The Best Funeral….Ever

handsYesterday, my husband Alex, asked me to go to a funeral with him. Alex is the Executive Chef at a monstrously large thoroughbred race track.  The funeral was  for his Sous Chef, who died pretty suddenly.

I didn’t  know what to expect because the service was going to be held in the track chapel. ( Yes, racetracks have chapels for the jockeys, trainers, hot walkers etc.)

I’d only met David once or twice and he seemed like a very nice man, warm and fun. He’d  been at Oaklawn for less than a year so I was surprised the chapel was completely full. All the chairs were taken and folks were standing against the walls, waiting for the service.

After ten or fifteen minutes the Chaplin asked if anyone would like to say a few words.  This can be a really awkward moment at a funeral because you just never know. It’s so sad when nobody has anything to say and everyone sits in uncomfortable silence.

But that’s not what happened at David’s funeral. Immediately several guys lined up, dish washers and prep cooks from the main kitchen, then big white ladies who sell beer and hot dogs, valets, security guys and more dish washers.  Black, white and Hispanic. Young and old, well-dressed and trashy, guys with penny sized gages and tattoos on their necks and tear drop tats on their face, guys with no teeth and gold teeth, clean cut cowgirls and corporate folks in polo shirts and kakis.  So many folks walked nervously to the microphone to talk about Chef David.

He had done something for everyone of them. He changed their days and their lives and they were so very sorry to have lost him.  Over and over this beautiful array of humanity said Chef David was a great man and had done so very much for them. But David didn’t give them money or jobs.  All he did, for all them, every single day, was shake their hand, hug them, smile, he remembered their names, asked how they were doing and how their kids were. He told the lazy ones they needed to work harder. He told the angry ones they had to stop fighting with everyone. Then he smiled, hugged them and shook their hand.

He listened and loved. They knew he cared about them and that meant everything.  And that’s how Chef David changed the world.

I’ve never cried so much at a funeral and I’ve been to a lot of them. I’ve buried every member of my immediate family but I’ve never been so moved by the power of a hand shake, a hug and a smile.

I left dehydrated but inspired and uplifted., determined to be a little bit more like Chef David Lausten.


6 thoughts on “The Best Funeral….Ever”

  1. I just wanted to thank you for your kind words about Dad. For you to take your time to write something beautiful about him, who you barely knew but made an impression on truly states what he was. Even in his death he still lives on to people he touched.

    His Daughter-in-Law

  2. Thank you for putting the funeral into written word. You explained perfectly what happened there. I was there and left feeling just like you. The best funeral I have ever attended. So much love and tears were shared.

  3. Hi Diana,
    My name is Lisa Mundy. I am the niece of Rick Antosik…. better known to you as “motorcycle Rick” who lived in your garage.
    He would love to get in touch with you to catch up, but being low tech he asked me to forward his number to you. I’m not much better than him on the computer, so I hope you get this! 🙂
    Thank you,

    Ricky 973-697-7383

  4. What a beautiful tribute! Obviously, Chef David left the world a better place by being in it.
    Thanks for sharing ~

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