Kevin D. Mouton Eulogy
April 29, 2009
May 2, 2009
My name is Ted Thompson. I know most of you here. Roxanne is in school, overwhelmed with end-of-the-year responsibilities, and could not come today, but sends her love.
Each of us here shares the same sense of sadness and loss. To Robin, Kevin’s devoted wife, and to his children and grandchildren and sisters and his extended family, we can only be here to help you as much as our love for you and for Kevin can help. Likewise, Kevin’s friends who could not be here today have their hearts with you, and their arms wrapped around you.
I can’t speak for anyone else today. I can only speak for me, but perhaps what I have to say and remember about Kevin will help more than just me. The qualities I mention, you will recognize, and hopefully take the opportunity to shine a light on your own fond memories. The stories I tell you may have already heard, for Kevin loved to tell stories, and as far as I could ever tell, he never made them up, at least not until the end when I heard he claimed to be milking crickets.
We met as boys. (story about Kevin and Gordon Rickels on the front porch of the house in Youngsville, stirring up high explosives, Mercury Fulminate) That first day we talked. That first day, we began to learn how much we enjoyed laughing together, and that we laughed at the same things. That first day, we began growing a friendship that never failed or faltered in over 40 years. And from that first day, we never, either of us, lost our fascination and delight for things that go “boom!”
Neither did the laughter ever stop, all the way to the end. Kevin was still chuckling and making jokes the last time we spoke. I know that doesn’t surprise anyone who knows him. On April Fool’s Day, Kevin kept asking Robin, “Did you call Ted yet? Did you call Ted?”
“Why?” she asked. “It’s April Fool’s Day,’ he replied, “Tell him I died.
I’m grateful she didn’t do that. If Kevin would have heard me groan when Robin told me that story, he would have laughed all the more. He never quit grinning. Not at you. Not at me. Not at any of us. Almost literally, Kevin died laughing. It is the best any of us could hope for, for ourselves or for anyone we love.
As much as he became the man I loved all my life, for as long as he lived Kevin never quit being the boy I first met. We were Porthos and Aramis, we were Sawyer and Finn. Kevin was the brother I always had. And like any good brother, he was never above hoodwinking me any chance he got. (Story about camping on the White River and drinking tequila, agreeing to eat one of the worms we dug out of the dirt with out pocket knives, then Kevin renegging, and me putting a worm in his scrambled eggs the next morning and telling him so as he prepared to take the last bite…)
Since you know Kevin, then you probably know what he did next. He grinned. He shrugged. And he ate that last big bite of eggs with a relish and enjoyment that was intended purely to deny me my satisfaction. Kevin was never above doing that, either.
We could come to Kevin with our good news, and he’d embrace our joy as if it were his own. We could run to Kevin with our bad news, and he’d likewise share our sorrows, but he might also throw in a reality check that we may not have welcomed, but usually needed. Forever reasonable and level-headed, Kevin brought laughter to our conversations, calm to our storms, and pointed logic to our difficulties, and always with true care, and always with unwavering friendship.
Kevin was our mechanic, our computer whiz, our encyclopedia of useful or sometimes useless information... Mr. Goodrench, Bill Gates and McGyver, rolled into one. He was a jack of all trades, and master of anything he put his mind to. He had knowledge, and he used it. He had experience, and he shared it. He had generosity, and he gave it. Kevin challenged us, he made us think, and he always kept us on our toes. Kevin ENGAGED us.
The scars on Kevin’s right hand are an illustration, like a expressionistic painting of a busy life. This is the hand that turned a wrench to make a living, or to help a friend. This is the hand that raised a glass to celebrate, anything, or nothing at all. This is the hand that stroked the heads of children and grandchildren. And this is the hand that really, truly, actually – really, truly, actually – shook the hand of Jimi Hendrix. I was there. So were you, Christy, along with Roxanne, Gordon and Betty. Those of you who weren’t there … I know you heard the story.
If Kevin was talking to us now in his reasonable, logical, sometimes stoic way, I think he might have said it’s OK to go ahead and grieve if we need to, because that is part of this process we go through when we say goodbye. I think he might have said to go ahead and miss him, because he always did want to be important to us, and to be loved by us, and he made that forever easy.
But I think if he was speaking to you and me today – and he is – he’d then ask us to move on as quickly as we can from grief, and remember him without enduring sorrow, and with a grin whenever possible. To remember him for the strength of his opinions, whether we agreed with them or not. To remember him for his natural intelligence and essential wisdom. To remember him for his selfless generosity. And to remember him for the laughter he usually brought with him … the laughter that always lasted long after he left. And especially, to remember him for how much he loved us.
When he gave us something, he gave it without regret or expectation. And when he left us, he left us wondering why, and what now?
In his poem about Death, the poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran wrote:
You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
What is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered.
And what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind, and melt into the sun?
Only when you drink from the river of silence, then shall you indeed sing. Only when you have reached the mountain top, then shall you begin to climb. And only when the earth claims your limbs, then shall you truly .
We are here to say Gooodbye, Kevin, or at least to say so long. There’s not one of us who would have missed the amazing, funny, generous, loving, full-hearted dance you shared with us. We regretfully allow you to melt into the sun, but never from our hearts and minds. It was our great fortune to have known you.
I have one more thing to say, directly to Kevin, and I can say it because I know Kevin himself would love it. I’ll share the observation with you, too, because it’s an amusing reality none of us can escape.
Kevin, and you, and me, and all of us, be aware of this:
In the end, the worms ALWAYS get the last laugh.