A received the sad news last Sunday morning that a remarkable friend in our community died. The funeral was that afternoon and was well attended. A comment was made that his was “a life well lived.” I have heard this expression before but never did I feel it was aptly applied until it was said about Alex.
Alex retired from work just three weeks before his death…at age 96! I remember his 95th birthday celebration party. A huge crowd of people gathered in a community center to honor him. Among his many accolades was a certificate from the Chairman of the company he worked for, a Fortune 500 regional grocery chain. You see, Alex was their oldest employee and , to say the least, their oldest bag boy!
I saw Alex just about three months ago as I was leaving the grocery store and he was arriving for another day of work. I asked, “How are you doing, Alex?” He grabbed by arm and said with his beautiful smile and distinctive Hungarian accent, “I’m fine, Michael. You know, I went to walk around the block yesterday and ran out of breath half way up the block. But when I come to work, I fell like I can work all day!” I thought to myself, I hope to have his energy tomorrow, much less when I am in my mid-90s.
Alex’s wife died many years ago. His loving daughter and son were not far, but Alex lived independently in his own home until he went to the hospital the week he died. He had may grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved him dearly as did hundreds of people in our community. To list his accomplishments through 96 years would take a long time. Lets just say we all loved hearing his stories…stories that have been shared in these past few days since the funeral. I only wish I had recorded them.
What defines “a life well lived?” I think the answer exists in the face, the eyes and the feeling you get when you talk to a person like Alex. When people talk about him, they smile. When I think about him, I just want to remember every detail of his presence. He lived life to its fullest, and left it peacefully. Rest in peace, Alex. I miss you.