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Eulogy for Albert Himes, friend & father-in-law

Delivered by Prodos at Oakhill Cemetery, Cincinnati USA, on July 05 2010 but with some ad-libbing, not noted below

Friends, welcome to the quiet waters and green pastures of Oakhill cemetery.

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live, and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you (en)grave for me:

Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

(Robert Louis Stevenson)

Albert Kendall Himes.

Five days ago we parted.
Ten days ago we partied!

It was Al’s explicit wish that we party!

That we arrange a day of festivities at the House of Himes
To which all friends and loved ones could come along
In order to celebrate Al’s life

And to give him – and them – the opportunity to personally say farewell

To say farewell by saying thank you.

And that’s what happened.

We thanked Al.
Al thanked us.

There was much shaking of hands, hugging, laughter and pleasantry.

Everyone who attended that party left with a lightness of spirit and a sense of hope and optimism about living.

Albert Himes lifted the burden of all who attended.
That was no surprise, was it?

But here is where the magic happened.
Even those who did not attend – but merely learned about The Party and its nature and its purpose felt the inspiration of its intended purpose.

Matthew 7:20
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Of course it wasn’t The Party as such that inspired people – that won the affection and admiration even of those who didn’t know Albert Himes.

It was the idea of the sort of man who could conceive of such a thing in the first place!

Of the sort of man who saw himself and the world around him in such a way that on his last days of life, felt a celebration of life was surely in order.

Where others may have hidden in shadows, cringed or cried, Albert Himes looked you in the eye, smiled, and shook your hand.

Luke 6:44
For each tree is known by its own fruit.
For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.

It was not in him to be any other way.

Everything and everyone Albert Himes touched became more pleasant . . . lighter in their burden . . . sturdier on their feet . . . more open about living and laughing.

Not through the eloquence of his words, but through his example and his actions.

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters

He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the
presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over

Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house
of the Lord
FOREVER.

(Psalm 23)

How do we measure a man?
How do we measure the success of a man’s life?

If the standard of measurement is the quality of one’s friends
If the standard is the respect, love and loyalty of one’s family
If the standard is the honesty and integrity that underlie one’s every motive and action
If the standard is the courage and intelligence by which one faces every challenge

Then I tell you that Albert Himes was as good as a good man can be!

Whether called upon to help defend his country or his family
Or to stand up for a colleague who was being unfairly treated – man or woman, white or black, young or old – Albert Himes never shirked from doing what was right for even an instant.

The two most likely places you’d find a man like Albert Himes would be either Ancient Greece
Or the United States of America.

For in both those places, President George Washington’s words reigned supreme, that …

[T]here exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage;

Virtue and Happiness.

For the Founding Fathers, the powers of the State had to have clear separation!
But Virtue and Happiness were inseparable.

And so it was for Al.

Ayn Rand: Man is a being of self-made soul

Now I ask you friends: Can you think of any greater praise for any man than to say: “There goes a man of fine character”!?

And if there are still some words left unsaid, today we all say farewell by saying the words that Al earned: “thank you”.

Thank you Albert Kendall Himes:

For defending this great nation
For building a splendid home
For winning Ruthy’s heart
For opening doors and lending a hand to worthy colleagues
So that they could achieve their careers, their dreams
For raising the beautiful daughter who is my soulmate
For your friendship and wise counsel
For being such a fine example of excellent character

Aristotle and Ben Franklin salute you.
I salute you, sir.

Ten days ago we Partied. Five Days ago we parted.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die …

(Mary Frye)

To a father and a friend.
Thanks mate.

Farewell for now.

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6 Comments

  1. My wife, Barboo, reports on the funeral on her Facebook page:

    …After the ceremony, my whole body relaxed – Mom’s and Prodos’s, too. We all three seemed to be enveloped by the same sense of peace and tranquility.

    I think that’s because it was such a complete expression of our love and respect and longing for my dad. Even though so many people had come to the party, there was a very long line of cars waiting for the hearse and us inside the gates of the cemetery when we arrived. Prodos and Mom and the funeral director were surprised.

    I was not. I expected it.

