On December 13, 2009, my younger brother Alan died from cancer. To mark the 1 year anniversary of that day, I am posting the text of the eulogy that I gave at his memorial service. I realize the vast majority of you, the readers of this blog, did not know him. Forgive the personal use of this space for my own continued healing.
Oh, and a note for those who read this and didn’t know Alan. He was a funeral director by trade.
Eulogy for Alan Crone.
If you gave me a single word to describe my brother that word would be “compassionate”.
The dictionary defines compassion as, “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. I can’t think of a better way to describe my brother.
Of course, if you gave me two words, it would be “compassionate jokester”. He was always quick to add humor to a difficult situation. His mischievous side would come out when you least expected it. I’m still waiting for the punchline to this latest elaborate hoax.
As a part of his compassionate nature, Alan could talk to any one about any thing. And he could do it for hours. Alan didn’t just nod his head and say “yeah”, “mm hmm”, while you were talking. Nor did he dominate the conversation, just to hear himself talk. Talking with Alan was truly a two-way dialog, the epitome of the word conversation. When you talked with Alan, you knew he was wholly present, engaged and interested.
We first realized his gift for gab when he delivered newspapers as a kid. Alan loved delivering the newspaper. Actually, it wasn’t the delivery that he enjoyed. It was doing the collection route. Most people I know who delivered papers hated collecting. Not Alan. On collection days, Alan would be gone for hours. Sometimes Mom was tempted to send out a search party. He would knock on a door, be invited inside, handed a plate of cookies, maybe a cup of hot chocolate, and he would listen patiently for as long as the person wanted to talk. He was rewarded with huge tips. But, for Alan, those tips were a side benefit. He truly enjoyed the connection with the people.
Alan inspired me. He had an incredible drive and would plow ahead until he got things done. He never let fear get in his way. Buying the business, pouring a concrete driveway, it didn’t matter. He’d just do it. He often asked me for advice. He’d take that advice, then extend it and do things in his own way. Better. I loved that. Of course, sometimes these pursuits didn’t end the way he intended. Like the time he was chasing me around the house. We were running full tilt. He failed to make the final turn and ran right into the wall.
For a long time, I had a hard time understanding Alan’s choice of profession. I couldn’t fathom having an interest in dealing with dead people. In time, I came to understand that, once again, I had it all wrong. Alan’s job was really about working with the living. He eased the burden of those who had lost a loved one. He treated everyone with dignity. He was exceptionally good at his job. I wish he were here now to help us all through this one.
Alan was full of joy. He was a truly happy person. On the rare occasions when he did feel sad, it was sadness on behalf of someone else. Throughout his illness, Alan had no sadness for himself. He never said “why me”. In fact, what he said was, “why not me?”
He had a quiet confidence that God was with him and that he would be fine, whether here or in the next part of his journey. He had a complete acceptance for whatever God had in store for him. But, it filled him with anguish to see how his illness affected everyone around him.
Alan had an incredible faith. He simply believed.
A few weeks ago I heard a sermon that really struck me. I thought, “Wow, that’s Alan.” The minister read the following quote from a book by Francis Chan. “I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know I couldn’t be doing this by my own power.”
I don’t know if Alan felt that way, but I do know that there is no way to explain Alan without the Holy Spirit. I hope to someday believe the way that Alan believed.
Alan and I loved to share with each other whatever was new in our lives. From the latest gadget to plans for remodeling, to bragging about our girls. When I would visit, there was always something that caused him to say, “Come here, let me show you something.”
I know that right now, Alan is in heaven. I don’t know what heaven is or what it looks like, but I know he’s there with a big grin on his face. He’s sharing a joke. He is making everyone around him laugh. He is excited about all of the cool new things he is experiencing, eager to share it. And he’s concerned for those he has left behind. He is asking us to continue on. He’s telling us that he’s doing fine.
When it’s my turn to go, I don’t expect to meet St. Peter at the pearly gates. It’s going to be Alan, waiting for me with that big grin on his face, saying, “Come here, you gotta’ see this!”
Alan, I have always been proud to be your brother.