Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, September 10, 2017


So many of my friends have died. I got to say nice things about them at their funerals. But there will be no one left to say nice things about me. So I have been writing the eulogies for me that they would write if they were still around. Try it for yourself. They say really good things, and they are well written, too.

One of those is by my classmate [5th through 12th grades], Mike Dickey

When I spoke at his funeral a couple of years ago, in Prescott, AZ, I noted that I was wearing the same tie I wore when we double-dated for the prom 60 years before. I had more than one tie then--and I’m not too humble to say that even though I have put on some weight since high school, I can still get into them—but I know that was the one because it was gray with one small pink arrow design, and pink and gray were together the really cool color combo back then. Even cars were pink and gray.

When I told the large church full of mourners about wearing the tie when Mike and I double-dated, I added, for no particular reason, except that I say things like that, “After the service, if you want to touch it, you can.”

You would not believe the number of people who came up to me, while still in the church building and then across the parking lot in the funeral meal building, to touch that tie! They seemed to think it was magic. I guess I made it sound that way. I guess, in a way, it was. It allowed them to touch their friend, whom they had known only as a delightful but wealthy insurance agency owner in Arizona, clear back to when he was just a small town southern Indiana boy.

That’s the way with the presence of artifacts. They allow us to live beyond the normal boundaries of time and space. When I was doing graduate work at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, we took communion one night from a chalice from which Christians had been sipping the wine of Eucharist for 700 years before America was discovered! Talk about being a part of the ages.

I got to experience that with Mike, too. Despite his constant pleas, we had never visited him in Arizona. We always saw each other at reunions in Indiana. But he would sit on his smoking deck—one of many decks on the huge house he built on many levels into the side of a mountain in Prescott—and call me, to share jokes [1] and stories and laughter. He was one of the few people I ever knew who actually made a ha-ha sound when he laughed. [2] We were there for several days at the funeral. I got to sit on his smoking deck, and there I could hear his laughter as he talked on the phone to me. And I wasn’t even wearing that tie.


I tweet as yooper1721.

1] One day he told me that he and his wife, Teri, went whale-watching three times a week. “Mike,” I said, “you live in Arizona. How can you go whale watching?” “Well,” he replied, “at the Y they call it water aerobics.”

2] I don’t know how or if “haha” in laughter is related to the ha-ha of English architecture. When the huge English estates were built, they wanted to keep the livestock out of the formal gardens without unsightly fences. So the landscape architects would build a slight rise into the ground between the gardens and the fields and dig on the other side a grassy depression down below eye level. People were often surprised when strolling the gardens to find cows grazing just over the rise. Perhaps they said “Ah ha,” and so that was why they were known as ha-has. 

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