Today I went to a memorial service for a friend of mine who died last weekend. This blog is public so when I say this person was brilliant, kind, a true source of light and laughter, and one of the most creative people on the planet many might start searching their memories for the name of some celebrity that has died. Deforest Piper was not known in the tabloids. Other than home videos he wasn't in the movies. He never gave Katie Couric an interview-- although she should have interviewed him.
was a man who chose to play a beggar and his humor and kindness gave him the influence of a king,
dueled with bad jokes and puns,
let a treasure map be drawn on the back of his stubbly head,
made newcomers to the circle of friends feel welcome,
corrupted children with delight and nonsense,
and lived joyously without restraint-- by conscious choice.
Today approximately 50 people gathered to tell anecdotes and remember Deforest. There was candy, sugar cookies, and a whipped cream fight because he loved sweets. There was singing, poetry, tears, and smiles. And many bad jokes. Like "What does a fish say when it runs into a wall?-- Dam." Or "What is brown and sticky? A stick."
Deforest was beloved by many. Whenever anyone tried to tell him that he had it bad, he would smile, shake his head, and say that wasn't true because many people were worse off than he was. He had his friends and family. Deforest had many health issues and spent a great deal of time both in the hospital and in pain. When asked how he carried on so cheerfully, he would smile and say it was a choice and a better choice than the alternative. Deforest warmed the hearts of and gently supported many. When I decided to take up writing again he joined a writing group with myself and a few other friends. He gave me new ways to think about writing and tropes. He suggested books for me to read and we discussed the books.
For the last few hours I have been thinking about Deforest and his decision to live fully and be happy for the days of his life. We are all mortal. Life is fragile. He often pointed up the absurdity of things and how little they mattered. All the woes didn't matter so much because there were things like trees to climb, words to play with, cookies to eat, pictures to take, and more.
For today, and everyday, hug another person. See the wonder in everyday. Make great art. Write winning words. Be kind to strangers and even more kind to those you love. Smile and make others smile.
It's what Deforest would have done.