“He is responsible for leading the project which resulted in the Meeting House. In fact, he was also responsible for naming it,” said the man who worked with Seb. As part of Seb’s eulogy, he told this story in great detail. He was a 20-year church member who was mentored by Seb and who grew into a better leader, husband, and father because of Seb’s influence in his life.
Seb Lasher was the father of my good friend Bob Lasher. Seb graduated from West Point as an electrical engineer. He became an officer of the Signal Corps and served in Vietnam and at the Pentagon. He retired as a Lt. Colonel and then served as an executive with Washington Beltway companies. He and his wife had two children, Bob and Allison. His wife died of cancer after a 42-year marriage. He grieved for her and later met Betsy who had also lost her husband. They married and loved God and life for the next 20 years together.
What’s a Eulogy?
It struck me. Eulogies are about the deceased’s accomplishments and family. I realized most of the time is spent on accomplishments with far less time spent on family. As the stories of accomplishments are being told, we sit patiently.
If the accomplishments go too long, we become impatient. We want more. We want to hear the part about family, friends, and love. This is the reward of a good eulogy. It ends with, “And he will be missed.” Not because of his accomplishments, but because of his relationships. That’s why we become impatient with the long list of accomplishments.
Seb’s accomplishments paled in comparison to the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who were created by his first marriage and later nurtured by Seb and Betsy’s second, later in life, marriage.
As the eulogies were being spoken, I kept looking to the front of the church to my right. The family sat in the specially reserved section. There were four full pews of men and women ranging in age from 86 to 18. These pews were filled by the fruit of two marriages. The first marriage was all about creating life. The second marriage was all about sustaining life and encouraging their sons and daughters to create new life, new family.
In the family and friends gathering the night before, I spent a lot of time talking to Bob and his sister, Allison. For some reason, we got to talk separately and not really together. This, I later realized, made these conversations special.
Like many of us siblings, as we grow up and create careers and lives, we grow apart. We build new friendships, get married, and create families mostly in different cities. We are all about accomplishing, and that leaves very little room for keeping sibling relationships going. That is just how it works.
Bob told me he has never been closer to Allison than he is right now. They spent a week together after their dad died. Just the two of them. They struggled and cried together as they wrote the obituary. They drove over to their childhood neighborhood where they walked, remembered, and cried some more.
Bob said, “That time we had together was such a gift. We were children again. Just the two of us. Brother and sister. We reestablished that bond we had from birth, but now we established it as older adults. It was such a great gift from God.”
Visit in the Flesh
This special time together gave them the opportunity to realize a new level of love for each other. It’s different than the love they’ve had all their lives. Bob was the older brother by eight years. Allison was the baby sister.
She told me Bob was always bigger than life to her. She so admired and respected him for who he was and all he accomplished. After this experience, they are brother and sister but also peers. It is a new relationship.
Bob told me about his most recent conversations with Seb. He said, “Just before we would hang up the phone, my dad would say, ‘It is great to talk by phone, but you need to come visit me. I want to see you in the flesh.’ He kept saying that word ‘flesh’ instead of saying ‘in person.’ I don’t know why.
“He also told me he loved me. He told me he loved me more in the last two years than he did for my whole life. Every time he told me he loved me, I would tell him I loved him. In the last few days before he died, this was the conversation. We just told each other how much we loved each other.”
So What Is Seb’s Legacy?
As the eulogies were being delivered, I wrote down some of what I heard. Much of it was character and much of it accomplishments. Here are the character parts which struck me.
Seb was a West Pointer until the end. He was all about duty, honor, and country. He was a leader of his family, his church, and his community. He created lives, saved lives, and honored lives. He was humble, discreet, and embraced the values he was taught and lived at West Point. He was a true servant-leader. As his best friend and roommate from West Point said in the eulogy, “Seb rendered unto Caesar what was Caesar’s and rendered unto God what was God’s.” He was a man who knew what was right and did it.
The Greatest Is Love
Looking back on that funeral church service, I am left with those four pews of people that Seb and his first wife created and Betsy and her first husband created. The love I witnessed inter-generationally and inter-family was overwhelming to me.
Only one of Seb’s accomplishments stands out in my mind. It is the building and naming of the Meeting House at his church. The pastor said, “It is where people meet each other. It is where people meet God.”
Rest in peace, Seb. You left an amazing legacy. You left a great family well-equipped as godly servant-leaders. The last line his 86-year-old Lt. General roommate said was this, “We have met them on the plain, and now we will meet them once again.”
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13