Smart And Spicy - Who's A Funeral For?
Remembering Steve Rose
March 8, 2018
"This funeral is not for your mother. It's for you to say goodbye to your mother."
That's what my friend P. said when I called her at three am. I'd just been told my mother died; I didn't know what to do.
P. knew all about funerals; her husband died while she was pregnant; plus she and a friend planned the friend's own funeral when he learned he was dying, laughing merrily as they decided to buy theater tickets for all his friends so they'd remember him.
Should you feel good after a funeral?
After Steve Rose's funeral, I called my friend L.
"Funerals are not good under the best of circumstances," he said.
Surprising myself, I blurted:
"This was good."
During Steve's funeral, I remembered a novel where two strangers met at a mutual friend's funeral. The funeral was devastating; they agreed to get a room immediately as the best way to reaffirm life.
After Steve Rose's funeral, you didn't feel down; it left such a good feeling about life.
Sometimes you know someone, but you don't. It's too late, when you learn great things about them at their funeral.
I wish I knew Steve Rose better. Seeing how deeply people loved him, hearing his impact, made me wish I'd gotten to know him. We met at chamber breakfasts and networking nights; we talked, but never took it further.
Sometimes you know a person, but you don't get to know them.
How many people do we all meet
whom we'd really like a lot if we got to know them better? How many people do we encounter in our lives who, if we offered to share a cup of coffee, might turn into great friends? How many chances do we miss to really get to know someone who could bring potential joy?
It made me sad. Sad that I'd missed knowing Steve better, and determined to take more chances with people I don't know that well.
"He was definitely a person worth savoring," said Steve's son, Josh.
Rabbi Robert Elias, of Knesset Israel, asked, "What is a soul?"
"It's God's DNA," he said. "A little piece of that is given to every human being."
It reminded me how people in Nepal greet each other.
"Namaste." (Translation: I recognize the God-like creature within you.")
"Steve was a real mensch," Rabbi Elias told us.
"He was a man who had great love in his heart for his city, and the businesses that thrive there.
"Steve's legacy is the difference one person can make in the world."
"Steve bled Culver City."
Over and over, Steve's best friends and family had fun recalling Steve's large sense of humor.
Josh said when he teased Steve about being bald, Steve insisted: "The Lord created a few perfect heads, and the rest he covered in hair."
"No one had as much love for Culver City," promised Steve's niece Danielle.
She'd asked Steve what to do with his suits when he died; he said to donate them to special needs adults via the Exceptional Children's Foundation, for men going to job interviews.
Danielle confided she was thinking up ways to honor Steve. On different political sides, they'd often laughed about politics. Danielle, a Democrat, thought, "Maybe I should honor Steve by voting for a Republican," but then caused laughter when she told everyone, "Noooo!"
Nancy Hoffman, CEO, San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, recalled that Steve's dreams for Culver City had come true.
She told a charming story: Steve had been so concerned about the inappropriateness of collecting parking meter money, that when he had to pay $325 - he mailed the entire amount - in quarters!
"As the Wizard of Oz said, 'A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.'"
Speakers continually mentioned feeling all the love for Steve in the room.
His niece Danielle said Steve epitomized what it means to give back to your city (which she followed up by telling a hilarious story of how Steve color-coded the hangers in his closet.)
Steve's friend Andy said Steve had a group of friends who met for coffee, "every morning, from seven to eight, for maybe 30 years.
"We were like the Seinfeld show; we'd talk about nothing."
Allan, Steve's best friend, said, "Steve loved Culver City like no one else."
He praised a memorial service, "like this, with humor and with love. This is just what Steve would have loved."
"Culver City was Steve's hobby," Danielle later told me. "The service showed how many people loved and respected Steve."
I asked why he was so loved.
"He thought about other people all of the time. He was honest. You always knew what he was thinking."
Paul Goldstein, President/ CEO, Culver City Chamber of Commerce, is also General Manager of Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, where the service took place.
"It was a beautiful funeral, very in line with Steve's sense of humor," he said.
500 people attended, he estimated. "So many people came. It showed how many people loved and respected Steve."
Then it was back to Steve's sense of humor.
"Steve had a special way of introducing me. He would say, 'This is Paul Goldstein. He'll be the last person to let you down.'
Given his work as Hillside's GM, Goldstein said, "That was pretty funny."
* * *
"Steve was angry at Warner Bros.," Steve Hadland, Publisher of the Culver City Observer, told me. They were close friends for 30+ years.
"Why was he angry at them?"
"Because they stopped using Porky Pig on tshirts, etc. Steve had a terrible stutter, and since he was a boy, Porky Pig and his stutter give him confidence. It meant Steve could get things done despite his stutter."
Knowing death was imminent, Steve planned every aspect of his own funeral service.
Would anyone reading this column be surprised at what happened at the end of the funeral, given Steve Rose's sense of humor?
As he was being carried down the center carpet by his friends and loved ones, Steve had directed that the chapel's TV screens had a film clip from Looney Tunes. As Steve's casket passed attendees, Porky Pig was heard saying loudly, "Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th... That's all, folks!"
* * *
Who was this funeral for?
It was for Steve Rose, of course!
He must've been laughing, wherever he was. That was the beauty of it. This funeral was for Steve Rose, of course.
Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.
You can write to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org