I had this weeks’ blog all set to publish. Then I listened on WOR to your funeral service and scrapped it for this instead:
Dear Ed Koch,
Being a New Yorker I was a huge fan of yours. You were in office during my formative years, in my late teens, just as I was becoming aware of the world around me, and just as my infatuation with the city of New York was starting to bloom. Your passing saddened me, as it marked an end to a New York era- you were so quintessential New York. …and I used to fantasize that you were the cool uncle I never had.
You’d be impressed I’m sure at all the big wigs who attended your funeral…or maybe not, but they were all there- dignitaries from around the globe, Bill Clinton, past New York Mayors and many, many statesmen, plus a cool few thousand more friends and family all vying to make us laugh and cry at your past shenanigans. They filled the pews at Temple Emanuel, and from what I hear, left thousands outside looping around the block, unable to fit into the synagogue.
Of the many- (12 ish) impressive eulogies I heard, all recounted the bigger than life, inspirational, devoted, passionate and very funny stories that were all part of your fascinating tapestry of a life, a life spent serving others and trying every day to make a difference, doggedly, loudly, and honestly, even when that honesty was sometimes abrasive. Many did not agree with your politics- your tell it like it is style seemed to invoke discussion, debates, strong opinions and banter. You challenged people to be their best and to question everything. You embodied what it meant to be a New Yorker. And then you went and became even more of a renaissance man post-office, as an author of both fiction, non-fiction and children's books, a radio personality, a restaurant critic, practicing law, political commentator...I'm sure I'm leaving some titles out. You were a well-respected, fascinating (and energetic) man.
I pulled the car over when Mayer Bloomberg spoke. You were a huge influence for Bloomberg when Bloomberg first came to office and I knew when he spoke I needed to listen, plus I didn’t want to get teary and crash the car. That would have been bad.
I’m so glad I did because when Bloomberg spoke of the words you told him after he was elected to office I had to grab a pen and scribble it on an envelope to repeat to my kids.
These are words I will share with my children, and I’m sharing them with my readers as well; Your parting gift to us all in a roundabout way, which I’m paying forward to everyone who reads my blog. You said:
▪ “Always be yourself”
▪ “Say what you mean”, and
▪ “Don’t be swayed by what people say. Rather, follow your heart.”
Simple, to the point, and oh so powerful, both in business and as a mantra in our day- to- day lives. You lived by this rule every day, no matter what the consequences.
Rest In Peace Ed Koch. I really do wish you had been my uncle. You will be sorely missed.