richard vincent paulos
father greg miller
lisa barton paulos
benjamin webb, son-in-law
good morning. we are obviously all here to celebrate the life of the beloved dick paulos. we are going to begin with some music. the 1st piece is "aura lee" - a piece that both my daughter phoebe and rachel played for dick. he loved it . they last played it for him last may. following that piece, rachel will play "ave maria".
rachel paulos, no. 4 daughter and phoebe webb, no. 2 grand daughter
Áura lee §ý Áve maria
oh god of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother richard. we thank you for giving him to us. his family and friends, to know and to love as a companion ,on our earthly pilgrimage. in your boundless compassion, console us and mourn. give us faith to see in them, the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until ,by your call, we are reunited with the great company of immortals who have gone before us. a reading from "the book of Isaiah" from greg.
father greg miller, nephew,
a reading from the book of isaiah
"the spirit of the lord god is upon me, because the lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our god; to comfort all who mourn; to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a state of faint spirit. they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the lord, to display his glory.
a reading from psalm 90.
lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, from age to age, you are god. you turn us back to dust and say "go back, o child of earth". for a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past. like a watch in the night. you sweep us away like a dream; we fade away suddenly like the grass. in the morning it is green and flourishes. in the evening it is dried up and withered. we bring our years to an end like a sigh. the span of our life is 70 years. perhaps in strength even 80. yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone. so teach us to number our days, so we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
and now a reading from the wisdom of solomon,
read by scott.
scott steward, son-in-law,
a reading from
the wisdom of solomon
that the souls of the righteous are in the hand of god, and no torment will ever touch them. in the eyes of the foolish, they seem to have died. and their departure is thought as a disaster. and their going from us to be their destruction. but they are at peace. although in the sight of others, they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. having been disciplined a little, they will receive great joy because god tested them and found them worthy of himself.
i invite becca forward to read "after a dream", after which, rachel will play the music.
reading after a dream
in a slumber charmed by your image,
i dreamed of happiness, ardent mirage.
your eyes were more tender, your voice pure and clear. you were radiant like a sky brightened by sunrise.
you were calling me, and i left the earth. to flee with you towards the light: the skies opened their clouds for us, splendors unknown, glimpses of divine light.
alas, alas, sad awakening from dreams !
i call to you, oh night, give me back your illusions;
return, return with your radiance.
return, oh mysterious night !
rachel plays "after a dream"
it is now a time for stories about a man who is full of stories. i want to first invite forward andy reagan, his lifelong friend. and i want to invite any who follow, probably to come up here, i think it's mostly necessary to be heard.
andy reagan, lifelong friend
no one likes to attend funerals. for you feel the person who is here, you don't know. i don't know this idol. for me, dick paulos is the kid who lives between the campbells and the nolans on harrison street. he's the adversary i had at a high school convention to select a candidate for boy's state. from central high - his. from st. ambrose academy - mine. he won. in college, he's a fellow actor in an off-the-wall production of piramus and thisbee for midsummer nights dream. in straw hat theatre, with don denny, abby and jean-marie. in the first live transmission of tv in davenport from the top of the old parker's building. an actor and a director for the genesius guild. he's the guy that lives up on wilkes street that i take up to play tennis with marge week and gary week. and for a variety of double dates. he's the navigator on a wandering trip to visit elmer white and always winds up on clark street, no matter what town we're in.
he lives with maggie and the children in an apartment above his folks on 2nd street. to which we return most saturday nights for pizza, after a movie. once were greeted by a bright babysitter who said " well, what didn't you like about the movie tonight?" he's a dinner guest, who can embarrass maggie by expressing dislike for the idea of my mother's prune pie, and after tasting it, equally embarrass her by requesting it at every subsequent occasion. but he'll settle for chocolate cake.
he's the father of eight children who have become almost nieces and nephews to me. there are few trays of our holiday slides that don't contain both paulos' and reagans. he's an inspiration and a critic of an improbable exuberance of shows i did, of which maggie usually found the practical solution. he's the busy attorney, that always had time to stop for a laugh or a comment. he was my support in triumph and trouble. he is my friend. which i define as someone that knows the worst about me, and likes me anyways.
