Sam Garrard was an amazing man. I never knew him even though I had met him a few times and knew his family pretty well. Sam had Parkinson’s in the very late stages when I met him. It was at the Celebration of His Life, his funeral, that I got a glimpse of Sam, a look at how he helped create and sustain his family with their love of nature, of arts, of the outdoors and of ideas.
Sam’s very musical family celebrated his wide interest in music. Sam had started his adult life as a violinist and a music educator. He was someone who would play Bach’s Concerto in D Minor as well as bluegrass and traditional fiddle music.
Later thanks to the draft he became a pilot.
He kept a journal, a moving book from the excerpts, about his life as an Eastern Airlines pilot, about the sky from the cockpit, about the rare priviledge of being able to fly. He wrote movingly about music and how it communicated, how it lifted.
Sam’s service bulletin began with a Rilke poem that ends “am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?” and ended with a lecture quote from Wilber Wright “If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and wath birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount the machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.”
The service was lovingly arranged and deeply thoughtout and sincerely touching. Afterwards I felt that I had begun to know the Sam Garrard that Parkinson’s has taken away.
After the service which was out in the county near the Eno River at Pleasant Green Methodist where many members of Sam’s family are buried, Jane and I saw vultures soaring. They are lovely at a distance. But we began to see them landing in a dead tree. By the time we got close to the tree, there were at least twenty of the raw red heads settled in for the night there.