I attended a great-aunt’s funeral yesterday. I’m not the most socially apt person in hospitals or funeral homes – both of them put me on edge. I don’t recall going to funerals for most of my adult life, but it wasn’t because I avoided them. I was just fortunate enough to not lose anyone close to me for a long period of time.
One advantage of having young parents is that there’s an extra generation of family you get to know. As a child, I remember the deaths of my great-great grandmother, my great-grandfather, and three great-grandmothers. The third of those was when I was 23. My aunt Jackie’s husband Roy Dale died tragically 29 years ago. But I really don’t remember any of the funerals.
In the 1990’s, we lost each my wife’s grandmothers, and my memories of the funerals are times filled with crying and sorrow. That’s what funerals are, right?
Unfortunately, over the last few years the next generation of my family has started to be called home to the Church Triumphant. But amazingly, there haven’t been many tears. One uncle’s wake was more of a party – a real celebration of his life. In fact, Credence Clearwater Revival’s Rollin’ on the River was played during the service. Even most of my cousins yesterday were able to laugh and joke around most of the day. In fact the running joke for some I talked to was that I was now the “Famous Cousin” due to my recent book. Talk about feeling uncomfortable! I don’t recall seeing anyone crying, but we created another layer of memories to smile about.
I think my Uncle Dave best summed up the traditional circle of life (many, many, times during the day) with the following saying, and it definitely reflects the Christian faith regarding death:
“When we come into this world, we’re screaming and crying and everyone around us is smiling. But when we leave this world, everyone we love is crying – yet we’re smiling – because we’re going home.”
Nora Jacqueline Hunt was looking out the window and smiling shortly before she died. Jackie has gone home, and I’m sure Roy Dale was waiting with open arms. She will be missed, but any tears that are shed are not for her, but for us, until we see her again.
However, the thought of Heaven brings tears of joy to my eyes. Thank you Jesus, for the price you paid for her.