When the news is all bad,
When you’re sour and blue,
When you start to get mad
You should do what I do-
We had a breakfast this morning in honor of my friend Vern. Unlike the formal funeral service, this was a something a little different. In 2008 Vern had started a meeting I called the Lake Stevens Mens Breakfast Club, although I don’t think it ever had that formal a title (another friend, John Morrison, called it the Brass Testicle Club). Around a breakfast table at the Buzz Inn in downtown Lake Stevens, members of the community would sit down, nosh a bit and try to solve the mysteries of the universe.
How lucky you are…
Now Vern was a jokester supreme, and so loved telling stories, and held his own right ip there with John Morrison. In fact, John may have had many of the ideas over the years, but what most people never knew was that Vern was the bag man – the one who put together the mechanics that made the jokes work. From image manipulation to quick printing to misdirection, Vern could do it all….
When your life’s going wrong
When the fates are unkind
When you’re limping along
And get kicked from behind
So we gathered here at the Buzz Inn to tell stories and tall tales and outright lies of Vern Foster. We couldn’t get too outrageous, because his wife and three of his four children came by. But folks shared about how Vern was always a man of honor and on the spot, and made everything better by being there…
How lucky you are…
I remember the time Vern became President of the Rotary Club and asked me to be his Sergeant-at-Arms. It’s technically not an official position, but in our Rotary Club, it was a fun job, collecting what we called “Happy Dollars.” But one day, Vern played a trick on me. I had just appeared in Seussical as the Mayor of Whoville, and a bunch of the Rotarians had come to see it. The Friday after, as I’m collecting, one person stands up and says their car dies and needed a major repair. And then the next said their dog died. And then the next said their sister ran off with the milkman.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “What’s going on? Is everything gong wrong at once?”
Well, Vern looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, and said, “Well, Don…” and then he broke into song.
This same song I’m quoting, “How Lucky You Are,” which the Cat In The Hat sings in the show.
But even better, my friend danced.
My friend, all 300 pounds of him, pranced around the front of the meeting room like he was lighter than air. It was a sight to behold. And one of my fondest memories.
Why decry a cloudy sky
An empty purse
A crazy universe?
My philosophy is simply
Things could be worse!
I have sat here in the week since I lost my friend, and I freely admit to decrying that empty purse. I miss him. I looked over at the chair he would normally sit in, occupied by someone else this morning, and I almost lost it. I am never going to hear his laughter, share his jokes, feel his gentle chiding again. And yet…
It could have been worse. I could have not had the courage to go in his shop in the first place a decade ago. If so, I would never have met this man, or made this friendship that has so affected, so guided, so shaped my life. I cannot help but believe my life would be a much poorer place without Vern having been in it. So, indeed… things could be worse, but they weren’t. I was granted a blessing, and must recognize and be thankful for it.
So be happy you’re here.
Think of life as a thrill…
Vern only had 52 years. It was too short a life by modern standards. But his obituary is so long, it would have filled two full columns in the Seattle Times. He indeed lived a full and rich life to the very end, and I was privileged to be a part of it. He was happy and proud to be my friend, and I his.
And if worse comes to worse
(As we all know it will)
Thank your lucky star
You’ve gotten this far…
The end came swift, and while there were surely regrets, he was surrounded by those he loved…and he was secure in his faith as to his next step of the journey.
We’re here in this beautiful theatre –
And you’re in the first row!
How lucky to be in the theatre!
More lucky than you know!
You could have the luck of our hero
Whose luck has been running low
And so tomorrow, we’re going to gather at 1 p.m. at the Lake Stevens Assembly of God Church to say our final farewells to our friend, Vern Foster. Theoretically, we’re luckier than him, because we’re still around. But Vern has already lived a much fuller life than many of us could ever hope to live in toto, let alone in the time remaining us. So we have a lot to celebrate tomorrow indeed.
How lucky you are!
How lucky, how lucky you are!
Vern, I got to be your friend. So yes, I am lucky. And I always will be.