I’m coming home, tell the World I’m coming home. Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday. I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes. I’m coming home, I’m coming home, tell the World I’m coming.
– My friend Charlie McFadden’s funeral was yesterday. I was asked to present the eulogy at the service. I thought it would be nice to print it here for those that weren’t able to attend and to be able to remember what I said. It’s hard to remember what you do say at times where you are emotional. His sister wrote a beautiful poem for him that was read at the service. I hope they keep that close. Thank you to the family for allowing me this honor. Here is the text from yesterday. –
I was going to see Charlie on the 31st of August, but that’s when he really started to go downhill, so that didn’t happen. I have been thinking a lot about Charlie since then and a quote from Maya Angelou kept floating to the top. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you did, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I met Charlie the first day of first grade at Cooks Mills School. For those of you that don’t know about that school, it was a three-room school with six grades. There was about a dozen of us in that class and we’ve seemed to kind of keep in touch now and then over time. We gathered more up with us when we were at Humboldt and those were the people we held onto as we entered the bigger world of high school. During that time forward, we drifted our own directions, but the closeness I felt for that small group of people I started out with has never faded. It’s like that time and those people are a touchstone for me. A place in time I go back to, to feel safe again. A kind of reset button for me.
Charlie and I didn’t do much together during high school and I would have to admit I don’t think we saw each other for maybe 20 years or more. When we did reconnect, it was like there was no time that had passed at all. Oh, there was a lot of catching up to do, but there was never any hesitation, worry, or distance between us. Can I remember what we talked about? No, not really. Other than his daughter and his family. He was so proud of all of them, and his love for Ashely was evident in his eyes and his voice.
Whenever I was around Charlie, I had this warm, encompassing feeling that everything was alright and going to be alright. I never heard him be judgmental, say anything bad about anyone, or really get that angry with anybody. He seemed to accept everyone for who they were and always seemed sincerely happy to see you, no matter the circumstances.
Being around Charlie was like your favorite moments. A warm blanket on a crisp night, kicking your feet through a big pile of leaves, or lying in the cool summer grass watching the stars. That was Charlie for me. A truly genuine person who listened more than he spoke, who cared more than you knew, and someone I will miss more than I can imagine.
From what I’ve heard people say, Charlie never changed form the mop-headed boy (It might not have seemed like it recently, but he had a lot of hair) I grew up with. I think I have to disagree with them. Charlie seemed to grow up from that boy to be one of the best men, husband, father, brother, and friend that any of us will ever be lucky enough to have ever known.
Please don’t let this stop here. We can’t sum up a man like Charlie’s life in a few weak paragraphs, tell each other stories about Charlie. Keep telling them, write them down and let Ashely have them. Keep Charlie alive on your hearts and tongues. That’s the best way to honor his life.