dick paulos likes words. in puzzles and in a wide range of reading, where his curiosity takes him. he likes their origins and preciseness. he has little patience for those who use them wrong, or worse, to deceive.
rightly proud of his greek heritage, for the way they define and codified so many great ideas, for him i would excerpt these lines from sophocles -
"wondrous are the world's works, but none more wonderful than man. all nature is changing. words and thoughts, as rapid as air, he fashions to his good use. stagecraft is his, and skill that deflects arrows and snow, spears of winter rain. from every wind, he has made himself secure. from all that was. in the late wind of death, he cannot stay. "
in shakespeare -
"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!".
martha paulos, no. 1 daughter
well, as usual, andy is a hard act to follow. i was thinking about much how dad loved old movies. and how he knew the plots and every minor actor in every movie. one of his favorite movies was "the miracle of morgan's creek". he always used to say "ignatz ratsky-watsky", which was a character in the movie, but dad always used it as a swear word.
and then i started thinking about the movie "it's a wonderful life" that's on tv every year. and after meeting so many people who are dad's friends at the visitation yesterday, it made me think of george bailey, the character jimmy stewart played in the movie. there were alot of parallels. like george bailey, he wanted to leave his town. so, he went to NYC. he always told us great stories about what a magical place it was. it made me feel like i knew NYC. after law school, he came back to davenport. like george bailey, always had a soft spot for the underdog. he was always willing to crusade for fairness over financial gain. like george bailey, he made a difference in many people's lives. his kindness, his humor. but unlike george bailey, he was a real man, and had a real wonderful life.
bentham paulos, no. 3 son
my dad was always a big fan of shakespeare and was writing a book about shakespeare,actually. off and on. here's one thing shakespeare said that everybody seems to think was written about my dad.
"He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one.
Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading:
Lofty and sour to them that loved him not;
But to those men that sought him,
sweet as summer."
"he was a scholar, and a ripe and good one. Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading..."
he was a man of many words, and yet not all words have been spoken between us. his life was an unending stream of words. his writing. his reading. he has read thousands of books in his life. countless books. in fact, i looked next to his bed the other day when i came home and he'd been reading, as usual, books from all different ideas. "the language of argument", "twilight of the hapburgs", "the robber barons"
he was especially interested in history. but he had a never ending curiosity , never ending quest for learning, all through childhood, law school, college, all the way up....til monday. i was surprised myself, and pleased, my own interest, is in energy, renewable energy and the environment, and i was so happy that he picked up that interest, because i was interested. and he did that with all his children. he learned about what his children learned about. and it made me feel very good. he very much lived a life of his mind. its a shame that we all need a body to carry our thoughts around in.
i was trying to find a quote the other day, from a play he acted in at st. ambrose called "you can't take it with you". he played grandpa in that show, grandpa who retire 35 years ago and who lived in a chaotic, eccentric household with constantly being interrupted by dancers, musicians and the interesting friends of the family. i had a hard time finding a quote from it because i was constantly interrupted at home, by a household full of dancers and musicians. so i found shakespeare instead.
"...he was Lofty and sour to them
that loved him not..."
i will always remember dad's heroes and villains. in davenport and outside. to be shakespearian, he could shower a 'calumny of oaths' on them that loved him not. richard nixon for example. b.l. figgey, whom we always called BO figgey. he lived in davenport all his life and cared very much what happened in the city. he grew up on harrison street. he worked downtown and on the arsenal. he practiced law on harrison street for 35 years. in a way, i think of him as a symbol of the city. he had no use for the ugly suburban sprawl. and he watched in pain as the center of the city has fallen into decline. when he was a young man, he was dynamic and active and healthy. and the city was healthy. as he aged, the city declined. to me, in a way, he is davenport.
