Thank you for coming today to celebrate the memory of this man. Dwayne would've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection and support you have all shown me and his family during this time. In many ways, he was such a private person that I don't think he had any idea how well loved and respected he was, and what sort of an impact he had on other people's lives. Over and over again I've had people tell me how much they'll miss his infectious smile and his goofy humor, or tell me stories about a few of their adventures with Dwayne. If you had a chance to look at some of the photos on the displays, you can see that I included just about everything--from the serious to the silly, because that's what Dwayne's life was. His life was about joy, laughter and love, not about illness or death. I doubt he'd approve that I included the photos of him in my sister Michelle's jack-o-lantern halloween costume, or of the one of him with my bra on his head, but I wanted to make sure that the past few months wasn't the only memory some people had of him. This man was the best time I'd ever had, and kept me happy for twenty years.
It seems kind of inadequate to try to sum up a man's life in just a few minutes, especially when the person I'm talking about is Dwayne, who was so complex and unusual. It's human nature to try to pigeonhole people into the most convenient stereotype, by the clothes they wear or how much education they had or by what they drive or the length of their hair. Dwayne defied stereotypes. I want to share with you some of the things that weren't as well knownóhow Dwayne loved Beethoven and Glenn Miller nearly as much as AC/DC and Megadeath, how he often was secretly generous with his money to those in need, how he was always working his way through a book (one of his coworkers described his science fiction books as "those books with the ugly covers"). He was passionately interested in history, especially that of the Civil War and World War II. He was an avid gamer--cards, computer and role playing. He was a scuba diver and a gifted golfer, and kept a wicked sense of humor to the end. He would talk tough, but secretly doted on his grumpy one-eyed cat at home and wrote me love letters. He judged people on their own merits and actions, not on other people's opinions or gossip. He was often happiest at home, away from groups of people, but loved our trips to Vegas with friends, and always seemed to win enough to pay for his trip. Most of the rest of us could've just flung our money on the floor at the casino entrance and had better results than we did when we gambled. His life wasn't about the last ten months--it was about him riding his bike as a boy, making tree forts in the canyon, going to Powell's and finding the perfect book to add to his collection, laughing with friends in someone's smoky basement, taking pride in doing a good job at work, that unfortunate firecracker incident up by the hospital which gave him his first ride in a police car (but we won't go into that, now , will we? :) His life was about the pride he felt in his first car, falling in love, buying a house, camping trips with friends and family, falling out of trees, weekly date nights with his wife, a box of baby snakes in his boyhood bedroom that turned out to not be very snake-proof, how great he looked in a tux at his wedding, his joy at setting up whatever new computer he had bought because he just HAD to have the latest model, hating mowing the lawn, going shooting with friends, teaching me how to ride a dirt bike. When you think of Dwayne, don't think of sadness--think of 38 years lived in adventure and happiness.
Dwayne and I got to spend nearly every day together, while we were both at home during this past year. True, he was going through treatment, but just like any experience, it taught us a lot of things. The most important of these I want to share with you today. We learned that life is a journey, not a destination. Yes, make sure you're pointed in the right direction, but enjoy the journey. Kiss people when you can, really taste the food you're eating, actually see the scenery on the drive on the way to work. Look people in the eye and smile when you walk past them. Laugh every chance you get! :) Don't take time or people for granted, because both are precious and limited. If you look around this room, there are people you know and like, but who you probably don't see very often, except for weddings and funerals. That's a pity. Don't wait to be happy--use your good china, write those letters, take those chances, love those people now. As weird as it sounds, some day all of us will have someone at a podium trying to sum our life after we die. How we live before then, and how we love, is the only variable, and that is up to us.
The ushers were passing out butterflies earlier, with a verse printed on the back. I deliberately chose this image, because I believe in what it represents--transformation. We cry today because Dwayne is not with us, but love does not die. Energy does not cease to exist. Whatever your beliefs, I can tell you that Dwayne was more than the sum of his body, and the beating of his heart. I believe he continues.
If you think about it, nothing about Dwayne was average or usual---not his height or his taste in music or his humor or the happiness of his marriage. To wrap up this eulogy, I'd like to do something unusual, too. Dwayne would've been 39 a couple of days ago, and we never got a chance to throw him a birthday party. I'd like to ask you to all join me in singing "Happy Birthday" to him, loud enough and joyfully enough that he'll hear it in the afterlife, and know that we truly celebrate all those years that we had him here, with us. Please join me in singing
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Dwayne
Happy Birthday to you!
Beach House weekend
Beach Beach house weekend
vegas, 1998 Dwayne at 15Christmas 2000Christmas Day 2000