A Eulogy for Edwin Bogardus
By Henry Lu
Friends, Family and colleagues, we gather here today to pay our final tribute to Edwin Bogardus who left us last Thursday, at the young age of fifty-eight. His passing saddens and leaves us with a lot to ponder. Edwin died a scandalous death. (Note for the readers of this transcript – Edwin died in a Holiday Inn Express hotel room. He had collapsed from a hand stand against the wall. Autopsy shows that he had sustained a concussion from the impact of the floor and also a massive heart attack. He had also taken 200 mg of Viagara. The woman he was with at the time – an escort with whom he was doing a vertical 69, he on his hands and she on her feet – had called 911.) We are here because we choose not to punish Edwin for the way he died. We are here because we want to remember him as a friend, a father, a colleague, an ex-husband, or whatever you may remember him as.
I did not know Edwin too well and am humbled by his leaving me with his beloved Harley in his will. I met him in the men’s room on our floor in the office building – at the urinals, to be precise. A couple of years ago, Edwin and I both were suffering from shy bladder syndrome; and it just so happened that one day we were standing at the urinals side by side, faced with the same predicament. So we struck a conversation while waiting for the water to flow through the garden hose, if you will. The conversation actually helped as it turned out: I asked Edwin how long he had worked with the government and he told me since Jimmy Carter was the President. I said wow and asked him if there was anything interesting when Carter was in the office and he said yea, the son of a bitch ordered hot water to be turned off in all Federal buildings during the oil crisis. By the time he mentioned that hot water was turned back on, our sprinklers were going with a vengeance. I came across with Edwin a few more times at the urinals. Each time we laughed at his Jimmy Carter and hot water story and how well our bladders responded to it. To this day, I motivate my bladder with Edwin’s story whenever I stand in front of a urinal.
Then I started to run into him in the elevators, cafeteria and etc, and we shared bits of life stories with one another. Two things in my life tickled his fancy. One is my addiction to golf. And the other is my evangelical preaching on Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych. I did not have to do much to lure him into playing golf. But I had a hard time getting him to read The Death of Ivan Ilych. He never did tell me that he had read the book, though now we all know since it is his wish to be buried with a copy of that book.
I was an eye witness to the terrible golfer Edwin had been. Throughout the few months he played golf, he had achieved what would take an average golfer a life time to achieve: inflicting a head wound to a fellow golfer that required emergency treatment, breaking five townhouse windows in one round and crashing a gas cart into a tree while intoxicated. But we will remember him as someone who did not take himself too seriously. And that is hard to do when you golf.
Edwin and I did not socialize much off the golf courses; as a result, I was oblivious to the seismic changes taking place in his life while he managed to show up on time for the weekend morning tees, hangovers notwithstanding. Edwin went through a tumultuous divorce, ending a marriage a few days shy of its silver anniversary. He also went on a spending spree, squandering his life savings on motorcycles, girlfriends, (Note for the readers – a.k.a., whores) yoga retreats, shooting ranges, flight lessons and you name it.
If I may venture a guess, I would say The Death of Ivan Ilych had imparted a profound influence on Edwin. It had put the fear of death in him, as it does to everyone who ever reads it. Edwin had realized that time was running out and he had to hurry if he wanted to leave people with something meaningful or significant to remember him by when he died. As a career government employee, his 38 years of service had accumulated nothing more than seniority and he knew he was just waiting to retire. He was desperately seeking something outside his job to experiment and excel. It strikes a sad note that Edwin also died young, like Ivan Ilych did in Tolstoy’s story. They both held government jobs. They both had normal family. They both had spent their lives living up to the prerequisites of society. I am happy for Edwin, for at the end of his life, he had unfettered himself from the rules and explored life at his free will. As we say farewell to Edwin, we are once again reminded of life’s brevity. And we thank Edwin for showing us his courage to pursue his life, whatever inappropriate means he had employed in so doing.
As to the Harley, I shall cherish and enjoy it for the rest of my life. (Note for the readers – It will be disrespectful to sell it for cash, but I don’t ride motorcycles. In the back of my mind, I wonder if Edwin actually had left it with me as a challenge – you know, a guy like me, all set in every possible way and plays fairly good golf, not exactly eager to step outside his comfort zone. On that thought, I see Edwin’s monkey face and beer barrel torso, with a non-existent neck in between, and his signature buck-toothed smile. )
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Henry Lu is a computer programmer by day, a painter and writer by night. Some of his paintings are installed in certain Federal Government buildings in DC. His fictions have appeared, or are forthcoming, on Postcard Shorts, Nanoism and Absinthe Revival Press' Summertime Anthology.