"But to those men that sought him,
he was sweet as summer..."
mom can tell a lot of stories and we all can , about his clients. all the people he helped in his life, in his law practice and outside it. jonathan gave me a description of dad's job one time, which was and he stood up in front of judges and say "forgive my client your honor, he's really stupid". so, he was sweet as summer, but he was also not. he spoke his mind.
he was always committed to racial equality from the very beginning. he did a survey in 1947, when he was at st. ambrose. about racial attitudes in davenport. 1947 was quite a while ago. 40 years later, he worked for the davenport civil rights commission. that's one thing he's especially imparted in me, is service to society. my name even, is bentham, after jeremy bentham. who was an important social philosopher in england 18th century, who always crusaded for equality under law. and that was a radical new idea.
"O, good old man, how well in thee appears
The constant service of the antique world,
When service sweat for duty, not for meed!
Thou art not for the fashion of these times,
Where none will sweat but for promotion."
that's from as you like it.
i have a lot of words to remember my dad by. and these are some of them. but to me, the strongest memories won't be in words. they will be memories that i carry with me, unspoken, for the rest of my life.
rachel paulos, no. 4 daughter
next ! i come after ben, so i get to go next.
i wanted to share a few things about pop. i have this great memory of mom and dad coming down for my last masters recital in kansas city. it was great that they could come. and hear me play. dad had had ear surgery previous to my recital, about a month before. and so he was in recovery. his ear, his good ear, his right ear, and we weren't sure that he was going to hear me or not. so i had it all set up with my recording engineer that dad was going to come and sit in the recording booth, with headphones on, cranked. so he could definitely hear. and it turned out he didn't need to. his ear got better.
i gave my recital in this huge hall. humongous hall. it was either that or a little dinky hall. and the big hall had better acoustics, so i picked the big hall, even though it looked like you were playing to nobody. because everybody sits in the back. you walk out and it's just empty - 'huh, i'm so nervous, for nothing' . the light from the stage lit about maybe 15 rows and then beyond that, everybody was in the back. except mom and dad , of course. they sat in the 10th row. i walk out and (said to myself) 'there's mom and dad !' 'okay. i'm playing for mom and dad !'. and i was nervous, of course. and i walk out and see them and i'm still nervous. but i'm okay. and i start playing. and i'm totally focusing on my music. and then i have this little distraction out of the left hand...to my left..and it's DAD ! - conducting. my nerves just went 'schoop !' - gone. completely gone, because he likes to conduct.
2 more things i want to say. last night, father greg miller talked about how dad gave of his time. and that really meant a lot. i want to thank my dad for doing that. for so many people. and especially for me. i have a few things i am thankful for. thank you dad, for putting huppy into the back of the moped, the basket on the back, and going slowly over to duck creek park to watch me play softball. thanks for being at my soccer games, my cross country meets, my track meets, all my concerts. i don't remember those times without thinking of my dad. i remember those times and i remember my dad's face - yelling or cheering or clapping or yelling bravo or whatever.
he also used to stand behind me when i practiced at home; which was SO frustrating , because i was little and i was a brat. and i didn't want him to. but i continued to play when dad was back there. and i now realize that he knew exactly what he was doing and now when i play, alot of times, dad is still back there. still listening to me, soaking up all my sound. that's a sweet sweet memory now.
last thing i want to say, and then i'll sit down, is that i want to talk about dad's heart. his heart's what finally stopped. his sweet warm open loving heart. and i'm thankful to his heart for letting us have him for 73 years. i want to ask everyone to take your hand and put it on your own heart. gently. and wish peace to dad's heart. and wish peace to your own heart. i love you, dad.
andrea paulos, no. 3 daughter
i'm glad that i got to hear everybody else talk. because alot of all this talking is about dad talking. my story is not about that at all. when you walk in my house, where i live, my little house, in san francisco, there are these photos framed, and there is one of me and dad - dancing. someone's wedding , we're out in the back hallway, dancing. if you look at the photo, it looks like he's leading. it looks like we're really dancing. but we're not. he just grabbed me and made a big dramatic sweep. it wasn't dancing. to me. but i still just liked that he was goofing around a little bit and i usually would feel a little irritated and start to lead. so essentially, i was leading most of the time when i was dancing with dad. and i think he liked that. it was fine with him, because he liked to dance with me.
