May 5, 2014
What Will They Say? by Dennis Clemmer
The call came mid afternoon, March 30, while playing cards with my elderly parents. Uncle Arlan, my father’s younger brother, had died earlier that morning. It was not an unexpected call as we had learned several weeks earlier that he was in the last stages of life due to kidney cancer.
Since the funeral would be in Texas I was initially inclined not to attend. But after learning that the services would be delayed to accommodate a grandchild who was coming from Africa, I was able to rearrange my schedule and go. I had not seen my two cousins in over 25 years and, from past experience, knew that showing up for such an occasion was not only deeply appreciated by the family but also beneficial for me.
I had seen Arlan infrequently during my adult years since he and Jody had located in Texas many years ago after his time in military service. But family visits and his keen interest in Clemmer genealogy brought us together every couple of years. During those times I was always impressed with his quiet, gentle spirit. Now I was to learn how this man impacted those around him.
Rev. Charlotte Coyle, who provided the eulogy, noted that Arlan had achieved the status of Master Barber at age 16, which served to set him on a path of excellence. She gave specific examples of this excellence:
- A music and education degree coupled with an innate skill and passion that allowed him to teach school and be an excellent, effective teacher.
- Leading the church choir and instilling in them the same passion for the music that he loved so well.
- Volunteer work at the local hospital logging several thousand hours in a ministry of hospitality and helping others.
While I was impressed with these accomplishments, what really caught my attention were these words from Rev. Coyle, “He always was such a strong and gentle presence, wise and thoughtful, caring and kind, gracious and compassionate. He always was completely supportive of me—encouraging and appreciative and helpful. I have been immensely blessed to have had Arlan Clemmer in my life.”
Wow, what a compliment—“I have been immensely blessed to have had Arlan Clemmer in my life.”
As I sat and listened to Rev. Coyle it occurred to me that someday the service would be about me and the life I lived. What would they say about me? It is common to want to be remembered for accomplishments—achieving vocational success, serving on noteworthy community boards, belonging to prestigious clubs, obtaining educational degrees, etc. But I realized that what I most want is for them to be able to say, like they did for Uncle Arlan, “I have been blessed to have had Dennis Clemmer in my life.”
What would you like them to say about you?