Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur


Today was the official VA Memorial Service for Master El. (Who passed away on October 1.) It was a nice enough service, but a tad generic -- a single service for 20 military vets, in the VA Hospital Chapel, with about 60 people in the audience, I'd guess. Half a dozen or so showed up for El, and a few more got there after the service proper, due to traffic. I arrived at the same time as, and sat with, Lowell and Siggy. I was glad to be able to be there (I had had a conflict, which got cancelled at the last minute): it made quite an impression on me that he managed to be at Jane's funeral, wheelchair and all, three years ago today.

Collectively, we managed to represent his various facets -- the Pelican, the legendary fan, and the bookseller. His social worker was, I gather, more than a little surprised to see this gaggle of white folks there for him -- I get the sense that she was never quite sure how much stock to put in his stories.

It did get me thinking about what I would have said if they'd asked for a word from friends and family. This is what came out.
Master El was a giant. Even when age and infirmity stooped his back and cost him his leg, he still had more sheer *presence* than any other three men I can think of. Whether he was seated on a bench, affably telling stories, or getting up during Court to complement or castigate the King, you always knew he was there.

I've always felt it a bit of an injustice that he was never recognized as a Tyger of the East. To me, he was always *the* Tyger, laced through early Kingdom history, an inspiration to us service types who came after. He could be a pain in the ass, to be sure, especially in his later years, but every culture needs its gadflies, to keep it honest.

He defended the weak; he fought for the right; he spoke truth to power. I know few who can claim to have done better than that...
Tags: obituary

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