This evening we paid respects for a young man who lost his life this week. He was the son-in-law of a woman from our church and he leaves behind two young sons.
We went into the funeral home, hugged our friend and went into the next room to pay our condolences.
In that room sat the two sons. Dressed alike with ball caps on. Cute boys, not exactly certain what was happening, grasping that their Daddy was no longer there, and looking about the room at the tears and the somber people gathered there.
As we stood in line to pay our respects, a flood of memories came crashing into my mind. This is just one of many funeral homes I have been to in my life, and yet, this time, hit me with vivid recollections of a week in September 1966.
My Mom died on September 27th, 1966. We had three days of activity. Two with viewings at the funeral home, we were there during the day and the evening. The third day was a family viewing and then the funeral.
I remember being a child in those surroundings. Seeing people who usually are full of life and smiles, now holding handkerchiefs and dabbing eyes. Uncles who would be smoking cigars and drinking a beer, laughing and joking, now speaking in hushed tones and giving more hugs than usual. The same uncles shaking their heads in confusion and sadness.
I recall classmates coming in with their parents. The kids looking at me, unsure as to what to say and repeating what their folks instructed them to say. Hearing unfamiliar words from kids, and not really knowing what to do, but knowing I was supposed to say thank you.
I looked at those two young boys this evening, knowing their lives will never be the same. They don’t know that yet. It won’t sink in. The older one will remember this time, the younger may, but, the memories will fade and the memories of stories of this time will be what he remembers and leans on.
I know that it was a horrible week in many ways, but there were also some fun things. After the funeral, there was the traditional wake at our house. My cousins were all there, even the out-of-town cousins. We were all dressed in our best and that left us unable to go climb trees and play outside. I remember making several trips to the neighborhood store. We would get bored talking and sitting around, and head into the kitchen, there one of our uncles would reach into his pocket and pull out money, handing it to one of us. We would then head back to the store to get more goodies to eat, even though the kitchen was filled with food and desserts and sodas.
I hadn’t thought of many of these memories in a very long time. This evening, in that room, they all came rushing back to me. I felt my eyes fill up with tears and I hurriedly blinked them back.
My heart is full tonight of days past. Seasons long gone. I pray for those boys whose lives are now different. May our sweet Lord bless them with a good strong life. May their hearts be strong and open. Most of all, may they have peace and security and direction with a sense of who they are and what they can accomplish.
Thanks for stopping by this evening, DAF.