you may look at mom and think that i got my dancing dna from her, because she is so incredibly physical and healthy and active. i would say i definitely got the body from mom. but i feel like the dancer in me comes from dad directly, and it's more hard to believe, maybe because he has such a frail, non-physical kind of body. that it is stuck inside. i feel he has always had the soul of a dancer. i've known that for a long time. even though he never danced, i knew that he was a dancer, even though he'd never take a real dance step.
a couple of christmases ago, we had a dance party in the dining room, like we sometimes do. we roll up the rug and i was gonna teach some dance lessons. i brought all different kinds of music. we made an invitation and invited everybody in the house. hand-delivered invitation. we made one invitation and passed it around. so, at the hour of the party, all these girls show up in incredible party dresses. and one boy shows up. dad. all the girls are hot to dance. and we danced with each other, like we always do. i taught the balboa, cha cha, the waltz, we had a great time. dad wasn't really into it, but he was there.
then i taught the argentine tango. which is a beautiful walking dance that they do in argentina . very soulful, very....kind of ......it's the experience that happens deep inside you. it's not a superficial moving kind of dance. dad got up and learned the basic step. and kept practicing it. hannah - he was doing it with you. i have this image totally burned in my head . hannah and dad. he's practicing it back and forth - he was DANCING. he was totally dancing. the argentine tango. the music was beautiful. that was the first time i knew the dancer inside of him came out. and it was so great - i felt so happy about that. thanks for the dance, dad.
jonathan paulos, no.2 son
(and lydia, no 5 grand-daughter)
i'm sitting back there and lydia was getting a little restless. and i had some stuff written out here,i printed it out neatly on the computer, so now it's covered in blue crayon.
the shakespeare bug never really bit me, so i don't have any really good quotes from dad's favorite author. one of the things that he had a strong interest in , partly because of his heritage, partly because of his interest in history, was ancient greece. both ben and i went and got our undergraduate degrees in classical studies. i had it drilled into my brain for four years, so i know alot about it. one of the things that struck me was that, if you've ever read homer, the iliad and the odysseys, men knew they would die. and they hoped that they would die gloriously. they wanted to do glorious deeds, so that they would live on in people's memories. people would talk about them and remember them, because of the things they had done, the wonderful things they had done. i think as you've known him, as you've heard from everyone today, you will agree that he will live on in people's memories for a long time.
but another thing that struck me, in a way, he'll continue on through his children. and the generations beyond. in things he liked to do, carried on to things that we liked to do. and things that he did carried on to things that we do. here's some examples.
if you've ever visited the house, you know that he really liked to read. he didn't just kind of like to read, he really liked to read. there is no room in the house, kitchen included, that is not stuffed with books. you can see that carried on in his children. we have a rule in my household now that i am not allowed to buy any more new books, unless i get rid of something. i have a box of books hidden in the basement now. i hope lisa isn't listening. if you go to rick's house, rick has part of the attic converted to bookshelves that lisa will not allow him to bring out of the attic. many of us like to read. as ben was telling you , he was looking through his nightstand at his books. i kind of have a problem right now, that i'm very lucky in that my nightstand is pushed into a corner, because the only way it's ever going to hold all those books. i didn't realize this, but i am also in the process of reading "the robber barons". although i suspect dad was reading it as a way of getting to sleep. the another thing you'll notice. its not just us in this generation that like to read. i brought a book down from madison for hannah that i knew she'd like,and when i handed it to her, that was pretty much the last anyone has seen of her. i don't think she's quite finished it yet. "have you, hannah ?". it's a book about two inches thick and a foot and a half long. i think she's got it almost done.
another thing you're aware, and you've heard today, is that dad really loved the fine arts. he was involved in the theatre as a performer, a director, as a support person and many other things. and that's carried on in his children also. martha has pursued the visual arts; painting , printing, lithographs and such. rachel, as you are aware, as you heard earlier, is pursuing a career as a classical musician. andrea has pursued dance to a significant degree, she actually got her degree in dance. and is pursuing it even now as a lifelong pursuit. i think we all enjoy going to theatre, going to dance performances, musical performances.
