An Expression of Love Too Late

Too often we go through life with no inkling of the people we’ve touched or the love we inspire from others.

A lot of people loved John Boni.

I spent Thursday at the funeral home watching people pass through, paying their respects to my cousin/neighbor/friend. That evening, the line wound through two rooms in the building, out the front door and down the steps. Someone commented that the entire town was there. I’d say, more like the entire county with some traveling from other areas as well.

Yesterday, we buried John. And when I say “we” I mean one of the biggest gatherings of friends and family I’ve seen. And sadly I’ve seen way too many funerals. Two rooms in the funeral home were filled to capacity with overflow mourners standing in the back of the rooms and in the hallway. John’s son gave a heart-rendering eulogy.

I tried for the sake of my make up to control my tears, but that effort failed two minutes into the service. It was a day of outwardly showing emotion. Appearances be damned.

I’ve never seen anything like the processional from the funeral home in Burgettstown to the cemetery in rural Hanover Township. My car was positioned fairly far back. On the straight stretches, I could barely see the hearse and limousine at the front of the caravan. But when I reached the end of the long straight-aways on that road, cars stretched out behind me further than I could see. I’d have to guess the line of cars covered a mile. Maybe more. I looked heavenward at one point and said out loud, “Boni, I hope you’re watching this.”

I mentioned this to one of Patty and John’s friends later at the luncheon at the VFW and she said she’d thought the same thing and imagined his comment. “Get out!” It was his signature phrase whenever something amused or astonished him.

As if the whole situation wasn’t enough to rip one’s heart out, the funeral included full military honors, in recognition of his service in Vietnam. Twenty-one gun salutes and the playing of Taps will bring tears to my eyes when I hardly know the person being honored. This one wiped me out. Amazingly, while there was no planned military fly-over, we are close enough to the airport that a commercial airliner managed the perfect timing of roaring over our heads immediately following Taps.

I wish we didn’t all have to show our fondness for John in this manner. Celebrating a life should be done DURING the life. We should embrace our friends and family and tell them what they mean to us when they are still around to hear it. Because we never know when that opportunity will no longer be available to us.

See ya around, cuz. And don’t you and Dad give each other too hard of a time up there.

In Memory of John Boni III, 1948-2007.


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