Dear Uncle Dwight, spiritual being,
I may not have known you personally or even gotten a real chance to get to know you, but I have to say your “going away party” was the best thing that I had ever witnessed in my life, a real honor and privilege to have been apart of, even more adding to the fact that it happened to fall on my sister Emily’s 19th birthday, the symbolic celebration of life advancing and life ending hard to ignore.
You were a great man, who accomplished many things in your lifetime, notably being a teacher of many and inspiring others to learn, and serving in the Michigan National Guard, taking an important part in defending this great nation. All of the family still living were in attendance, many of them I had never met, saying their goodbyes, paying their respects, telling marshmallowy stories of you and how you made certain family members lives better with your joyful presence, and how you graciously helped out individuals, including my father when he was going through his first hip replacement back in 2001 – you were willing to put aside your own schedule to help a friend or relative in need, and that shows how unselfish a person you were.
I especially enjoyed the story of how you, when you were a young lad, used to sit in the back of the church, the very same one you were laid in today, and always make noise, such as tapping your Kiwanis Club ring on the pew or talking loudly with a friend, until your mother supposedly whispered, “Quiet, Dwight!” I would have never known it before, but you were quite a humorous individual, who loved to make others laugh, and could brighten up anyone’s day in an instant, just because you were so free spirited and full of happiness. You were quite the life of the party when you were living, and I can only imagine that you will continue to be that way while living within the pearly gates.
“And I will raise you up on eagle’s wings” – Singing those hymnal songs was one of the best moments of your funeral service, the togetherness really coming alive, the serious matter of the moment in the air being cut through like a knife, cheerfulness instantly spreading to everyone in the church. I hadn’t sung church songs in so long, I forgot how wonderful it sounded to have my voice ring out, to feel my vocal cords vibrating, joining the the warm chorus of spiritually invigorating music, only this time it didn’t seem empty, had a definite purpose – I and everyone else were singing to you; this was your time to shine, your victory celebration, celebrating a good long life and how it touched many other people’s lives in truly amazing ways. One of your favorite church hymns, “Amazing Grace”, was the final to be sung, and there are not enough words to describe how special a moment it was singing with everyone, young and old.
Reverend Elias Murbiro from Zimbabwe did an incredible preaching about your life and how you have gone from a “physical body to a spiritual body”, repeating those words a number of times during the sermon, each time with a daring burst of soul in his voice. His words were packed with power and ultimate enthusiasm, really uplifting the spirits of all who mourned in the small church on a chilly February afternoon in Saginaw, your’s and the Chisholms’ home for many years. His voice was so booming, I could literally feel my hymnal book vibrating.
80 years. That’s a good long life. Nice round number. Eight decades worth of events, many of them historical. When you were born in 1934, Iran was Persia, The Three Stooges had just been introduced, and Adolf Hitler had just taken over as the head power, or Fuhrer, of Germany, and 90% of the population actually approved of his presidential power – that percentage supposedly went down over time. The price of gas in ’34 was a mere 10 cents. The Great Depression was ending.
So here’s to an incredible life worth living every day, and how you never let one moment slip away while you were in your prime; from enjoying some of your favorite hobbies such as hunting, fishing, and writing music, to doing the thing you loved the most – teaching, going from educating high school kids to continuing to spread the gift of knowledge in retirement.
Best wishes in the afterlife,