Chris Amon - 1978 - 2003
Our lives are so busy these days. Half of us seem to be juggling two jobs and still struggle just to make ends meet. Many of us, especially the ones with children, seem to be going in a dozen different directions at any one time. Whether it is to a job, or a service organization, a church group, or our children, we all have commitments. Most of the time we don't even think of them in those terms. But that is what they are. We are committed to those things or these people. We are bound to them in ways that we can't even define. And these ties that bind us are not forced upon us, not imposed from the outside. These commitments are simply the ways in which we have chosen to spend our time, willingly, unselfishly, in a way that is giving and from the heart. And in the end, it is what truly and essentially defines who we are. Because in the end, we are remembered by who and what we love.
And how will Chris be remembered? Like most of us, his obituary will not appear in the Who's Who. and People Magazine won't be hounding any of us later on for details or tantalizing snippets of his life. He will not have left behind much in terms of an accumulation of wealth. He was not concerned with things, he asked for very little and made no demands at all. He cared little for the things of this world… except for his guitar, of course. That went with him wherever he made his home. Through times of trouble and chaos in his life he always found solace in his music. It kept him focused and grounded at times and provided a source for his creativity.
All of us who knew Chris know that he had his share of troubles in this world. In his short time among us, he seemed to be struggling with one problem or another. And, oh, how he struggled, always it seemed one step forward, two steps back. But he was always willing to pick it up again, always clear about the straight path up ahead… you know the road I'm talking about, the one that is so clear and easy to see the morning after every night before. That bright and shiny elusive path that is so easy to stray from, so easy to slip-slide upon that by the next morning after you find yourself waking up sidelined once more on another detour.
So, what's my point? In describing this particular aspect of his life, his sorrows and his struggles and his lost battles, it should be evident that Chris was about the same as 99.9% of the rest of us. He will not be remembered, however, for his mistakes or folly, because they are not memorable. In fact, they are simply a condition of being human, a part of the very fabric of our own lives. Nothing unique there. But Chris Amon was unique and in some way or another he touched the lives of all of us gathered here today. And we will remember him, not for his mistakes but for those qualities and attributes that made him that special and endearing human being that made it easy for us to love him. And everyone's memory will focus on a slightly different aspect of his character, a slightly different Chris. And each will have their own stories to tell. But if you listen closely you will find that certain threads are woven into all the stories that will be told about Chris.
All the stories that will be shared about Chris will celebrate his life. They will remind us of why we will miss him and why our lives will be diminished with him gone. We will come to recognize that a bright candle has been extinguished from our midst. We will grieve at the loss and our grief will be for our own selves and in our stories we will hear about a person who made the world a brighter place with his smile and his generosity and very large spirit. We will wonder how bright that candle could have been. Mostly we will come to miss his incredible, wry sense of humour. There will be stories from those who knew him longest about his passionate sense of independence even as a baby. (Some would call it stubbornness or maybe the need to take things to the limit.) There will be stories about his intelligence and how quick he was to learn new things. There will be stories of his caring nature and his generosity. These are the threads that we will all recognize and the very things that make him memorable to us.
There will be stories that describe a side of Chris' young life that many might not have seen before. They will speak about passions in his life. In certain cultures, when a man dies, the only question asked is, "Did he have passion?" And those who knew Chris will happily attest to his passion for his music, his passion for creating through art, his love for his family and friends. They will also attest to his love for his Faith. Chris was a Baha'i. He was proud to be a Baha'i. He took the teachings of Baha'u'llah to heart, believing wholeheartedly in the fundamental goodness of human beings and in the possibility of a united world, free from prejudice, hatred, inequality and injustice. He taught the Faith wherever he went. He sometimes fell short of the ideals that his beliefs demanded. Once again, in that he was just like all the rest of us.
Unlike most of us, however, Chris was the first to admit it. Self-effacing and unassuming, he was the first to point out his own faults, but the last to judge others. He was the first to offer understanding of the faults of others, but never made demands of his own. Chris wore a "mantle of courtesy"; he not only never spoke unkindly about others, he showed forth genuine kindness. He was generous, caring, giving and, in short, a loving human being… all this in spite of his tests and difficulties, with which he had to contend on a daily basis.
But why am I telling you all this, those of you who knew him, who have come here to mourn his passing and to celebrate his life? You already know these things. I asked earlier, How will Chris be remembered? I think I have answered that. He will be remembered for his legacy of love, kindness, humour, gentle nature and generosity of spirit. My last question is How can you measure that legacy? That's the easiest one of all. It is measured by the number of souls he has touched in his lifetime and by the depth of their sadness. Why is it that we should all come together in this place on this day, except to grieve for the loss of this love? As a brother or a son or a grandson, as a cousin or as a friend, Chris has a place in each of our hearts. In matters of the heart, he was a person of great capacity. You will see this is true as you share your stories.
Share your stories, especially the joyful ones. Chris would like that, just as I am sure he would like this little send off we have arranged to remember him by. What do you think he is doing right now, wherever you might imagine him to be? He's probably making fun of us all right at this moment, probably trying to figure out a way to add another page to his website, Amonworld.com. Check it out sometime.