Through the years, one final gift I could give to my friends was to use my writing ability to eulogize them. They keep dying faster than I am, though, and it has occurred to me that there will be no one—no one who has really known me through the years—to eulogize me. So I have begun to write for them what they would say if they had outlived me. This one is the nameless hobo I was called on to bury along about 1970…
We never met each other, and he didn’t know my name. I didn’t know his, either. But I’m glad he was there.
I didn’t even know it was Bloomington, the one in Illinois, where I died. Didn’t make any difference. Never made any difference where I lived, either. I never got any more respect in life than I did in death.
They had to bury me, though, so the sheriff and the undertaker got the out-cast preacher to read the words for the out-cast nameless hobo. I guess they figured we deserved each other.
They just stood beside the hearse, talking, the sheriff and the undertaker, didn’t pay the preacher any more respect than they did me, just let him follow his nose to my pine box. They didn’t even bother to walk over to hear him say the words.
So he got out his book and gave me the whole treatment—every prayer and every scripture in the whole funeral part of that book, just like that first funeral he did, when he didn’t know better. He even said a little sermon, told a couple of stories. Nobody there to hear. That was really funny.
Yeah, part of it was to make the sheriff and the funeral director have to wait, but I was great with that. Mostly, though, I liked it just because I finally got some respect. Yeah, that preacher and me, we deserved each other.