350 people were expected to attend Gregory Stephan Impola’s funeral. About double that number showed up.
Last night, we had a service for Greg where people could share stories and testimonials of how Greg impacted their lives. 200 attended, and the pastor stopped us from telling more stories after 1.5 hours. I’m sure we could have gone on for another few hours.
There’s no getting around it. Greg’s life touched so many others. Like the proverbial ripples in a pond, they extended far, far out from friends, co-workers, family, and people at church. It’s a sight to behold.
And yet… time passes on. Next week, next month, next year will come, and Greg will fade further into the distance. And I can’t let that happen without doing my best to remember everything I will miss about this dear person. Two things stick out, in particular:
- He was a man without a “mask.” I suppose you could just call Greg “sincere”, but it went so much farther than that. With some people you talk to them but you wonder “what they really meant” or what “mixed signals” they were sending between their words. With Greg, it couldn’t be more different: what you saw was what you got. He never mean anything less (or anything more) than the words he was saying. Jesus has a line in Matthew 5, “Let your yes be yes, and -your no be no”: Greg embodied this well.
- He was a genuinely good person. He was so good, it’s like he didn’t even know what “bad” was. What other word is there for a guy who tried so hard to be kind, to love his family, to think well of each person? He was… Sincere. Simple (in a good way). Kind. He tried all the time to do what was right, and thought very little of what he “wanted”. So, put that all together, and I call him… good.
Put those two qualities together: he was genuine, and he was good… and what do you have? A Genuinely Good Man.
And it’s awfully hard to lose a person like that. There are so few people I know who meet that description. Why is this man gone from us? Out of all the men I know, his loss will be felt more deeply and painfully than most all others.
So that’s where we are at with Greg. A painful, unmistakeable blow to our happiness and sense of immortality. Let us carry him with us in our hearts and minds, because he has affected us deeply.
We love you, Greg. We miss you. We’ll never forget you.