Recently, I was honored to be asked to give a eulogy for a dear friend. This gentleman had passed away at the age of 82.
It was only the last decade of his life that I had the pleasure of truly getting to know him. He sang, he yodeled, and he was always quick with a joke. He was the kind of man you enjoyed being around.
We shared plenty of moments together including a great night when he stopped over for dinner.
As I sat down to compose what words I would say to pay respect to him and his life one thing became abundantly clear, I did not know nearly enough about my friend John.
I implored his wife for details about his life she thought would be important to mention. It was only then I learned he was born in a different state. He had his own comedy routine, one I never had the pleasure of hearing.
He had played with several accomplished musicians. There even was a story about him driving his father’s car into a lake that I had never heard.
As I began to compose my thoughts into an organized fashion to be read on the afternoon honoring his life I couldn’t help but feel cheated. Although we shared many laughs, several insightful conversations and even a few cocktails I had only begun to scratch the surface into what was truly an amazing man.
Although I could ask his family and close friends to tell me what they remembered about his comedy routine, I would never have the pleasure of hearing it delivered with his special style. I could never hear the stories about his young life growing up as a wild country boy.
This did start me thinking about how little I knew about a lot of people I considered dear friends. What great stories, hidden talents and other bits of personal knowledge may I be missing? Right then and there I decided to dig deeper when it came to truly get to know my friends.
I consider it one last gift from my friend John.
The next question in my mind was how to gather this information without coming across as a detective interrogating a suspect.
While I mused at the most tactful way this could be accomplished, as gathering information to write a eulogy for someone who is still living can certainly come across as morose at best, and may end up ending a friendship at worse.
Try this with your spouse, and they may even wonder* what you might be planning.
While thinking about all of this, I glanced through the sports section of the local paper. I read that they had announced all the inductees into the National Football League hall of fame.
It was then that my next great idea came to me. It is the one I would like to share with you today. Recalling hall of fame inductions, I had watched in the past, I remembered hearing a little bit about the person’s past as well as their great accomplishments that brought them to this honor.
This was just what I was looking for.
I would create a friendship hall of fame. It is an idea with many possibilities. You can choose to have a friend of the year, or even of the month depending on how often you can do this.
Ask them some questions about how they grew up, what truly makes them the person they are. You may be surprised at what you learn. Take this information and combine it with the reasons you feel they are a ‘hall of fame friend’.
You could type up a nice little memo detailing all this, maybe even print out a certificate of some kind. Your computer is full of templates.
Then you can figure out the hall of fame ceremony. Perhaps invite them out to lunch with a few friends? Maybe even just a one on one dinner.
Consider what would work best for both you and your friend. Then present them with their hall of fame honors. You will both come out winners. Is this idea a little cheesy? Perhaps.
Will it help you get to know your friends on a deeper level all while giving them a feeling of respect and gratitude for the friend they have in you? Absolutely.
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