Monday, December 27, 2004

A Brother's Eulogy

Eulogy: Honoring My Brother's Request

December 23, 2004

Three months ago, it was a typical Friday night. A bottle of wine, close friends and a game of Scrabble. My brother Tom called, "Hey man!" Hi Tom, what's up. "I want you to do my eulogy." Tom, what are you talking about? "I want you to tell everyone that I was a good person."

Was Tom's call a premonition or an acceptance of an early death? I do not know. I cannot answer that question.

But I am compelled to honor my brother's request.


Tom may not have attended church regularly, but Tom believed in God. Therefore, what does God have to say about being good?

In the Old Testament, Book of Genesis, it is written,

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. God saw that the light was good;

God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.

God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

Then thousands of years later, the LORD God formed a man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The man's parents named him Thomas Michael Milhomme.

The Lord God looked upon his creation, Thomas Michael Milhomme, and God saw that he was good.


So, my brothers and sisters, God provides us with a means to measure a person's goodness.

God is telling us that Thomas Michael, and each one of us, are earthen vessels of His goodness.

Everything created by God is good. Goodness is a gift from God.

We do not have to earn God's goodness. We are filled with goodness as we are. A person is good simply because he or she is.

Our personal goodness is not a measure of someone else's idea of what goodness is. Goodness is not a measure of how much one obeys the Ten Commandments, or by how much money one earns, or by the amount of material goods one accumulates, or by how much education one attains, or by whatever one does for work.

No my brothers and sisters, goodness is a measure of the memories that are treasured in the minds and hearts of those who remain among the living.

Goodness is measure of the void and the emptiness that we feel when those no longer among the living secret into our hearts and our thoughts, and we recall their living presence, and we ache to touch them, to hold them, to kiss them.


So, my brothers and sisters, when Thomas asked me to do his eulogy and tell you that he was a good person, what was he really trying to say us? What was the message he was speaking to each one of us?

I think Thomas is challenging, each and everyone of us, to discover the goodness and love that one human being can feel for another even though many times we fail to express it adequately; the words are misspoken, the actions are misunderstood.

Since God has given us the means to measure Thomas Michael's goodness and even though Tom did not always make it easy to see his goodness! Are we up to the task?

Was Tom a good son?
· Ask my grieving mother sitting there.
· Who will take care of dad's grave now? Who will plant the tomato plant there?

Was Tom a good brother? A good brother-in-law?
· Ask Cynthia, Cathy, Ed,
· or Donna, Katie, Paul

Was Tom a good husband?
· Talk to Susan - the woman who gave purpose and meaning to Tom's life

Was Tom a good father?
· Ask Angela: The absolute joy of his life. I think Tom would say he lived as long as he did for Angela. So proud of the woman she has become. So proud of her recent accomplishments and internship in phlebotomy.
· Ask Kevin: So proud of his courage and the responsibilities he has assumed in his business.
· Ask Michael: So much like Tom. He was so proud of Michael's keen sense of entrepreneurship and his ability to always turn things around for the better.
· Talk to the not too few young women and men whose real fathers were missing in their lives. Tom was a father to them, the only father they ever really knew. One told me last night, "He was stubborn as hell, but he treated me good, and always gave it to me straight on."

Was Tom a good uncle? Let them speak for themselves

· Uncle Tom was Sweet & Scary. Tuesday was always gift day. One day he came home with a gift for Angela. Since I was there he wouldn't give it to her. He went back out and bought a beach ball to give to me so I would have a gift too.
· Uncle Tom was Strength, Honesty, Brash, and Tough Love - He had his own style.
· Uncle Tom was my protector. He would always scare away the boys I did not want coming around.
· Uncle Tom was a Teddy Bear.
· Uncle Tom, he was the Man, the life of the party.
· Uncle Tom would always chase me with scissors because I once stuck my tongue out at him. He scared me yet I could not stay away from him.

Was Tom a good friend?
· Did you see eclectic group of friends who paid their respects yesterday? I never hugged so much leather in my entire life.
· From Harley Davidson jackets to business suits.
· One moment he was protecting your back, the next he was baiting your fishhook on a lazy, sultry, afternoon.

Was Tom a good neighbor?
· A heart of gold.
· Always made the kids laugh.
· He was always there *snap* no matter when, no matter what you needed.


My friends, I do not pretend to know everything about my brother Tom. But, if Tom did not always make it easy to see his goodness. Does that mean that God makes it easy to hide His goodness? Or does it mean that God, and Tom, is challenging us to look beyond our personal insecurities and frailties, and concentrate on discovering God's freely given goodness in those whom we love and cherish, and less as the source of our personal pain and sorrow.

There is no doubt in my mind that Tom was, and is, a good person. Moreover, Tom has taught me and is teaching me, that there is God given goodness in each and everyone of us - regardless, whether or not, we believe it, accept it or even recognize it.

There is a testament to Tom's goodness gathered before me this morning:

· A heart broken mother who is burying one of her children,
· Brothers and sisters who are only beginning to ache for their loss,
· A wife who will no longer hear her husband tell her much he loves her
· A daughter and sons whose tears will salt the earth
· Nieces and nephews who will long to hear the echoes of his laughter
· And many, many friends, who will simply wish he was there

And so, my brothers and sisters, if Tom had been a poet, on this morning, he would ask us to honor these words:

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower or inscribe a stone,
Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must,
Parting is hell,
But life goes on
So sing as well.
Recall my brothers and sisters, God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

Thank you Tom, You are a very, very, good person.


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