My heart went out to Gloria Miramon on Monday at St. Luke Catholic Church as I joined hundreds of others at the funeral for her husband, Pat Miramon, who died last Friday at his home at the age of 91.
I watched her sit for nearly two hours so graciously at the front of the church, meeting well-wisher after well-wisher. She cried and cried, but laughed, smiled and hugged people she knew from years ago, and many people she probably barely knew.
Pat had so many friends. So, so many.
When you consider his life as a Slidell developer for nearly 70 years—get that, 70 years—he left a legacy that as many said, cannot be described with mere words. It wasn’t just the tremendous contribution he made to the community as a developer and businessman, but more than that so many said, it was his loyalty, his generous heart to so many, and the opportunities he gave to so many others and more.
Pat did so much for Slidell in a way that friends from recent years, and friends from decades ago whom I hadn’t seen in many years, turned out to pay their respect. The Slidell Independent published a special section about him last year and I have never done that for any individual in over 40 years of heading the local paper. But it was the most deserved individual I have ever known to have such a thing done for.
Gloria, flanked by her four daughters most of the morning, endured the best she could. After the mass was over she and the girls followed the casket out the front door to the waiting Honaker Funeral Home hearse. She was almost inconsolable even though longtime son-in-law Don McMath kept his arm around her, helping her take those steps as she watched her husband of 68 years begin the march to leaving her on her own.
Gloria reminds me of my wife in many ways. We’ve been married 41 years and as I watched the pain Gloria was enduring, I knew that it was a picture my wife or I would go through one day. I could feel some of that pain.
We have talked about that day coming. I think it’s natural when you have been together for a lifetime and feel certain it will be like that for the rest of your days on this Earth. And now Gloria did her best to hold up under the strain of it all. My heart truly went out to her as her tears flowed. I knew that pain will strike my wife, or be mine one day.
I’m at the age, as many others have said, that I’m going to more-and-more funerals these days since people who are my friends are now dying. It’s the natural progression in life.
What I consider through it all is my life on this planet, and what I do with it.
Pat Miramon is a man who squeezed every ounce of life he could out of his 91 years—but he did it in a way that I respected as much as any man I’ve ever known.
From the time I met him as a young, aspiring builder, even while I worked as the Managing Editor at the Slidell Sentry-News, to the last 20 years when we simply became friends, he is a man that anyone could use as an example.
Those of us who were close enough friends knew that Pat lived life to the fullest—he enjoyed a drink, he enjoyed the casinos, he loved partying in any way he could, he and Gloria used to stay out late at the clubs dancing the night away, he lived for boat outings, along with vacations to Colorado, Vegas and around the world, and Pat was known to utter a profanity once in a while. Well, maybe a little more than once in a while.
It wasn’t exactly what some folks would term the “Christian life.”
But the way I read my Bible it says that the greatest commandment of all is to love God, and love thy neighbor—meaning do for others, look for opportunities to help, use what God has blessed you with for others. That, I believe, is the true example of the Christian life.
Not only did Pat do that in every way he could, but he did it just as the Bible said—without seeking attention or credit for what he did. One daughter said she believes God used Pat more than he ever realized.
For that matter, Pat would never allow me for years to tell about any giving he ever did. And believe me, the man gave and gave to churches, to people, to non-profits, to any person he saw that deserved a helping hand.
Yes, I know the pain for Gloria and the girls is still great. As one of them told me, Pat spoke to each daughter individually in his final hours and had one key phrase, “we sure had fun, didn’t we?”
That’s the example I hope to keep living by—just as Pat did, but I also hope to follow his other examples as well. And I will always appreciate Pat Miramon for showing me that. He was a businessman, a friend, a mentor and a great example to all. Slidell will likely never see another like him.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.