my uncle on this blog. This really is not an appropriate venue for a eulogy, but those Australian brews ease my way. He was a man who made others feel comfortable, and casually enjoying a cold beer with such a man is one of the world’s finest pleasures. And it is a damned shame that I will not get to share another one with him.
When a great man’s light goes out, whether it is snuffed out abruptly or it slowly flickers and fades, the whole world becomes a bit darker. And those of us who have been lucky enough to live in that light have a duty to shine a little bit brighter to keep the whole world from going dark. My uncle was a grandfather to a lovely little girl, a father to a beautiful young woman, a husband to two women (not at the same time,) a brother to thirteen(!) siblings, an uncle to dozens of nieces and nephews, and a friend to innumerable people around the world. He gave a lot of light to a lot of people, and now we must do our best to burn brighter to fill the void.
Do me a favor, do yourself a favor, do the world a favor: live well, share freely, make others comfortable. We’ve lost a great man, so we all have to take up some of the slack.
Beer of the week: Hollandia Premium Lager – Most of the beers I had with my uncle were VB’s. When I returned to Australia a few years later, I stayed with my cousin in Melbourne and brought this beer to a party. Beer prices in Australia are pretty steep. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, only Frenchmen and Singaporeans pay more per pint. I was quite surprised to find that this Dutch import was the cheapest beer on offer at a Melbourne liquor store. To be fair, Hollandia seems to be pretty cheap anywhere it can be found. This clear, golden lager is fairly basic. The aroma is very slight, but has sweet hints of cider or champagne. There really is very little flavor to write about. Hollandia doesn’t taste bad, but it sure is bland.
Reading of the week: Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson – From Tennyson to Tolkien, sailing off into the night is a popular metaphor for death. It is apt; if life is a journey, the last leg is done alone.
Question of the week: How can you live better?