dad liked to write. as you probably heard, he was working on some shakespeare material. that's been carried on through ben, starting to write articles, starting to take up writing as part of his life. and the advent of the internet has suddenly sprung the whole family back into connection with each other. with any luck, we'll have our last sibling online in the next few months. i've gotten more letters in the last 6 months than i got my entire life from all my siblings before they got online. i think we all like to write and it makes it much easier. so we are all pursuing what dad really liked.
he really valued education. of his 8 children, there are 8 undergraduate degrees, 2 completed graduate degrees, and one graduate degree in process right now. he placed a high value on that and carried it on into his children.
another one of his behaviors, shall we say, was that he had real penchant for starting projects around the house and not finishing them. and if you go down to the basement, the basement is stuffed, absolutely stuffed, with unfinished projects. i wouldn't even care to count them all. things that he had started. and he was always working on them, but there was nothing ever quite finished. he even imposed that on his children. in august, my parents came up to madison. there was a table that he had given me out of his office when he retired. the finish on the top was pretty bad. they prevailed on me to haul it out to the garage and we started refinishing it, stripping it down. they got about half way done, the weekend was over and they left. it's still out in the garage. if you look at my basement, you'll see i don't know how many unfinished projects. if you go to rick's basement, you'll see quite a few. i haven't been into martha's house lately, but i imagine the same thing exists there. ben hasn't been in his house that long, but i'm sure if you trot down there, you'll see some pretty interesting sights.
the last thing is , he had - how would you say it ? - he had a real joy for life . he believed in doing. he wasn't the person to just sit there and watch the theatre, but he would go out and do it. he was so active, probably a good word to describe it, might even be obstreperous. i was reminded of a story. and he told me this story, i don't know how many times when i was growing up. i finally heard the other side, the second version, from aunt bobbe last night. bobbe, who is dad's sister. when they were young, and i'm not sure exactly where they were living, i 've heard 2 different locations, but they lived on the side of the hill somewhere downtown here. on harrison ? bobbe said eighth street. dad said harrison. we'll let it go. when they were young, grandpa, his father, george paulos, was in the habit, when he got home, he'd park the car facing down the hill. all he'd do is leave it out of gear, leave the parking brake off, but just turn the wheels toward the curb. well, one day, dad and bobbe got in the car. bobbe was the slightly older of the two, so she got to drive. so she's sitting in the driver's seat, steering the steering wheel, shouting "look at me , i'm driving !". and she managed to turn the wheels away from the curb. and the car started rolling down the hill. and it started going faster. dad was thrilled. oh my gosh ! bobbe was shouting "look at me, i'm driving i'm driving !". and dad was screaming, jumping up and down in the back, shouting "faster! faster ! faster! faster ! ". apparently, grandpa was sitting in the front room and saw the car rolling past the front window , dropped what he was doing and dashed out the front door. apparently made a diving leap through the open passenger window and jammed on the parking brake, just in time to keep the car from smashing into a building.
i keep thinking about that " faster faster faster !!!". because what we have right now is 2 obstreperous children, one of them is almost 2, and the other one is is coming up on 5. one of the things they like to do (they share a room at the moment) alex will get up on his bed and start jumping and lydia will get on her bed and start jumping and egg him on. whenever things start slowing down a bit, when he starts slowing down, she'll jump a little more, and he'll see her and he'll laugh and he'll jump a little more. and it'll start him going. and of course, his going will cause her to shriek and jump. they egg each other on. a vicious cycle that happens too often at bedtime.
now, whenever i see alex jumping up and down on bed trying to get as high as he can, and lydia trying to launch herself through the ceiling; what i'm going to see is, partly i'm going to see alex, jumping and shrieking, and partly i'm going to see my dad, jumping and shrieking and shouting "faster faster faster faster !!!! "
so to close, i would like to say, we carry him on in our hearts and in our memories, but also we carry him on in our bodies and what we do.
lisa barton paulos, daughter-in-law
hi. i am one of the two lisa pauloses. daughter-in-law to dick by marrying the eldest son rick. dickie, as dick would call him. i always liked that, but it seemed to be a thing between them and i never said anything, but i always liked it when he called him that. i want you to know that it was pretty difficult being an in-law to this family, as other people have noticed. i've never been an in-law before, i didn't really know much about it. being an in-law to this family was a real learning experience. this family's real different from my own. it seems that's a common thing among people who aren't pauloses. the paulos family is real different than their own, so i didn't feel too bad about feeling that way. i fit in one way, because rick and i have a tie that binds us through cycling, and that was a nice way that i felt i could fit into the family. i think for a while, some people even thought i was rick's sister, instead of his wife. because they would see us riding and i would be with the family. that was okay with me, i was in the family one way or another.
