Went to a celebration of life – otherwise known as a memorial – yesterday. I was moved to tears and to laughter as those who spoke revealed their relationship with a man who had lived his life large.
Daughter, sister, boss, friend, granddaughter…each spoke about what both inspired and frustrated (even infuriated) them in their interactions with him. They spoke honestly, candidly and often with humour. Here was a man who had not hidden his talents nor his limitations. Jim was always Jim.
Various objects were brought forward; Jim’s clarinet teased out stories of music and learning new skills. His paddle reminded us of his wood working prowess as well as his canoeing adventures in remote wilderness areas. The most startling and revealing of objects displayed were his legs, his two prosthesis, dressed in his socks and running shoes. These truly did encapsulate Jim’s character.
In his 80’s Jim lost both his legs below the knee to diabetes. Despite a myriad of other health issues on top of the diabetes, Jim was determined to make walking again his last adventure…and he did it. He also showed his leg stumps to anyone who was interested (or even those not). I believe this kind of openness helped many be comfortable with the changes. In health and in illness Jim was himself – forceful, directive, warm, interested, curious and it seemed to me, fully in love with life.
Not sure if Jim ever asked himself what he hoped would be said about himself or his life ….but I believe he would have both agreed and approved of what transpired yesterday. I’m glad he was a part of my life.
Tomorrow I head out on my own canoe adventure. Perhaps the spirit of Jim will accompany me as I ponder my current path and what living my life large means for me.