A few days ago, I went to the memorial service of a person I had never met. He was a friend of Eric’s, an artist, specifically, a neon artist. It was a beautiful service, not without its sadnesses, naturally. Also, it was not without its laughs. It was a short service, moderated by a long time friend, wrapped up with a piano medley of Yesterday, Hey Jude, and Bridge over Troubled Water. All three of those songs were among my favorites when I was a dreamy eyed, vintage cardigan wearing misfit of a Kansas teenager, but I had not listened, really listened to them in awhile.
When you attend the funeral or memorial of a person you never knew, you get a picture of them, completely accurate or not, from the stories that are told about the deceased. I’ve thought about this man, and those stories, several times this week. And I’m not saying that the story I am sharing is the one the most defines him, this artist, but it’s the story that I thought about most, the stickiest story.
A woman got up to share the story of her friendship with the man we were honoring. She touched on what they had in common. They were both neon artists, about the same age, he from Japan, she from China. They lived near each other in Southern California. She shared that Kunio was the person who introduced olive bread to her. We all laughed when she said it, that hungry laugh of funerals where, between tears, we can chuckle and breathe, remind ourselves that we are still living. She had never had it before he served her some on a visit to his house. And she loved it and she introduced it to her husband and he loved it too. And she said that, even before Kunio’s passing, she thought about him every time she ate olive bread, even more so in the months since his passing.
I sat there wondering what Kunio would have thought about that anecdote. We live our lives trying to accomplish things, climb every mountain, make a difference, give it the old freshman try, be aggressive, make every moment count, and when we’re gone, we’re remembered for olive bread. And not even for making it, just for liking it. Well, for liking it and for sharing it.
Sharing a few slices of olive bread with a good friend on a sunny California afternoon. There’s so much more, there’s always so much more, but that’s really not such a bad way to be remembered, either.