I’ve been thinking much lately about one who was in my life, was a big part of my life actually. His name was Paul Boyd. He has been gone now for almost 3 years and I miss him still. Nowadays I can go for 2 weeks or more sometimes without thinking about him. And then, there he is in my mind and heart as if he never left. Any who truly knew him were indeed privileged. He had requested that whenever his day came to take leave of this world that I speak a few words at his memorial service. And I most certainly did so. There is not much I wouldn’t have done for him. Again, Paul has been on my mind a great deal lately. So, please don’t think me odd or even self-serving for posting here the eulogy I wrote for my good friend. I do this to honor his memory for he was one of a kind, as they say. But I also do this to bring a renewed awareness to all of us that we need to honor those we love each day and while they are yet living. Life catches us and throws us about, forever running and forever busy, doesn’t it? And because it does so, we tend to forget the significance of “now” in our lives. Now is the time to give that one a hug and a kiss to show them you care. Now is the time to make that phone call to that friend or loved one and let them know that they are on your mind and in your heart. And no, I did not say that four letter word text! There is no substitute for sound of the human voice. My point here is remember the importance of now! Tomorrow is too late for it is not promised us.
Now, what follows here was my attempt to capsulize a life in just so many words. As you read these lines, think of those you have loved that had to take leave of this world as well. Honor them in heart and if you need to, with your tears.
Saturday, 12 December, 2009
Paul had requested that I say a few words at his memorial service. Words are meant to describe and in this case, encapsulate a person’s life. Many words immediately come to mind when I think of Paul Boyd. Strong, grounded, intelligent, sensible, reflective, tenacious, outspoken and determined are but a few of them. One word which was not in Paul’s vocabulary was complacency. He was always trying to move forward in his life. I am sure that God (or “The Boss” as he always referred to Him as) has His hands full right now. Paul is probably giving him suggestions right now on how things could be improved up there. Or down here, for that matter.
There are other words that reflect Paul’s character as well. Kind, compassionate,loyal, caring, tender, supportive, loving, empathetic and sensitive. All of these words and the feelings attached to them were a large part of Paul. I did not know him as a kid, not really. He was just “Uncle Paul” to me. I knew that he had a bad accident as a child and had fought his way through cancer a couple of times. He was what Life refers to as “a tough customer”. I admired him for that. But other than that, I didn’t know Paul. Not the real Paul Boyd.
Many years ago, Life stepped in as it sometimes does and I was given the opportunity to know Paul. I was living in Westland and was unable to renew my lease out there. Paul heard about this and ahold of me which wasn’t easy since I had no telephone then. He told me I was welcome to move into his home on Hickory Street in Detroit. Now, if he was standing here right now, he would tell you that he was a bit apprehensive about making this offer since he didn’t know me either. Not really. I accepted and that is how the close relationship I had with Paul began. He helped me grow as a person. And conversely, I helped him grow in different areas of his own life. But, I think I got the bigger blessing out of the deal. At that point in my life, I had never come across a person, outside of my immediate family who was more encouraging and supportive with regards to my personal growth. He would always tell me “Thompson-ay, I’m on your side, no matter what!” Now, so many people say things like that. But where Paul was concerned, it was the gospel truth. When he said that, he meant it, end of story.
Paul, or “PB” as I called him and I (he called me “EA” most of the time) spent a lot of time together. We would have a few beers and solve the world’s problems, and all in one night, if you can believe that. Many times one of us would say something funny or so incredibly dumb and we would laugh until laughter became physically painful. And then we would laugh some more, each one begging the other to stop. Those were good time, good memories. I miss my friend.
I also watched as Paul grew into being a father to Kunga, Sawah and Bird. You know them as Joe, Sara and Keri. Paul poured his love and tenderness into these kids. It was really something to see and I got to see it firsthand over the years. He did his best to give them a good life. He laughed with them, encouraged them and worried over them. He really took them inside, you know? And I cannot tell you how many times over the last few years that he told me how proud he was if each one of them.
You may have noticed I’ve made no mention of a wheelchair in these memories. This is because to me, these was none. Paul did not allow the hand he’d been dealt in this life to define who he was. After getting to know Paul, you simply didn’t see a person in a wheelchair. You just saw a guy who sat down a lot. Maybe that sounds far-fetched but it is true.
Was Paul a perfect human being? No, of course not. None of us are perfect. Did he have his short-comings, his imperfections? Yes, he did as do we all. But it is important to remember that it is our imperfections combined with our strengths that brings out the best in us, that makes us who we are.
I apologize for going on and on here. It’s just that the air is thick with my memories of Paul, sort of like a gentle, heavy rain. I see his smile in my mind. I hear his laugh in my heart. I see his face before me often and I hear his voice. It’s as if he is not really gone. He was and is so much a part of me, of who I am. I miss him a lot.
In short, I have been blessed to have more than one brother in this life. By bloodline and by birth, Paul was my uncle. But by association and by choice, he was my good friend and my brother. For that I am truly grateful. I love Paul and miss him. This is probably not how a eulogy is supposed to go. I just wanted to be certain that people knew the Paul Boyd that I knew and cared about. He was one of a kind and that is the truth.
This was for PB from EA….
To those who read this, thank you for I know it was long. God’s blessings be upon you and yours. Share the love you’ve been given always.
William J. Thompson, Jr.