Bob Nordvall’s Last Comment

So many people have asked about Bob Nordvall, I decided to post the letter and poem he asked to be opened at his death and read at his funeral. Once again he causes us to ponder our life and faith. Bob was the captain of the national champion debate team in college, a Harvard lawyer, an academic dean, and an expatriate living in Italy during retirement. He became a Christian by degrees during his tenure at Gettysburg College. At first he attended but did not participate in worship. When he died, he was a member of the Vestry and a leader of worship at the English Anglican Church in Florence, Italy.

My Final Words January 2005

As someone who always wanted “The last word”, I’m not letting my last opportunity pass me by. 
Bottom line – my life was a wonderful one. I died after a full life and have no regrets that it wasn’t longer.
 Any regrets at all? Life would have been easier for me and especially for many of those close to me had their been less of a gap between my rational intelligence and my emotional intelligence. I took me 60 years to balance the two with modern medicine providing an important final impetus. I wish I had solved this problem early in life.
 Even during my times of ups and downs, life was generally good. In later years it passed from pleasant to enchanting. I simply could not comprehend how much fun I was having every day. I was suffused with a feeling of constant, full, contentment. I did not say to myself “why could this have not started earlier?.” Instead I thought “be thankful for what you have; don’t lament the past.” 
In my final years I understood and articulated my personal theory of wealth. My riches were in my family and friends – I was like a billionaire! I had sustained an extensive network of friends throughout of my life to which I constantly added. My return on this investment far exceeded anything from stocks, bonds, or real estate.
 I know few people who laughed as much in their lives as I did. At times could I be a “pain in the ass”? Yes! But most of the time I was a lot of fun to be around.
 I’ll miss you all. Take solace in the fact that until we meet again on the other side, you won’t have to hear me tell my favorite joke for the umteenth time. Also there was always a special place in my heart for those of you who forgot those jokes between tellings.
 I wasn’t a particularly good husband or father. Fortunately my family seems to have forgiven me so that the shortcomings of our earlier years did not poison our last ones. Of course, they may have all wanted to stay on the right side of a wealthy relative so they could share in the big estate!
In your lives you have all met people kindler, gentler, less selfish, more considerate, etc. than I. But I doubt that you met many who loved life any more or sought to share that love more with others. So my advice for the rest of your lives – stop doing any of the dumb things that it took me so long to stop and SHARE THE LOVE. Thanks for all the wonderful things you did for me.

An Irish Funeral Prayer

Death is nothing at all.

It does not count.

I have only slipped away into the next room.

Everything remains at it was.

The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.

Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.

Put no sorrow in your tone.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.

Let it be spoken without effort.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.

There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.

One brief moment and all will be as it was before.

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again.


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