You don't have to go to the funeral.
"You don't have to come to the funeral."
That's what my best friend Mike said as we discussed his dad's decline an impending death. He was being polite the funeral was in St Louis 4 hours outside of Kansas City and he knows how crazy my schedule is.
I do remember my response I kind of laughed and said "you don't get to decide that."
Mike is that friend who was there with me through the divorces, the ups and downs of life, and was there for me with the death of my dad.
I was a little concerned whether I be able to make the funeral due to contractual obligations. My part time job as an entertainer is not something that I can always get coverage for on short notice.
Mike is the kind of friend if he called me at 2 in the morning it said I need you to come help me move a body I would ask where to meet him then I would get up get dressed put on some old sneakers I can throw away and go grab the bag of latex gloves I keep in the kitchen for when I'm handling jalapenos.
And yes I would help him move the body because he's that good of a friend.
Fortunately those who have dealt with cancer understand that the decline was quick at the end still Mike got to spend couple of days with his dad over the last two weekends making 4 hour each way trip.
Mike's dad passed away Saturday, funeral was today. I'm dictating the rough draft of this with tear filled eyes as I drive along I-70 towards St Louis.
I have no shame in admitting that I was teary-eyed and crying through most of the service. It isn't all that long since my dad passed away.
Working with men I talk about becoming a great man. I talk about spending time with and having male friends.
I watched a great man's casket lowered into the ground today.
What makes this more difficult is I have stayed at his parents house with him close to a dozen times. His parents are wonderful people and I've gotten to know them well over the years.
We stayed there on our trips to St. Louis and they always welcomed me into their house like I was their fourth son, that crazy Dennis the Mets fan.
When you have friends like Mike you do what you need to do can you drive to St Louis for a funeral because there are things far more important than work.
As Mike and his brother were talking about his dad they talked about one of the two things their father told them about raising children.
"Treat them like guests. If they spill milk help them clean it up and get them another glass."
We would never yell at a guest who spilled a drink in our house but how often have we yelled at our kids when they spill something?
That point hit me dead center. Made me think of the times I yelled at my kids and how it probably wasn't necessary in hindsight.
I thought that message needed to be shared with all of you men today.
That's why I do the work that I do because I am a much better man than I was two decades ago and want to help others on this journey.
Treat your kids like guests.
Take a few minutes to call your mom or dad. Make the extra trip to see them while you can.