I did not know the man in the sailboat, I will admit that. In fact, I had never even seen a picture of him. The first time I saw him was on a TV screen, fittingly standing next to his sailboat. I mean, it was on a trailer but still it was there. And so was he. As I stood there watching image after image flicker across the screen I started to get an idea of what the Man in the Sailboat was all about. I saw pictures of family, I saw pictures of the outdoors, and I saw pictures of the work of a skilled craftsman.
The picture continued to come together as I turned around and watched the steady stream of family, friends, and loved ones who came pouring through the doors of the tiny funeral home. Oh all ages, shapes, and sizes, from all over the place, they came to pay their respects. Not exactly Lenin lying in state, but the turnout was impressive.
The comments and flowers were impressive too. The flowers were everywhere, from everyone, with the standard comments on the cards. It was, however, the comments that had been printed out from the funeral home website that sort of rounded out the picture. from friends and family and mostly former co-workers, words like integrity, intelligence, and dedication were seen over and over and over. As those words mingled with the images that were still showing on the screen, the Man in the Sailboat started to come into focus.
It is a testament to the Man in the Sailboat the number and range of things displayed on his coffin. A sail from a sailboat. A cribbage board hand made for the family. A flag folded with military precision. Intricate and beautiful carved birds, and of course a rosary held in his hands. Boating and the outdoors. Devotion to family. Service to community and country. Painstaking craftsmanship and attention to detail. God and religion.
I didn't know the Man in the Sailboat but I wish I had. I think I would have liked him. I know I could have used a dose of him; anyone can stand to get a little more of the things we just talked about in his life. It is all those things that led those legions of people to come out to honor the memory of this man, the Man in the Sailboat, who meant so much to the people around him. The type of influence, the type of consistency and reason and goodness that he provided to those fortunate enough to have known him can never be replaced. But still, a funny thing was happening.
As those pictures continued to flicker across the screen in an endless loop, there wasn't much mourning going on inside that funeral home. Oh there was mourning, don't get me wrong, but overall tone of the day seemed to be perfectly normal. People getting together after years apart. Friends and neighbors discussing everyday issues. There was definitely a feeling that life would go on without the Man in the Sailboat.
I understand this sounds callous but it was true. The feeling wasn't a sort apathetic feeling that life will go on with him, that the world won't be affected by his passing. Not at all. It was a feeling that of course he would be missed, but things will be okay. To me this speaks volumes, because everyone in the building knew that the Man in the Sailboat had done his job in life tremendously. He was able to leave, at his passing, a lineage of family and a multitude of friends who shared the same values and ideals, and who would continue on in the same manner as the Man in the Sailboat had. There was an overwhelming sense of security and stability and timelessness. It was fantastic.
So the Man in the Sailboat will be missed, as well he should be because he was a great man. However, he will continue to be among us because he was able to impart the things he believed in and the things he stood for into those around him. That is the most powerful and lasting thing he did. It was ultimately what was able to make him great, and this world was better for having him in it. Rest in peace Man in the Sailboat, and may God bless you and yours.