Thoughts on a colleague… Greg.

Posted on March 12, 2010. Filed under: Life | Tags: , , , |

Today is the funeral of a colleague of mine, Mr. Greg McAlpin. He lost his life in the earthquake in Haiti, last month. He was staying at the Montana Hotel for a regional conference on Aviation Safety. His funeral is in Trinidad, the home of his birth. Unfortunately, although almost half our staff members traveled to Trinidad to attend the funeral, I could not attend in person, but today, at the office, the rest of us had our own short service.  We first had a minute of silence, then sang the first hymn in the Order of Service from the actual funeral. After that, we had a short scripture reading, and then a short prayer. For me, and I believe, for the rest of my colleagues at the office today, this service was our way of bidding farewell to a colleague who was always laughing, loved to eat, and managed his department well. I mostly remember him as someone who was down to earth, especially when it came to getting things done in the office. I had always liked working with him, and he had always said that I was the best IT professional he has ever come in contact with. I could always appreciate his candor, and the freedom that I felt to talk with him, even if we disagreed. Lately, I have had a different view of funerals. There have been several deaths this year that are related to office members at ECCAA. We’ve lost two staff members in the earthquake in Haiti. At least three staff members have lost a parent in the past two months. I went to one of those funerals. It was only at that funeral that I really understood the meaning of Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 (KJV):
2It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 3Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 4The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
At first glance, these verses seem to not make sense, or to be dismal. The funny thing is that I recall that as a young boy, my (now deceased) grandmother used to tell me, “Mike, it is good that you go to funerals. Don’t be afraid. It is good for you.” I never really understood that until this year. The truth is that at a funeral, I can see my own mortality in the death of another, and realize the true value of a human life. I realize the great value of doing good, and treating others with love and compassion, just as Christ said that we should. At the end of our lives, will we say that it was worth it to hate others, or treat each other harshly, without consideration? No matter what our skin color is, or what our assets are, or our position in society, at the end of our lives, aren’t we all just human beings? If a disaster comes and wipes away the things that we hold so dear (such as status, position, title, privilege, preference), which we use to separate ourselves from others, what do we have in the end? All we have, in my opinion, is ourselves and God. God demands that we keep His commandments, which chiefly means that we love one another. As for Greg, I prefer to remember him as a man, a person, just like me. I trust that he had made His peace with God. However, only God knows that.

One Response to “Thoughts on a colleague… Greg.”

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Hey Mike,

Been a long time since we have connected…the old days at Stetson. Nice entry man. I just recently returned from my wife’s grandfather’s funeral. I am very sorry for your loss and those who were closest to him.

When I was at the funeral last week, it was the first time, that while I was sad to see him go, I am comforted in the fact that he is now with Christ. He was a Pastor and had man notes for sermons (thousands of notes, it was absolutely amazing). I realized, that all of those sermons he conducted, he did so in faith, but now his faith is realized.

Again, my condoloences to all of those who are mourning Greg’s loss.

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