He Was One Heck Of A Guy – The Eulogy

DrHGuy Memorial Service Walk-through: Act II, Scene 12, Alternative B

Being Really Prepared

I’ve been considering eulogies lately. I hasten to interject that this is not a subtle signal that my demise is fast approaching. On the other hand, I do have some concerns that, should my friends await my last breath before preparing their tributes or, worse yet, attempt a genuinely extemporaneous last salute, the results will be suboptimal.

While Duke of Derm and Lord of Leisure, for example, are fine buddies, the veritable iodine-added salt of the earth, and precisely the sort of fellows one wants covering ones back, they do not, I’m sorry to report, have the comic chops for the kind of performance that – well, that I deserve.

I am, consequently, faced with two alternatives:

1. Making new friends with a flair for public speaking, compositional skills, and a sense of humor resonant with my own.

2. Preparing a script and stage directions for my eulogy myself, after which my acquaintances can audition for roles in that one and only performance of what should be, as far as I’m concerned, the greatest show on earth, based on stand-up comedy style, acting technique, stagecraft, theatric range, and the likelihood of not only outliving me but also maintaining the physical and cognitive capacities necessary to assure that the show will, indeed, go on.1

It will surprise no one who knows me to learn that I have chosen the latter course of action. 2

The Research

As a result of this process, I’ve come to realize that the time and labors required to live an altruistic, productive life of the sort that offers eulogizers a treasury of good deeds, accomplishments, and evidence of service to humanity from which to choose, can be put to more efficacious use assimilating memorial performances already proven successful in uplifting the spirits of the audience and enhancing the reputation of the deceased. Many of these speeches suggest goals reached and obstacles overcome which can be advantageously attributed to the individual memorialized without the messy inconvenience of him or her actually executing these acts.

I’ve begun the research and will close today’s post with a few excerpts from selected eulogies, not all of which are suitably laudatory for our purposes but all of which are certainly striking.

New York Fire Department Captain James Gormley on Captain Francis Callahan, killed at the World Trade Center:

Some people equate camaraderie with being jovial. It is anything but. Camaraderie is sharing hardship. It is shouts and commands, bruises and cuts. It’s a sore back and lungs that burn from exertion. It’s heat on your neck and a pit in your stomach. It’s a grimy handshake and a hug on wet shoulders when we’re safe. It’s not being asleep when it’s your turn at watch. It is trust, it is respect, it is acting honorably.3


Rev. Howard Moody on Lenny Bruce:

There are three characteristics of his that I especially want to recall: his destructiveness, his unbearable moralism, and his unstinting pigheadedness.4


Robert Hunter on Jerry Garcia, his longtime songwriting partner:

Without your melody and taste
to lend an attitude of grace
a lyric is an orphan thing,
a hive with neither honey’s taste
nor power to truly sting.5


Robert F. Kennedy on Martin Luther King Jr., given impromptu during a campaign stop in racially charged Indianapolis:

What we need in the United States is not hatred, what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.6


Dan Aykroyd on John Belushi:

What we are talking about here is a good man and a bad boy.7


Jacques Pépin on Julia Child:

She was the original antisnob, enjoying a glass of Gallo burgundy as well as a glass of Lafite. She loved iceberg lettuce.8


Rev. Louis Saunders on Lee Harvey Oswald:

Mrs. Oswald tells me her son Lee Harvey was a good boy and that and that she loved him. And today, Lord, we commit his spirit to your divine care.9


Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison on President James Polk:

The death of the late Ex-President of the United States is announced to have taken place last Friday night, near Nashville, Tennessee. His complaint was chronic diarrhea. The transition from Presidential chair to the grave has been swift and startling. Neither humanity, nor justice, nor liberty has any cause to deplore the event. He probably died an unrepentant man-stealer. His administration has been a curse to the country, which will extend to the latest posterity.10


Rich Tillman at the memorial service for his older brother, NFL player turned war hero Pat Tillman, immediately swearing into the microphone said he hadn’t written anything, he said and with asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides:

Pat isn’t with God. He’s fucking dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.11


From The London Times on French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the founder of Deconstruction Movement, a central tenet of which is that “there is nothing outside the text:”

Is Derrida dead? A conceptual foundation for the deconstruction of mortality

Can there be any certainty in the death of Jacques Derrida ? The obituarists’ objective attempts to place his life in a finite context are, necessarily, subject to epistemic relativism, the idea that all such scientific theories are mere “narrations” or social constructions. Surely, a postmodernist deconstruction of their import would inevitably question the foundational conceptual categories of prior science — among them, Derrida’s own existence — which become problematised and relativised. This conceptual revolution has profound implications for the content of future postmodern and liberatory science of mortality. Is God dead?

It was, perhaps, Alan D. Sokal who most heuristically challenged the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook in his brilliant exegesis of Derridian principles Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity. Dr Sokal’s inclusive review of the literature (see especially Hamill, Graham. The epistemology of expurgation: Bacon and The Masculine Birth of Time. In Queering the Renaissance, pp. 236-252. And also Doyle, Richard. Dislocating knowledge, thinking out of joint: Rhizomatics and the importance of being multiple), and his eerily exact summary of the complementarity principle (Instead of a simple “either/or” structure, deconstruction attempts to elaborate a discourse that says neither “either/or” nor “both/and” nor even “neither/nor” while at the same time not abandoning these logics either) make his reading of Derrida irrefutable. We know only two things. We do not know. And M Derrida is in no position to enlighten us.12


Coming Attractions: Even better eulogies to follow soon.

  1. That still leaves finding singer-dancers for the chorus line, composing the music, sketching out the choreography, arranging for soloists, … , but one thing at a time. []
  2. I had, in truth, rejected the first option by the time I finished “Marking new friends.” []
  3. Excerpted from A Wonderful Life: 50 Eulogies to Lift the Spirit by Cyrus Copeland []
  4. Ibid []
  5. Ibid []
  6. Ibid []
  7. Ibid []
  8. Ibid []
  9. Ibid []
  10. From The Liberator, June 22, 1849 []
  11. American Tragedy by Mike Fish. ESPN.com []
  12. The London Times Oct 11, 2004 []

0 responses to “He Was One Heck Of A Guy – The Eulogy

  1. Even if you are not looking for suggestions (when have I ever let social niceties stop me) don’t forget the part about making the first Big Mack in whatever town it was. I don’t recall the town name, as it happens, I only hang on your every OTHER word. The town name was an other.

  2. - rich tillman appears to beholding a chocolodka -

  3. Pingback: Graham Chapman And The Parrot Are Dead - A Eulogy To Die For » Heck Of A Guy