The Jewishness isn't the main point, just an interesting add-on.
Kyle's grandfather, John Adelberg, had a memorial service at Levine Chapel in Brookline, MA, today. We walked around the historically Jewish neighborhood on Harvard St. We both looked interesting in yarmulkes. Kyle got to see his Mom and his youngest sister, but none of the others were there.
I met John only a few times, and didn't know much about him. In fact I learned most of what I know of him today. If you want an incentive to finish well in life, remember that the last few years are going to dominate what people say about you in the eulogy. Unless you did something historic, the work and focus of most of your life will be breezed by in a few sentences. Was an architect at thus-and-so for 25 years, then had his own firm until retiring. Your idiosyncrasies during retirement, and how you bore your final illness will take up more space. I suppose that is because the people at the funeral will tend to be those who knew you more recently - including the young rabbi. In the same way that some guests at your wedding quickly faded from your life, the mourners at your funeral will be something of a snapshot of your last years.
Family will be an exception, of course. Some of them will come even if you haven't kept much contact for years.
Eulogies are supposed to emphasise whatever positive spin of events can be found, and I think that entirely proper. It is good to think there will be a day when people will say their best about you - even if you deserve worse from their lips because of sins against them. Yet I found it jarring to hear in John's eulogy two things that weren't quite true: that he was close to his grandchildren (the other thing I won't mention). I have no doubt he was fond of them, and Kyle, at least, seems to have liked him. And there were periods when John saw them with some frequency.
It was more jarring to realise that most of those present, who knew John far better than I did, thought they were true. It's not that I don't want to give the man credit for good things. As I noted, it sounds like a lot of good things that deserved to be told were left out. Yet at some point, accentuating the positive becomes talking about a fictitious person.
Put the best spin on me you can. Leave out the bad things and perhaps the world will forget them. But no untruths, please.