The container with Lyman's ashes rests on the center of the altar table between his childhood photographs. Sorry for the poor quality, all I had was my iphone.
As most of you know, I am a recovering alcoholic and attend AA meetings on a regular basis. The particular AA group I usually attend meets in the Fellowship Community Church Monday through Saturday at noon. Lyman was the gentleman who started this particular AA group 15 years ago. He passed away earlier this week and a memorial service was held for him this afternoon at the church. A lot of people came.
Lyman was a faithful servant. He came early every day to set up chairs and make coffee. Over the years he sponsored hundreds of recovering alcoholics and encouraged many more. AA was Lyman's religion and the coffee bar was his altar. The group grew over the years and now it is not unusual to have 50 or 60 people at a meeting. The coffee never ran out and many insisted it was the best coffee anywhere. We called it Lyman-aid.
Lyman was born with Cerebral Palsy and walked and spoke with some difficulty. His parents were told at birth that he would be unable to walk but he taught himself to walk anyway. He worked, he married and had children. He carved out a good life for himself but found himself dependent on the comfort of alcohol. I don't know the details of that part of his life but whatever happened, he made a new life for himself that centered around Alcoholics Anonymous. I just know that he was always there, there was always coffee, and whoever came was made to feel welcome.
At the service today the pastor of our host church shared some of Lyman's history. He was born July 1, 1942 and died July 14, 2009. He talked about Lyman's service and told some stories about him. Then people were invited to share something if they wanted. Lyman generally didn't have a lot to say but had a dry sense of humor. He was thin with white hair and almost always had a smile on his face.
As an example here is one story. Because of his palsy he moved and spoke in a rolling but deliberate way. At every meeting a basket is passed and most people toss in a dollar. This is what the group operates on for rent, coffee, whatever. The money is counted, put into an envelope and someone, usually Lyman, drops it off at the drive through teller at the bank. One day Lyman took the proceeds from several days and gave them to a pretty young girl who appeared to be rather new. She spent several minutes counting all the one dollar bills and appeared to be puzzled by so many bills. Lyman offered an explanation in his terse way. "I'm a lap dancer".
Lyman was cremated and his ashes will be placed in the columbarium at Fellowship Church on the row closest to where our AA meetings are held. In that way, he will still be with us.