I have just returned home from the funeral of a friend, Jeffrey. Jeffrey was not one of my closest friends; he was more of an associate from my hometown political party – a comrade-in-arms on the local political pitch. But we got to know each other well enough as we volunteered on boards and commissions over time. Jeffrey was too young to leave us behind (I would say late 60’s). I heard he was sick only a few months ago, and now he is gone. Sadly, he was the victim of a brain tumor. Jeff was a good guy. A teacher who became a lawyer and went on to represent the teachers’ union, his life was devoted to evenhanded justice. Evidence of his success in that regard was the fact that many of the attendees at his funeral service were leaders from the opposing political party in town, as well as mates from our own. The temple parking lot was full to capacity and the service was standing room only.
The Rabbi delivered a beautiful eulogy that detailed Jeffrey’s passion for justice. Indeed, his legacy was framed in that light. He fought for legal justice and social justice; tikkun olam – the repair of the world. And he was a beloved husband and father.
As you know from previous posts, I am old enough to hear echoes of mortality rattling in the hollow depths of my skull. Attending a funeral awakens a primal concern within me. I was able to cast those thoughts aside during the service to mourn communally as Jews do. We tend to use the service to celebrate the life of our departed friend or family member, instead of dwelling on the hereafter. Jeff led a good life and left a legacy worthy of mention. Worthy of a theme.
It kinda got me thinking. What legacy would I like to leave behind? Obviously that of a great dad and a contributor in my community, but what else? “How would I like my eulogy to be framed?,” to put it bluntly. Clearly I will be in no position to write my own eulogy. Yet each of us has within our respective capacity the ability to influence our own eulogy, right?
I would be most honored, I think, if my eulogy were to be framed in terms of the happiness I was able to bring to the lives of others. I say that knowing that it is not likely for my wife to see it that way, as I’ve probably pissed her off as much as making her happy (Sorry, Hunny! ). But seriously, one of my favorite pastimes is to try to get people around me to laugh and be happy. I’m a big goof, and I’m not above a little self-deprecating humor if it’ll cheer things up a bit.
My life has not been that of a hotly pursued plan. Instead, I set loose goals of being successful, and then wandered about, very much the happy-go-lucky epicurean, as I pecked out my way thus far. I am very good at planning things and I possess mad organizational skills, but I choose not to apply them to my career goals in such a way as to drive myself mad with stress. I believe in preparing myself generally, and then grabbing opportunities and running with them when such opportunities are presented to me. And that’s pretty much how I became affiliated with Joshua and Jason, as part of this incredible movement to build Jewish Whisky Company and Single Cask Nation.
And it is a movement.
One thing that Joshua, Jason and I share is that we are equally passionate about making people smile by sharing incredible whisky experiences with them. When those guys asked me to join them on this incredible whisky journey, I had no doubt it would become wildly successful. I mean, whoever decided to put water in a plastic bottle and sell it for $2.50 was a genius. But this idea of building an independent bottling company and whisky society had to rank right up there as a no-brainer. We have three guys who love to put whisky smiles on peoples’ faces putting whisky in the hands of folks who love to smile when they imbibe fantastic whisky. A match made in heaven.
They say a man who does something he loves for a living never works a day in his life. They also say that a smile is infectious. I sincerely hope that the love and cheer and spirit we bring to bear in building our whisky community rubs off onto all of you who dig what we’re doing. Hell, maybe that’s why you dig what we’re doing. I also hope that you crack a smile every time you crack open a bottle of JWC hooch. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the monetary aspect of the business drives us, too. But that is secondary.
Making people happy will always come first.
And that’s a legacy I’d love to leave behind.
Tonight I will raise a dram to Jeffrey, and I will smile for the good life he lived.