Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our Friend Douglas Richman

Ross York presented this eulogy on September 22, 2008 at the Martha-Mary Chapel in Sudbury, MA.

Douglas Richman - September 30, 1970 - September 16, 2008

Over the past days, while looking at pictures of Douglas, sharing stories and heartfelt words with friends, closing my eyes to see him in happy memories, I still feel the life within Doug, the life that he put into everything he did. That life will never go away. In our memories, we can each recall something that was uniquely "Doug:" a smile, a laugh, an expression. These are etched in our minds as the surface of our recollections. But the warmth in our hearts from these memories is his true spirit and the lasting legacy of Douglas's Life.

When I first met Douglas in college sixteen years ago, I was immediately drawn to him by his sense of humor. He could laugh at anything, and he made me and so many others want to laugh with him. Doug could keep a room full of people silent listening to one of his stories, but the silence would always be brought to an end with hysterical laughter, with Doug leading the way. His way of seeing the world and his response to it was distinct and creative. Because of his gentle ways and his unique nature, people wanted to be around him. He answered by bringing people together at his Stetson Street Apartment. Doug opened his doors to everyone and invited them to be a part of his community, even going so far as to create an unofficial fraternity. Through Doug, I met many good friends there and still look back on it as one of the best times in my life, full of joy.

It was in this apartment that so many of his early paintings and drawings were made. Doug always worked with great passion and a childlike excitement, and he could turn anything he found into his art, using old car parts, doors, house paint, or whatever we could lay our hands on at the local Salvation Army. His love for art was contagious and inspiring, and it drove me and others to follow his lead. At the times when I was most frustrated with what I perceived to be my artistic failures, ready to destroy another painting, Douglas would only see beauty and encourage me to carry on. He taught me that life's unexpected imperfections offered the opportunity to achieve unexpected splendor. He could also find beauty in almost anything, whether it was the petal of a flower, a stray feather, or a jar of Fluff, and he would only ask that you take a moment to enjoy that beauty.

As the years passed and the settings changed, Doug's impact on people never did. New friends were drawn to him and were touched by his love for life. He lived every moment with such spirit and humor, while never seeming to be weighed down by the burdens of life. Those who surrounded him were united by the happiness he inspired. I always looked forward to each time I could see Douglas as though it were a special occasion. Because it was a special occasion, no matter what we were doing. As I got to know Doug over the years, I often heard from him about his family. I came to understand that he was shaped by the loving care with which he was raised by his parents and his three sisters. In every story and in the way he would talk about his family, I could tell that Doug had always felt an unconditional love and the encouragement to truly be himself, and he had a deep love and affection for them all.

As we got older, Douglas and I would rely on each other for advice and guidance on so many matters. He taught me the proper method for buying a car, a subject he had so much experience in since it seemed he would trade in his vehicle every six months. I learned that if the salesman wasn't mad at me by the time I left with the car, I hadn't really done a good job. But Doug was always there when I needed him, whether times were good or bad. He helped me to find a career in his industry in office furniture, and I was grateful not only for the help in finding a job, but also for the opportunity to have more in common and more time spent with Doug. I would watch him and listen to him, and he was my role model for finding success through hard work and a friendly smile. I know that he had learned this from his father and uncle, who both had worked for years in the industry, and he was quietly proud to be following in their footsteps.

When Doug and Linnea found each other, I was happy for the joy and love that they had found in her. And as they were expecting the birth of Hattie, I had never seen him happier. He would draw pictures of her sonogram because he couldn't wait to meet her. He had always shown that he loved to be around children through his playful nature. And I know that he felt the same unconditional love for his new family that his family had given to him. Through the sleepless nights and stress of new parenthood, he would come to me for advice, and he understood that at times he would have to work hard at being a father and husband. But through all of this hard work, he had finally come to this time and place of great happiness. I can only be happy that he got to see these days.

In his final weeks, I would talk to Doug often and I got to see him only a little, not enough. But the time we spent was a happy time for me, and I am grateful for it. He knew that I felt like he was the brother I never had in all the years we had spent together. I never said goodbye because I never wanted to believe and I never wanted him to believe that this could happen. But I was able to tell him that I loved him. I can only be happy that I had the chance to know Douglas through all of these years and that he knew how I felt about him. I have known Doug for sixteen years, and I am grateful for every minute I was able to have with him.

I wanted to share a poem that Douglas wrote that was passed on to me from a friend. It reminds me of his attention to the small things in life, and his gentle, loving nature.

When the light rays shine through the leaves, it looks like dancing. Light itself, gathering around forming a circle and holding hands.

Sometimes when the shadows attach themselves to the undersides of these leaves it will smile, like very light caterpillars softly tickling small veins in leaves.

Sometimes when these leaves fall together they will separate and become one. They will deploy with grace, drift with caution and land with a whisper, gently laying on top of each other, slowly crumbling with time, forming a clear pattern that will dissolve even if looked at.

Sometimes these things are dancing and not meant to be seen. Some things are better off thought of and delightfully holding their hands.

Some of us can hear in the distance their light calls in the air singing and joyfully hoping that someday we will return to that place where all is peaceful. I will meet you there holding your hand.
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