Last week I was at a funeral for a 98-year-old friend. Today was another funeral for a friend’s 90-year-old father who played piano for events planned by a committee I served on for many years. That committee really was one of the most fun ministries in which I have ever participated–and it was all about grief and dying. Who knew that could happen?! Ah, the irony of it all.
Life is like that though. Some of the best moments turn us on our head. This committee was filled with laughter in the midst of planning memorial events. We celebrated on occasion with amazing food. We cared about each other and the people we served. I looked around at the faces of these committee members during the reception and remembered what we had done and how we had done it. These people had created beauty in my life and in those who found themselves bereaved. A smile of gratitude crept onto my face.
Because I arrived just as the service was beginning, I had slipped quietly into an empty chair in the last row in the worship room at the care centre. There at the front was a large photograph of the man who had passed away. He was amongst us still. The beauty of his life was about to be told. His grandkids got up and shared some rememberings. When his son and two daughters stood at the front and shared their stories, we were plunged into the good, the bad, and the ugly. His son began with the tale of a mentally ill mother, a divorce, a heartbroken father, a custody battle, and the eventual suicide that left the children again in their father’s care. He, with his sisters, wove glittering strands upon a fabric that had dark patches here and bright colours there. They brought us to tears with their love for a man who loved deeply–each of his family members, music, and the world. As I listened, I wondered, what will people say about me when I am gone? Has my life had as much grace and beauty as this man’s? Have I been loved as much as him? More importantly, have I loved as much?
I lingered in the reception area where the photos and favourite belongings of this man’s were on display. The family had lovingly created an intimate space. His favourite books, the music sheets he used to play songs on the piano, the caps he wore, and photos were laid out for all to see. Such a privilege to get this glimpse of the man who I remember as being more than gracious, always willing to support us, and a gentlemen from the same era as the woman whose funeral I attended last week. That era birthed some fine folks.
What will people say about you when you are gone? How do you want the beauty of your life remembered? If you were to set up a display about your life, what would it entail? We are entering the holiest week of the year, beginning with Palm Sunday. We are all running the same race, heading to the same place. No one remains here forever. Sow seeds of beauty and joy now so that when the harvest is gathered an amazing crop is the result.