I went to a funeral today.
Funerals like to say things like “in celebration of the life of…”, but this is the first time I’ve felt they really meant it.
Corbin Kidder was this guy. He was one of my customers when I was running an internet service. He was my spouse’s former spouse’s father. He was the guy who used to run an annual party for the local BBS community in pre-internet days. (It was called “Pascettifest”, because he served pascetti.)
His address labels called him “Corbin Kidder, Transit Advocate”, and they were not kidding. The funeral was accessible by bus. His ashes will be scattered someplace accessible by bus.
I met someone from my church there. Given that I only know about ten people at my church, you might think that odd, but it’s not. After all, the place was packed. I don’t just mean standing-room only. I mean that, after it got to be standing room only in the main room of the church, they opened up another room so people could at least listen to the PA system, and that filled up too, so they added folding chairs for the people who couldn’t just stand. The walls were lined with people.
Trying to assign demographics to such a crowd is ridiculous. Old and young, every skin color, every hair color. I saw someone with fire-engine red dreadlocks. It was just all these people who knew Corbin one way or another, and with all the activities he threw himself into, there were a lot of such people.
The service was interpreted in sign language for the hearing impaired. Not something you see every day, but something that you would expect for the memory of a tireless advocate of the oppressed. It was, of course, accessible by public transit. The stories were beautiful. I was particularly fond of the story one of his sons told, of asking his father once “Is that the hotel where the bums stay?” The response was utterly typical of Corbin: “Don’t you EVER call them bums. They are human beings.”
The recessional hymn was Solidarity Forever, a hymn you rarely hear sung in churches. But then, Corbin wasn’t one of those people whose devotion to Jesus was best expressed by telling people who they should sleep with; it was expressed in eighty-some years of constant efforts on behalf of the poor and the downtrodden.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much laughter or joy at a funeral. The man knew how to throw a party. And now that he’s gone, I think it’s safe to say that Heaven will be installing light rail. If not, he’ll start writing letters until they do. Thanks, Corbin, for all the memories.
Date: 2007-03-21 10:24:08 -0500
Thank you, sir. I wish I’d gotten a chance to hang out. I’ll be back in July.