Saturday, March 20, 2010

Comanch’s Funeral--and UltraRunning

A couple weeks ago the bride and I attended a memorial service for Wellington “Comanch” Permansu, of Greencastle, PA, a friend and former neighbor. He was 72 at the time of his death, with a wife and daughter.

Comanch had been cremated within a couple days of his death and the memorial service followed a couple weeks later at the convenience of the family. What made his memorial service unusual--and you may have figured this out from his nickname--was was that he was a Comanche Indian, born in western Oklahoma. I never even knew his real first name was Wellington...he was always just Comanch.

One Comanch’s sisters attended the memorial and provided recordings of “Amazing Grace” and the 23rd Psalm, in the Comanche language. The words were unfamiliar, but the cadence and the rhythm and the sense of soothing peace were unmistakable regardless of the language.

His obituary is here…he was a kind, gentle spirit who will be missed.  He was not a runner, but he knew that I was a long-distance runner and never failed to ask me about my running career whenever he saw me. Never failed.

Comanch could remember what was important to whomever he was talking to. And many of us are somewhat shy about talking about UltraRunning in a mixed group, just for fear of being looked at askance as being a sort of nut job.  But Comanch was interested, asked the right questions, and always made me feel that my running was important to him.

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