the way that i didn't really fit in was intellectually. i found that out many times when rick would tell me about jon and ben having their college degrees in the classics and i thought "what are those ?". i found out, but i really didn't have a clue. dick would talk to me about the byzantine empire and greek mythology and it wasn't just going like this (hand passing over her head) it was going like this !! (hand going very high above her head). i would just kind of sit there and nod my head, but i tell ya, i just didn't have a clue. that didn't seem to bother him. he was always nice about it. he knew that i wasn't a real paulos, i was an in-law. so that was okay that i wasn't quite into all their pursuits. but i would learn. right, i know, i was a work-in-progress. that's how he thought about me.
at one of rick's birthday picnics, i heard dick talking to someone, that he just couldn't' imagine people going through life not knowing about homer. it's funny that jon mentioned homer, because i didn't have the heart to tell him (dick) that the only homer i knew was homer simpson. but i was one of those people, there in his own family, and i thought i shouldn't tell him that now. the qualities that his children inherited genetically, i kind of had to get through osmosis, and as ben said, i needed more time than the rest of them had, to become more of a real one than just an in-law. he is the only person, i can honestly say i know, who would find it easier to teach chess to 5th graders than to go outside and pull some weeds. and that's the opposite of my family.
as greg miller said last night - dick was so smart. that was something that made a real impression on me. he had a great mind. he had such a great memory. one thing i was able to share with him was his love of old movies and the stories he would tell from decades ago. even though his stories were of people i didn't know, or places in davenport, that was a real pleasant time we shared.
one more thing, that just happened recently. they stopped at out house on sunday. i asked dick what he was doing, and he told me about his projects. one was the shakespeare book. and he told me that he and some friends of his were reading the paper over the radio for folks that were site impaired. he said - and he got this funny look on his face - he said " they had me reading the obituaries" and that he had told andy the same thing, and that he asked for something else to read. as long as he was reading, i know he really felt that he was doing a good job.
being what's was going on this whole month, with the deaths of many people we know, the princess and mother teresa will be in good company with dick. and i just thank him and the family for all the memories.
he loved all of us. i know there are many more stories. and the stories are going to go on and on and on. but i also think i can hearing him rapping his fingers about now. since lunch is drawing on. maggie asked me to offer a few thoughts. hannah, do you have something ? come forward, please.
hannah webb, no. 1 grand-daughter
i remember when we were reading romeo and juliet together. we were reading the two parts. if i didn't read it with correct emotion, he would stop me and say "more emotion" and teach me how to read the part. he would explain what the words meant, which helped so much. a "typical grandpa thing". he really wanted me to read the part of the "apothix" in romeo and juliet - he thought i would learn alot about the story and shakespeare. the most memorable thing he ever told me about was "the tempest" - his favorite play. he said it was the most complicated and it was the first book he ever lent me. it was really great learning from grandpa.
sonnet cxvi from romeo and juliet
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
tomorrow the church will celebrate the feast day of st. francis who is for many around the world, the patron saint of the poor. and the environment. today we celebrate richard vincent paulos, a spiritual companion to francis and son of a greek goat herder who never forgot his humble origins and his love for the salt of the earth. our debt to him is incalculable. it is not easy for an adopted son a son-in-law, to accurately describe dick or his family, this beloved beast, referred to affectionately as the paulosaurus. this thing that is not only a family, but a culture. it is not easy, even though i have now been immersed in it for about 25 years.
