December 10th, 1998

 

Good Afternoon,
    
I am Reverend Patricia Mischell, with the Hope Ministries, In Cincinnati, Ohio where Flip was a speaker and member for the last eighteen years. I am honored that Flip Wilson requested that I be the one who would write and give his eulogy.
 
Today, my friends, we are gathered together to share with each other our deepest sorrow of losing our most beloved friend, father, grandfather, brother, relative, companion,  business acquaintance and fan of Clerow Wilson, best known to the world as Flip Wilson.
 
A man who was born into poverty, raised in foster homes.  Entered the Air Force, and there he earned his nickname Flip, because of his "flip" sense of humor. Flip was a charismatic figure.  He merits a place in the book of "great people".  By reason of his having lived an ordinary life extraordinarily well.
 
Flip was one of the greatest entertainers and comedians of our times.  Flip was born on this earth with the capacity to become as he did a unique and special person.  Unlike any who has ever existed before him or will ever exist again.
 
Flip was born into life to create magic.  And this he did.  He became the grand magician as he became the first successful black host of a television variety show who turned himself into such characters as sassy, Geraldine, an unseen person named Killer, and the Reverend Leroy, the pastor of the Church of What's Happenin' Now.  He went on to create more magic with  "People are Funny" and his CBS sitcom "Charlie & Company" which co-starred singer Gladys Knight.
 
His shows now can be seen on cable Nick at Nite.  What a great joy to know that my grandchildren have the opportunity, as I have had, to see him.  What a great legacy for his family.
 
Know, my friends, that our dear beloved Flip is not asleep.  His soul is intoxicated with the love of God.  That same love he shared with so many of us while on the earth.
 
He is in comfort, finally at peace.  He asks that we not shed tears for him, but rather remember the good days when he was in his harvest of life.  Flip, believed in Eternal life.  Death, then for Flip is the key to the door of a new life, a new beginning for him. And I know our dear friend is on his Harley today riding through those canyons with the wind on his face as he did when he was here on the earth.  He is in comfort, finally at peace.  He ask that we not shed tears for him, but rather remember the good days when he was in the harvest of life.  Flip believed in Eternal Life.
 
Death, then for Flip is the key to the door of a new life, a new beginning for him.  When we think of our dear friend and what he is doing now, think of him in his hot air balloon flying in the Heavens, which was one of his favorite hobbies.  Or think of Flip playing golf on one of the most magnificent golf courses in the world.  Or see him standing at the helm of the Grandest of all Cruise Ships in the world traveling to the most awesome sites and places we can only imagine.
 
I know that when we love someone as we do Flip, there is an anxiety about the loss of our loved one. And this is because death appears as the end of our love.  And yet, my friends, love never ends with death, it is just the beginning of how to really love the one who has gone.  During the many years I knew Flip, I saw a man who was not a publicity seeker, nor a limelight lover.  He worked quietly, humbly, but all the more effectively.
 
Flip lived in a world of his own design.   With every comfort Flip would cloak himself, somehow he knew it only moved him further from the One source he really sought.  Whenever he would buy a trinket, an object, a picture, or a piece of jewelry, often he would give it up to someone he would meet.
 
I asked him one day why he did this? And Flip's reply: " My joy  is in seeing the light peeking out from another's eyes."
 
Even in Flip's last days of life, although he was racked with pain he still found time to make his nurses laugh.   His cheerfulness and lucidity belied the fatal character of his illness.
 
Flip devoted himself to helping people of all ages.  He did not confuse his priorities.  When they lacked groceries, or their roofs leaked and the wiring in there run-down quarters wouldn't work, Flip didn't pray to God to help these people acquire the where-withal to make the necessary repairs, instead he had them repaired at his own expense.  I cannot count on my hands how many  young people Flip has put through college.
 
Let me take you back a little and share with you how Flip and I began our spiritual friendship eighteen years ago.
 
Flip had just toasted Dr. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral here in California, who was my mentor and teacher at that time.
 
One of my parishioners had moved  to California during this time to be close to her grandchild. She became employed as a cook for Flip and it was through her I was introduced to him.
 
She shared with Flip about my ministry, my up coming trip to Egypt and that I would be attending  Dr. Schuller's Institute on Successful Church Leadership in just a few weeks.
 
It was during that trip I was introduced to Flip. Shortly thereafter Flip and his cook joined us on our trip to Egypt. It was there in Egypt in a land far away, filled with the most beautiful sacred sights the eyes can behold, Flip and I began our spiritual connection.  Flip would pray daily, along with our group, at the many sacred sights for World peace.
 
The most moving experience for all of us was when we climbed 500 feet up into the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza.   All of us were sitting in silence, praying for our loved ones and for World peace.  It was then Flip began reciting "The Mother" one of Kahlil Gibran's poems.  As the tears flowed from his eyes we all could feel his pain.  We were so moved by his words, we could not help but cry with him.
 
