Summary: A personal reflection on the life of a great man and the example he left us all to follow.
A man bought a parrot, but when he got him home, the parrot started cursing and biting people. They tried everything from soft music to talking nicely to it, but nothing worked. One day, after the bird let out a string of expletives, the man, in a fit of anger grabbed the bird and threw him into the freezer. At first, the parrot squawked, then it beat on the freezer door, then it begged to get out. The man opened the door and the parrot said, “I ‘m sorry and I promise to behave. But I gotta know one thing, what did this chicken do?”
Today I wonder what I did to deserve the responsibility to eulogize our dear friend, Brother John Norville. But it is a responsibility that I gladly accept and it is my hope that when we’re finished here today, you’ll know what a true Christian funeral ought to look like. You see, it’s not going to be like many funerals you’ve ever experienced before. But that’s alright, because John Norville was not like any person we’ve ever experienced before either, and it’s fitting that his funeral model his life.
So we’ll be reflective at times, and we’ll joke around a bit, and we’ll talk about God’s amazing grace, and we’ll laugh at a few stories, and we’ll remember our friend, and father, husband and brother. We’re going to do just what John would want us to do here today. We’re going to celebrate his life, applaud his victory, and share his love.
John’s mother said he would not amount to anything because he procrastinated so much. He told her, “you just wait.” Today the waiting ends. Today, we’re pulling out all the stops, and are leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that John Norville was a true man of God, a true friend of humanity, and one who truly deserves all the honor we can bestow today.
I started with a joke because for eighteen years, John would walk up to the pulpit at the Herrin church of Christ and begin his lessons from God’s word with a story that would bring a smile and a chuckle. He wrote them down and filed them away and I’ve gone through and pulled out some of the best of his jokes for today’s eulogy. So all the credit or blame belongs to him.
He was also careful to limit his remarks to 20 minutes. You’ll forgive me today if we don’t achieve that goal, but it seems like a crime to rush to summarize such a full and well lived life in a few minutes. I know that we could be here all day and never exhaust the memories and stories we all hold dear, but this man was so important to so many of us, that it demands that we take all the time we need to reflect on the impact he has made.
To be honest, I wasn’t really prepared for this day. Every time John got ill or went in the hospital, he would tell me, “You better start writing my funeral.”
Alright, are you ready for another joke? Here’s a list of true statements taken from medical charts of patients in the hospital: “The patient refused an autopsy.” “She has had no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states that she was very hot in bed last night.” “Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.” “Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.”