but i was thinking this week about both maggie and dick. and the family that their marriage produced. what accounts for some of its uniqueness. i think a part of it is this; in many ways, their marriage represents a fusion of two great traditions. what maggie brought to it was the great agrarian tradition. transplanted to town, with its ideals of a thrifty, self-sufficient household economy. it's family center culture and its creative and productive children. dick brought some of this from his roots, too. but the thing that dick really contributed was the democratic and civic tradition rooted in the greek city state. with its concern for the common good and a politics devoted to the shaping of a good life, a good community and good society. and of course, this resonated with maggie's family of origin and their devotion to public good, public service and public office. from both sources also came this tremendous love for learning. and on any day in the paulos household, you could see the fusion of these things at work almost simultaneously.
for example, during breakfast at the great round table in the kitchen, dick would pull down the atlas on the wall and begin the days lesson on geography, history, politics literature, etc. helping all of his family members and those of us who were visiting, to begin to live in something other than our small and puny times. after which, maggie might be leading the charge on harvesting and preserving the grapes. raking her leaves, or a thousand other householding chores for a family culture that size. then they might be off for a mass family bike ride down the bike trails that they advocated be built in this community. and from there, the kids might disperse in 18 different creative directions. only to convene again, en masse, for a great supper, followed by a performance at the genesius guild or some such thing as that.
i was always caught up in wonder, as a young man, coming into the paulos household. not only with all the action, in this factory that never shut down, not only with the parents who valued the kids enough to let the walls and shelves and windows and dressers be covered with artwork and books of all kinds. but also, of course, with all the bright and gorgeous women and cool dudes. as a potential suitor of one of dick's daughters, he knew he has a captive audience. and a conversation partner in his control. in his grips. but what started as a duty for the suitor came to be over time and under his good influence, a real conversation. dick was able to open up new worlds for any of us who listened.
he was the living embodiment of the living tradition of classic western thought. in one man. and because his nation was so little able to live by such virtues in his day, he was necessarily a populist, and a contrarian, by circumstance, not by heart. dick's critique of corporate america as consuming the very physical and moral resources it needs for its own survival was potent. and it still is. he knew we needed an adversarial economy and culture to protect us against the excesses of the corporate culture. this man also had moral passion and strong convictions for our need for substantive justice in this nation. not just thin, procedural justice, but deep, substantive justice. and he pursued those noble goals both personally and politically. in doing so, i think he was not only drawing on his father's humble origins, but beleived that human dignity should be accorded to everyone. especially our ethnic minorities and poor. because either each of us has intrinsic value and inherent worth in the eyes of god or none of us is safe. and so he was a great humanitarian who, in thousands of ways, offered compassion and practiced justice on behalf of the voiceless. in fact, he helped them find their voice. when they met dick, they knew someone cared. they knew they were loved. just as all of us did. even if it was a demanding love, a severe love at times. born of his high aspirations for us and his own human limitations.
i was greatly looking forward - we were blessed to see him last weekend - but i was also greatly looking forward to having him join me this weekend on our conference on religion and the environment this weekend called "conserving and renewing community". in part because wendell berry, another great moral contrarian, whom we both enjoy, is going to be speaking. and so i offer instead, in dick's honor, this poem fragment, that wendell wrote to honor his father after his death.
while it attests, in part, to agrarian values, it also speaks of the much needed virtues of modesty and humility in lifestyle. and certain other qualities of mind that i think dick also shared. he writes;
xii in extremis ; poems about my father
"what did i learn from him ?
he taught the difference between good work and sham. between nonsense and sense.
he taught me sentences, outspoken fact for fact,
in swift coherences, discriminate and exact.
he served with mind and hand what we were hoping for; the small house on the land, the shade tree by the door, garden, smokehouse and cellar, grainery, crib, and loft abounding,
and no year lived at the next years' cost.
he kept in mind, alive, the idea of the dead;
'a steer should graze and thrive whenever he lowers his head.' he said his father's saying.
we were standing on the hill to watch the cattle grazing, as the gray evening fell.
'look. see that this is good,
and then you won't forget.'
i saw it as he said, and i have not forgot.
in his own way, dick has been trying to help us see certain things we are in danger of overlooking in our unthinking, sometimes an uncaring and always consumerous society. he was trying to wake us up from our general amnesia to the past, and its potency and to guide us amidst the confusions of our times. he was trying to pass on to us the stories and meaningful conversations. a living tradition with the immortals, on who's shoulders we must stand or otherwise surely fall.
