This past weekend, I went to what might be my very favorite funeral, if that’s an ok thing to have a favorite funeral.
I met Adolph Hoffman through Honor Flight at the beginning of 2015, and have had breakfast with him once a month for many of the months between then and the beginning of 2018.
Mr. Hoffman lived a long, long life. He was closer to 96 than 95 when he passed into Eternity. He was granted more years than many. That’s a remarkable thing itself, but what has stood out to me over the last several years, and what was evident in spades at his funeral from the chorus of comments and stories, is how he lived his life and how fully he lived his life.
You can read online all about his World War II service and the multitude of contributions he made in his town of Somerset, Texas. And a documentary, Age of Champions, was made about him and several other Senior Olympians. It’s all so impressive and inspiring.
What I love so much and what will be with me forever is that he filled Kipling’s “unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.” He was truly fully alive. He squeezed every bit out of his life. Among plenty of other things, at 70, he started pole vaulting again, using the stiff bamboo poles he and his brothers had used growing up, not the new flexible ones. He joined the Senior Olympics and won all sorts of awards. Then at 80, he picked up baseball after an absence of 40 years.
I watched him play baseball in the spring of 2017 when he was 94. That was six months before I turned 50. I don’t even know how to fully describe how it impacted me, as I was anticipating 50, to see my friend, almost 45 years ahead of me, out on that field, defying what everyone “thought” he should be doing, and living the life he loved.
Liberty said as we left the service on Saturday, “I've never been to a funeral where terms like pole vaulting, baseball, farming, and building construction were used in connection with someone well over 70. All those things related to Mr. Hoffman's early life, but he excelled in them in the latter part of his life.”
And Faith summed it up for us, “He’s a good reason to look forward to getting old. He lived his whole life, not just the first half.”
I would so love that to be said about me in 45 years.