The funeral was on Friday. It was at the Legion. The most important portion of the service was the contributions made by family and friends who shared a little piece of how their lives had been touched by this man.
We heard from a son just how much his father meant to him. We heard about those lectures that went on and on, every weekend, and how they always ended with "I love you" and then were forgotten about - until next weekend.
We heard from a step-daughter who couldn't speak without sobbing about this man who was no longer here. Who let us all know how lucky she had been to have had two sets of parents.
We heard stories from a friend about how this man never complained, ever. Not about living with one arm paralyzed after a run-in with a moose. Not about his night-blindness that he knew would eventually steal his vision altogether.
We heard humorous stories from more than one person about how he would walk into inanimate objects and apologize to them.
And we heard from the man that was first married to his wife. We heard how this man called up "the ex" and directly asked where he stood with him. How he always asked for his input on raising his step-daughter. And we heard how grateful he was that this man came into his ex-wife's life. How grateful he was to have found a new friend.
This was Bill. I met him when I was a teenager. He was my best friend's step-dad. But it wasn't until I moved to this city that I came to know him. I was apprehensive about spending time with him because most of what I knew of him came from the angst of a teen. To be honest, I was pretty sure he was a bully and a big jerk.
Many years later I would see him again at my best friend's wedding. This also happened to be where I met her close cousin, now my boyfriend of six years. I was completely taken aback at how welcome Bill made me feel. I wasn't in the wedding party. I didn't hold this against her. I was living in a different province after all, and honestly, we had grown apart over the years. But Bill seemed to take it personally, and he just wouldn't let it go. He could not understand why I was not the maid-of-honour. I was secretly pleased.
I will never forget how he tried to shelter me from his nephew. Everybody watched and laughed as my best friend's cousin would inch closer and closer to me on the couch, and I would inch closer and closer to the edge of the couch until there was no where left for me to go. How Bill, half joking, half serious, told him to "leave her alone! She's a nice girl!" How he told me over and over how beautiful I was, inside and out. This changed as he got to know me of course, but he always let me know that he cared. He always made me feel like I was a part of his family.
Even on those bad nights.
Over time, my opinionated-nature came out around Bill, who was also very opinionated. And stubborn. And sometimes a little belligerent when drinking. I was not the only one left with memories of arguments, some more bitter than others. I remember one night, we were all drinking at his house, and somehow Bill and I got into it over something I don't even remember. Whatever it was, it resulted in Bill saying something pretty mean, that really touched a nerve. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried until Bill somehow unlocked the door and hugged me and took it all back.
It was impossible to hold a grudge against Bill. It's true that I had once again become a little apprehensive about spending time with him. You just never knew what would come out of his mouth next. But this didn't change what I had come to know as his truth.
And his truth was love. Whatever else happened, you always knew that one fact.
That he loved. A lot. And he was loved. A lot. And that's a truth that will never die.
We love you Bill.