I met Phil Rosette in the 1990s at the Rochester Writers Group and then, three years ago, we reconnected at another writers group. When he learned I was interested to join this other group, where he was already a member, he sent my requests to the hosts (it was by invite only) and after I was welcomed to participate, he offered to meet me close to my home so I could follow him in my car and not get lost.
Earlier this year, in March, we ran into each other at Michigan Writing Workshop. With his bright smile which he wore regularly, he congratulated me on the publication of my books and for the workshop I was doing. I explained I’d been too busy to attend the writers group but planned to return in a few months. We wished each other good luck and said, “See you soon!” Yet by the time I returned in August, he wasn’t there. Then last week, I received a call from a friend with the sad news that Phil passed away.
Many from the various writers groups, some who I hadn’t seen for years, attended the memorial service yesterday. We watched the boards with the warm and loving photographs that showed the highlights of Phil’s 68 years of life – his wedding day, his toddler sons climbing over him as he sat behind his desk, him proudly walking his daughter down the aisle, his dogs smothering him with love, family picnics, and him just chilling with friends. Nearby was a table stacked with one of his two books, The Freya Project. It was placed in a beautiful ivory case, with a sign asking to take a copy in honor of Phil’s memory.
One of his sons started the service with a most touching eulogy, followed by Phil’s daughter who read a heartfelt poem called The Dash by Linda Ellis. Here’s the poem:
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her casket from beginning to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; Are there things you would like to change?
For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what is true and real
and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives like we have never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?
Based on what his family and friends said about him, the adventures he pursued, the dreams he manifested, Phil definitely would be proud of how he spent his dash.
This morning, I sat at my desk with my cup of coffee and watched through my window the mist in the fog and the squirrels running to and fro. I opened Phil’s book and read his bio to learn more about how he spent his dash:
Phil Rosette’s writing stems from his own life experiences, which span blue collar, white collar, military, and no-collar employment. Phil has been a busboy in England, a short order cook in the Berkshires, an international importer of rare and exotic cars, an assistant private investigator, and a racer of open-wheeled cars in England and America. He finished runner up in the 1980 SCCA National Championships. He did a tour in Vietnam as an Army helicopter gunner. His style is daring, and his voice unique.
I’d often said that it’s more important to have a great life than it is to have a great book because you could always convert your great life into a book but you can’t always convert a great book into a great life.
So, how are you spending your dash? What’s in your life that you’d like to rearrange so you could have that great life that will lead to a great story, and maybe one day, a great book?