    We followed the hearse to the head of the line and waited for 1:00. We had to move forward to make more room, because more cars came along as we waited.

    We could see across the way the three Navy men in their white uniforms waiting for us. At 1:00 the hearse led the way to the gravesite, and as we approached we could see that there were even more friends and family at the gravesite already.

    The Navy men, standing at the roadside, snapped to attention and saluted. Their salute lowered very slowly and smoothly, in perfect synchronization.

    Dad’s casket was covered with a beautiful American flag with embroidered stars. Top-notch quality. The pall-bearers moved the casket in place from the hearse, and one sailor positioned himself at the head of the casket and the other at the foot, and stood at attention throughout the proceedings. The third sailor stood a distance off with his bugle, waiting at attention.

    Prodos, as Master of Ceremonies, explained the order that the ceremony was to take, and then gave his eulogy, which was very moving. Then I gave mine. I stopped for tears and to wipe my nose, but I didn’t break down, and I think I was speaking loud enough for everyone to hear. I had written my speech that morning, with only an hour to go before we had to leave, because I was up all night finishing the programs (covered with photos of Dad that people could have as a memento) and the photo display. But the speech came so easily, and I was able to edit as I wrote it. It said everything that I needed to say and I felt thoroughly satisfied with it.

    People applauded at the end, so it must have given them satisfaction, as well.

    Then Prodos offered people the chance to say a few words of their own, if anyone felt the need. Only one person took up the offer, our former neighbor, Dave Obert, who said that Al Himes had been a “big deal” to him. From watching Dad work so hard in the yard at his age… “What’s that old man doing up in that tree?”… to discussions about all sorts of issues and personal problems, Dave said Dad was an emormous inspiration to him. He said that he believes that some people are born with a special purpose of being teachers, guides, leaders, and that Al Himes was one of those people.

    No one else wanted to speak, but Prodos later pointed out to me and Mom that there have been studies showing that most people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Put the two together, and you’re lucky to get anyone to do a spontaneous tribute at all.

    After Dave spoke, Prodos read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, which is what he read at Dad’s bedside right after Daddy passed away. Whenever I’ve read or heard that poem, I’ve always thought of Daddy.

    Then the sailor off across the grass played “Taps”, and the bugle had a beautiful, rich, elegant sound with a touch of mourning in it and a whole lot of respect. The bugler took his time. The other sailors stood in salute.

    Then the two sailors slowly and ceremoniously folded the huge, magnificent flag into a triangle, and one of them came to where Mom was sitting, knelt on one knee, and presented it to her “…on behalf of a grateful nation” for Dad’s service to his country in time of war.

    He stood, turned sharply, marched along the end of the casket, turned sharply, and marched to join his fellow sailor. They marched out together to meet the bugler, and marched away together out of sight.

    Then came much hugging. I think the only people that didn’t hug me and/or Mom were the two autistic kids – one a child and one a young adult – both of whom were fond of my dad.

    Having the Navy there emphasized the respect that we all feel for Dad. It was an acknowledgement of that part of our regard for him that only the formality of a military ceremony could convey.

    Afterward, when we got into the car, we all noticed that a deep sense of peace enveloped us. All my muscles relaxed like they haven’t relaxed in months. I’d say I haven’t felt that relaxed and peaceful even when I was back in Melbourne, before these dramatic past 2 months began. All cares were put to sleep for the rest of the day. Mom did not break down as she feared she would.

    The whole ceremony in all its parts, from the unexpected (to Mom, Prodos, and the Funeral Director) crowd, to the presentation of the flag, was a perfect, fulfilling tribute, giving my Dad the send-off he deserved, leaving no disatisfaction for any of us.

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  2. Congratulations Prodos on a moving and sincere tribute. I am sure Barboo was releived to have someone so capabable with words to fullfill the duty.

    Mx

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  3. Michael Sutcliffe

    July 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    My condolences to both of you on your loss. It is clear from your writings that your father/father-in-law had a life well lived, and that’s the most any of us can hope to achieve.

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  4. Friends,

    Thank you very much.

    Best Wishes,

    Prodos

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  5. Sorry, I’ve only just seen this.

    My condolences to you ande Barboo, Prodos.

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