I believe today the same 'Eternal Mother Spirit' Flip recited so eloquently so long ago now holds him tenderly in her arms and wipes his tears away.
 
In October of 1984 was the beginning of Flip's many visits to our ministry to speak on his favorite subject Kahlil Gibran.  Each visit Flip would choose a theme and I would work my sermon around it.  On his first visit Flip chose the theme "Love" taken from Kahlil Gibran's works, "The Prophet."  
 
It was during this visit our congregation had it's first glimpse of the depth of Flip's 'Love' for the human race.  One of our parishioner's father passed away during Flip's visit.  Although he had only met her briefly on our Egypt trip, he insisted on visiting her fathers funeral to pay his last respects.  That, my friends, was love in its purest sense.  Yes, Flip gave love without reservation.  And he never asked for anything in return.  Flip shared his love of God by loving unconditionally his fellow man.
 
Another time while speaking at our church, Flip  spoke about old age using the works of Gibran's, "The Speechless Animal." The story is about an old dog that is covered with sores who had fallen on weekend legs.  He had served man both with faith and loyalty and yet in his old age, he was driven from his home and was abandoned in the alleys. Again, the tears flowed from his eyes as he recited this beautiful composition.  I encourage you to read this poem one day for yourself, there is a great lesson in it for all of us.
 
After Flip recited "The Speechless Animal," he shared with us how his appreciation for this piece had developed from an experience he had during a ride across Colorado.
 
Flip had taken two weeks of flying lessons and was on his way back home, when he pulled into a rest stop along the side of the road. Before he could get out of his car a dog  came out of the fields next to the rest stop and sat down in front of Flip's car.
 
Flip said, he always thought that animals knew what they wanted to do, so he got out of the car and opened up the side door of the car and waited for the dog to get in.  Well, the dog came around to the side of the car, looked into the car,  but he didn't get in. So Flip closed the side door of the car and got into the drivers seat to pull away and darn if the dog didn't come right back and sit down in front of the car so Flip couldn't move.  Flip said, "he got out of the car walked around to the side of the car and opened up the side door again."  The dog came around to the side of the car and looked into the car, but wouldn't get in."  So Flip said, "He waited a few minutes, closed the car door, got back into drivers seat, gave the car some gas, backed up so he wouldn't hit the dog.  Sure enough the dog comes around sits right down in front of the car so Flip couldn't move." 
 
Now Flip decides he is going to try a different strategy.  He thinks, "Maybe I need to get down on the level of the dog."   So he gets out of the car, lays down on the ground, and the dog comes over and sniffs Flip all over.  After the dog stops sniffing Flip.  Flip gets up and opens the car door again and invites the dog to come in.  The dog looks inside but  he still doesn't get in. So Flip say's to himself, "That's it."  So he gets back into the car to drive away and the dog comes back and sits down in front of his car so he can't leave.
 
Now by this time his friend in the car say's "Oh no, Flip, were not going through this again!"  So his friend gets out of the car and picks up the dog, puts the dog in the back seat and Closed the door.  The dog just sits there and looks at the two of them as if to say,  "Hey you dummies why didn't you do this a long time ago." 
 
So Flip said, "The dog had been with him ever since."  In fact he said, "That dog was the best friend he ever had in his life." Flip said, "Out of all the pedigree dogs I have ever owned, those five, six or seven hundred dollar Hollywood dogs, they never compared with the dog that came out of the field and went to Hollywood to live with me.  Because that's where he wanted to be."
 
On another visit to speak, Flip, chose the subject,  "The Greatest Experience of Man."  I chose 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, Verse 12. which says:  "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."  Keep this verse in  mind as I share Flip's story with you.
 
Flip, told us the story of a British army officer who had served many years in His Majesty's forces in India.  Flip said, "The officer had come through many frightening experiences.  In his old age he returned to his native England to spend his declining days on his home soil.  Well, one day some friends persuaded him to tell them something of his life and service in India.  With great gusto, he describes the battles in which he had fought and sieges in which he had taken part.  He told of being ambushed and surprised by the enemy.  He told of his part in the Mutiny, which was a bloody affair.  His friends in breathless interest strained to hear every word of his account and  at last the veteran officer declared:  "Yet, gentlemen, I expect to see something more thrilling than anything I have ever seen up to now." His Friends thought, "What could be more exciting than what he had gone through?"   What experience could be more nerve-tingling than the battles and struggles he had already weathered?
 
The Friends knew he was past seventy and retired from active service.  So they  waited to hear what could be more exciting.  After a pause, he said slowly and softly, almost in an undertone, "The best is yet to come."  "My greatest experience will be the first five minutes after death." Flip's words "The best is yet to come" are very familiar with those of us who have known him over the years. In fact, it was one of Flip's favorite sayings!
 