10 years ago, at my fathers funeral , dick leaned across the pew from behind me and whispered something into my ear. he said "when a man loses his father, he feels for the first time the full force of the unbroken wind" his sudden and swift passing from us leaves us feeling like we stand alone in the wind. and yet, beloved, we are not alone ! for there are still voices whispering into our ear. his stories, his moral conscience, his love for us and for a world intact is not yet dead. it lives on in the stories he shared with us and the example of the life he lead. it lives on in the living tradition he was trying to introduce us to. not only as his children and his friends, but as his peers.
dear friends, i am afraid that this time he has really passed on the mantle to us. so carpe diem, he would say. seize the day. it is our generation that now must hold the torch. let us each take away from here a good measure of his spirit and the immortal sources from which it springs. and go forth into the world rejoicing in its truth and its power. and yet, i can also see him smiling and reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. let us not be faint-hearted, let us take that seriously that which should be taken seriously, but let us enjoy the little things each day, as he so richly taught us. let us enjoy the little children. let us be loving and playful with each other. for life is bigger than any single one of us. and god is good. how else would we have been given such a beautiful one such as dick to enjoy on our earthly pilgrimage ? amen.
bob romic, friend
maggie asked me if i had a few thoughts. i was a friend of dick's since '82. he was a storefront attorney. we were going to shut down the arsenal back then and i find myself working there now. that's how life is sometime, you know. andy called me at the library and told me about dick. that night i was trying to study for a midterm , but i just had to sit down and write these thoughts. maggie asked me if i had any thoughts, and i just expounded on them. so if you could kindly (listen)...
"he loved you so,
you were beatrice, venus. love, all-
the horn and piano, the violin and bow.
the hats and apparel. the toys and the tots.
they all carried the quilt of life. a patchwork of beauty, an item of wonder, a dance of joy.
from the painted brush to the spoken word.
from the battlefield of the chessboard
to the wayside of society that was scattered with rejects, dick was there.
others dream of making a difference,
my friend made a difference.
i will miss him."
reading memories for vi krava,
close neighborhood friend
i'm molly tiegland. i've known the paulos family for some 20 years. but this is a tribute from a neighbor,
vi krava's recollections of dick :
vi remembers dick fondly. she saw him for the last time when he brought over homegrown, homemade grape juice and jelly. she met him when she moved into the neighborhood in 1959. her sister gail went to davenport high school with dick. the two sisters had a conversation about him recently, and decided he was the smartest man they ever knew. vi remembers how fond of her dog queenie, dick was. that doggie was dick's pet. he loved this puggey dog. he also made sure to feed her tootsie rolls at every visit, which queenie loved. and there's a tootsie roll in hand (today). she is thankful for the advice he has given her over the years. in ending, god decided to call this child home. gone but not forgotten.
(molly) and my own recollections of the paulos family, of dick, i think of his corner of the living room, where i would find him when we would come for a party or just a visit. ensconced with television blaring, although it would be turned down so you could have conversation, surrounded by books, pen in hand, doing a crossword puzzle or writing. let's do as many things as once at possible. i knew that i was always challenged by dick - challenged in a positive way. to be as much as i could be. and indeed, it kind of went here and there - who has the time in life to accomplish all this in life ? i am challenged still. to sit at qc bicycle club banquet tables, with dick and maggie, and look for whatever hat he was wearing at any particular occasion. he will be missed.
a couple of closing prayers and then more music , which is exactly where i think he would have us go.
"and to the earth we shall return and to dust we shall return. all of us go down to the dust and yet even at the grave, we make our song. alleluia. alleluia. alleluia.
oh lord, receive richard into the glorious company of the saints." amen.
bentham, the tempest
"our revels now are ended.
these are actors, as i foretold you.
we're all spirits and are melted into air. thin air.
and like the baseless fabric of this vision,
cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
the solemn temples, the great globe itself.
yea, all which it inherits, shall dissolve.
and life's insubstantial pageant faded,
leave not a rack behind.
we are such stuff as dreams are made on,
and our little life is rounded with a sleep. "
strauss horn piece
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