Bentley Logan Irving Muller Perkins
Died: Jan. 11, 2001 - age: 46
Sept. 2000 with little Bentley & Melissa Moon
December 2000 (photo by Butler Perkins)
BENTLEY EULOGY - Jan. 13, 2001
To comprehend the course of Brother Bentley's life I think of a stream. The stream of life flows and though outsiders may throw in rocks and logs, or stand in the middle of the stream, the flow continues with a mind of its own.
Over the past few days I've heard numerous people speak with a sense of guilt that they could have done more to prolong Bentley's life. Perhaps they could have, but ultimately the stream will cut a course of it's own. There's only so much any person can do to change another person's life course, and that's as it should be. Each of us has habits or inclinations that others may disapprove of, and we may know these are not respectable, but we sure don't want another to have the control of who we are, to control our life course.
When I reflect on Bentley I have rich memories that influenced who I am. I remember in the 1960's watching him build large models of ships that dad would put in antique showcases. I remember him building model rockets, and later, working with Paul for so many years on cutting edge acoustic research projects. I'm still touched by the concept of making one's hobby a career, making one's vacation a vocation, even if the big payoff never comes. Projects from the heart far outweigh meaningless projects for others for a steady paycheck.
I'm probably not alone in believing Bentley's best attributes would have been best exhibited by having him work as something other than a computer geek in a cubicle. In an ideal world he would have worked more with people, using his intellect and charisma in creative and uniquely meaningful ways, touching people with the compassion and charm that exemplified his personality.
When I think of him I'll fondly remember his intellectual passion, his depth of personality, his gentle nature. I don't remember moments of ill will or threatening anger. I remember him enthusiastically sharing with those close to him and with complete strangers in need. I fondly remember him calling kitty cats, eating Thai food, and making silly faces.
In an ideal world we would all have wonderfully dynamic, friendly and fun personalities and would all live to old age and contemplate the joys of our earlier years while still relishing each new day. In this real world we face endless disappointments and frustrations. Such is life.
As with my father's death I try to walk away from this situation with a renewed sense to appreciate every breath of life, to remember the limitations of our physical and mental selves, to have an invigorated sense of purpose to contribute in positive ways to those around me and to humankind. Having goals and aspirations can serve as an enormous boost to the will to live, and to live healthily.
Our keen sense of sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell can sometimes blind us to the frailty and limitations of our existence. A healthy existence requires moderation, exercise, and a positive outlook. For some of us it can be easy to fall into a sedentary life of malaise and self-pity.
I'll encourage you, friends of the family, to renew your sense of meaningful purpose in this life. Take a walk and observe the miracles around you, flowers, babies, music, the taste of grapes. Recognize that we are all blessed with our American lives of abundance. I'll also ask that my family members not dwell too deeply on our loss during holidays, birthdays, Mardi Gras.
I feel good knowing Brother Bentley had a dynamic upbringing in New Orleans, pursued inventive enterprises, met and developed friendships with many new people in Maryland, and over the past few years traveled to distant, exotic corners of the world.
I keep a dream journal, and even though I haven't lived near or with him in well over a decade, I still see him in my dreams once every week or two, often with other family and friends. Bentley positively touched and influenced people more than I think he realized, more than we realized at the time. He touched me very deeply, very positively, and I'm proud to have named my son Bentley.
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