Why have I shared this story with you?  It's because I was with Flip during the last few days of his life, and was able to experience first-hand Flip's beginning journey into God's World.
 
One time while praying with Flip he reached up his arms into the the air, a smile formed on his lips, as he began a conversation with his Father who had passed away a long time ago." It was then,  I knew that God was dropping the veil from Flip's eyes, allowing him to take a  peak into the world he would soon be apart of. Another time while praying out loud with him, Flip interrupted me with these words, "Oh!  Look at the beautiful light.  The light is so bright.  It's so colorful.  I have never seen anything like it."  It was moments like these I knew not to speak.   For it was then I knew Flip was in the midst of viewing, admiring, enjoying something beyond my worldly understanding.  As I sat quietly with him, out of the silence he uttered the words, "Not yet.  I am not ready!"
 
Wednesday morning, on November 25th, the day before Thanksgiving, Flip was ready. That morning Flip reached up his arms into the air as he had done so often before.  With a smile on his lips and his eyes opened wide, looking into the air he says to his nurse, "The angels are here."  Kahlil Gibran, describes this event in his writings of, "A Poet's Death Is His Life."  I quote, "Then at the bedside of the dying poet appeared an angel who possessed a supernatural and divine beauty, holding in her hand a wreath of lilies.  She embraced him and closed his eyes so he could see no more, except with the eye of his spirit.  She impressed a deep and long and gently withdrawn kiss that left an eternal smile of fulfillment upon his lips."
 
Yes, now Flip was ready!  His angels had come to comfort him, to assist him in his last few moments of living, and to be with him, during his "first five minutes after death."  This was only one of the many beautiful experiences Flip had before he left us.   I believe during these visions Flip had acquired a knowledge of God  that goes beyond the wisdom of even the greatest theologians.
 
Flip knew things which the keenest minds of all ages have tried to understand and figure out.  So, it's no wonder that the experienced, veteran officer Flip spoke to us about from India, who had gone through some of the most thrilling experiences possible to man, nevertheless still looked forward to the most thrilling of them all.  'The first five minutes after death."
 
I believe Flip and  that old soldier expressed a thought upon which each of us might dwell on today. And that is, "What will our soul experience during our first five minutes after death?"     I believe Flip's soul experienced the truth of St. Paul's words to the Corinthians "For now we see in a mirror, dimly but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." 
 
Yes, it was in those 'First five minutes after death' God lifted the veil fully from Flip's eyes so that he could really see face to face.  No longer with dim vision.  Flip knew as he had always known. Yes, Flip knew at that moment what he had always been believing in.  This was for real.  He was actually seeing.  No longer did he merely believe!
 
It was this truth that led Flip into the silence of his Being.  It is here Flip began to remember all that he had forgotten.  He began to remember where he had come from.  And it was then he saw the face of God and he spoke to his angels.
 
May today's memorial service for this good man live in our hearts forever.  There is a shrine in our hearts to him, more enduring than the most solid stone or steel could erect.
 
We all know of the many memorials which Flip himself has left  to our world. So let us ask ourselves, "what kind of memorials can we build for him? How will we keep Flip's memory fresh in our sad hearts?" I do not believe Flip would want us to flatter him.  They say the highest form of flattery is imitation. By that we mean, the greatest praise one can give a person I believe is to live like that person, to think, to speak, and to act like that individual. 
 
Here then is our memorial to you Flip Wilson!  "May the example of your good works, your love for those less fortunate then yourself, be an inspiration to every single one of us."  This is the legacy, I believe, Flip wishes to leave behind. As we leave this memorial service today, may we leave with laughter and you Flip in our hearts.  For we know that God is now laughing as you bring to Him your laughter and your wit you gave to all of us so freely.
 
I believe these would be the words Flip would share with you today.  My friends and my family become aware of your light.  Your power.   Become aware of your strength that is born within each of you.  Learn to use your inner resources in service of your own and others' growth, as I have tried to do while in the earth.  Because of the reflection of that love; because of your loving behavior, you will shine a light that will brighten the darkness of the time we live in, whether it is in a sickroom of a dying patient, or on the corner of a ghetto street in California, or in your own home.
 
As I close, know that Flip now rests from his labors of the earth.  And from the words of Kahlil Gibran's, "The Beauty of Death",  Flip says and I paraphrase: Let me rest in the arms of Slumber, for my open eyes are tired.  I have passed a mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the firmament of complete and unbound freedom;  and I can hear nothing but the music of Eternity; I have fought the battle of death and now I have released my soul to my heavenly Father.
                   

 
 
Copyright 2000 Patricia Mischell & The Positive Living Center
 All Rights Reserved
 
http://www.patriciam.com

 

 

Tribute to Flip | Flip's Trip | Flip's Wilson TV | Flip Wilson's Memorial | Flip Wilson's Obituary | Order of Services | Jesus Christ Said | The Wilson's Family Thanks youFlip & Kahlil Gibran