Friday, April 27, 2012

Make Every Second Count: You just Never Know

          Two weeks ago we left the state to be with Roland’s family.  We spent most of Friday driving, checked into a room and spent two days there.

          We didn’t meet up with the family until after 4:00 pm on Saturday.  Roland and his brother had both come from out of state to celebrate their mom’s 85th birthday.

          The eldest sister had actually sent the invitations out in January.  We had told her repeatedly that we just didn’t have the finances.  And just the week prior, we didn’t even have reliable transportation.  We ended up borrowing my mom’s car and our expenses were paid for.

          There was Elvis, and dancing, and hugs, and kisses and a tremendous surprise.  Roland’s mom had an exceptional birthday.  Cameras went off in all directions.  I would guess over 600 flashes – but that’s just a guess. 

          The next morning we posed mom and four of her five children (there was one who was unable to attend) before Roland’s brother and his wife returned to their home state.  More pictures were taken with I don’t know how many cameras.  It is nice to have those memories.  Especially now.

          Last night the family called to tell us of Roland’s older sister’s passing.  It was so unexpected.  I am still bewildered over the news.  Who knew that all of those pictures would show her in her final moments?  Wonderful, happy photographs of the very last memories we will have of her.

          We’d gone down visit before.  Maybe every other year.  Twice to bring mom back for a visit, once for the funeral of Roland’s uncle. 

          I’ve been to a lot of funerals during my lifetime.  Most have been LDS.  I like LDS funerals.  I can’t say the same for non LDS. I think I’ve been to about five that have been of another denomination.  And with each of them it has felt cold and so non-personal to me.  For it seems that anyone could be lying in that casket and the sermon would be exactly the same.

          Not all LDS funerals leave one feeling good about the person or the way the arrangements were made – but for the most part (at least in my experience) LDS funerals are beautiful and filled with love and devotion.  For the most part, even if you may not be familiar with the deceased, by the time the services end, you will know something.

          We sat around for two hours at Uncle Gil’s.  There was a small amount of hushed visiting and family members taking a break for their smokes and returning to the mostly empty pews.

          With most LDS funerals I have attended, there is a viewing beforehand.  And there has always been a line.
          The services are usually done by friends or family members – remembering and honoring those that have passed on.
          The Relief Society (women’s organization) rallies around the family – often providing the family with a meal for after the services.

          Roland’s family doesn’t have any of that.  They could.  But choose not to.  For Uncle Gil they hired a preacher, a minister, a man of the cloth – I actually don’t know what his title was.  A handsome sum of money was donated by the family members who might attend on Christmas and Easter (if that)  It felt as though they were trying to buy Uncle Gil’s way into heaven.

          I think the family would find a lot more comfort if they were to allow Roland and myself to conduct – because we would honor his sister by holding the kind of funeral that I am used to attending.

          I’ve given talks at funerals before.  I spoke at my great-grandmothers, my grandma’s and my dad’s.  I thought my dad’s was wonderful.  I talked a bit about daddy’s childhood and how he had met my mom.  Patrick took over with honoring him as a family man. 

          Corey was out of the country at the time.  We played a message that he had recorded prior to my father’s death.  And Kayla (who was in her last year at high school) sang “My Father’s Eyes” There was music.  It was a really nice service.
          After Bill’s (my brother-in-law) first wife died, I learned things about her that I hadn’t known before her passing. There were some really nice talks at that one as well.

          There are many LDS funerals that seem to go on and on – but as a whole, I think they are nice tributes and find a lot more comfort in them than these “impersonal sermons” as I call them.  I just don’t find the same sense of peace that I do with LDS funerals.

          We are still awaiting details.  But these are my thoughts at this time.  


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