Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Life Well Lived

Sadly, our friend Tim, who valiantly battled ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, passed away last week. When we started out as videographers, Tim, a fellow-videographer, was the only one who extended his hand to us and gave us advice on how to prosper. He was among the top videographers in the Bay Area at the time. How lucky we were to have him as a friend! And, as his star was waning and ours was ascending, he took so much pride in our achievements, as though they were his own. His brother said at Tim's funeral, "I never understood why Tim so freely shared his trade secrets with you. You were competitors." But the brother did not realize that first and foremost, Tim was a good man, and we were good friends. Only after that, were we videographers.

Tim's memorial service was an extension of the courage and grace he exhibited during his life. So many things that his three devoted sons said had a depth of wisdom that belied their 20-some-odd-years. Here is a sprinkling:

1. What is the value of happiness? Without happiness, life is meaningless. You can subsitute the word love for happiness, and it would also be true.

2. Bring humor to every life situation.

3. Tim was truly the most wonderful father. He was actively and lovingly involved in his sons' lives every day of their lives. These were the happiest moments of his life.

4. Tim never complained - not once. He lived a life with gratitude. Even after he was diagnosed with ALS, Tim said every day, "I'm the luckiest man in the world."

5. Tim showed by example how much more you could learn from sympathetic, non-judgmental, non-manipulative, patient, compassionate listening. He listened with an open heart.

6. First you must accept a thing before you can deal with it. By his acceptance, he made it easier for all of us to accept his fate.

7. Although Tim was not a simple man, he often had simple answers to the troubles plaguing those around him. It was as simple as the zen philosophy of, "When you are hungry, eat. When you are thirsty, drink. When you are tired, sleep." When a son called on the phone and cried how homesick he was at college, Tim said simply, "Then come home."

8. Acknowledge the presence of others in your life - often. He thanked his sons 10,000 a day for taking care of the most intimate needs, and for giving up their lives for him. They responded that they didn't give up their lives; they found their lives and the meaning in their lives from being with Tim.

9. What he wished for us all was the peace and bliss he had come to know during his illness, but without having the illness.

10. Tim said that if God gave him the choice to live out a normal life span of 80+ years, or to have only six months to live, but in that six months he would be cared for and loved like no one before had ever experienced, he would choose the later. And that was his fate, so do not feel sad for him.

11. The clergyman said to the many, many people gathered at the funeral, you have given Tim a favor he cannot return. You are here today to honor him. Because he cannot return it, it is the highest form of a favor you can give.

12. Despite his passing, Tim will always be connected to life so long as one person who knew him, or knew of his gentle soul, still remembers him. We already miss him very much.

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