I’ve been to three funerals in the past eight days and am thoroughly exhausted. Two services were for elderly men who had been sick for some time. One was for a close friend’s son. It was the hardest one.
Last night I went to the wake/visitation/viewing/whatever-you-call-it of my friend’s son. My friend actually had two sons: one with serious health problems and one healthy as an ox. But it was the healthy son who died. The preliminary report said he’d had a severe epileptic seizure – only the second seizure he’d ever had. He was twenty-nine years old, married with a six-year-old son. He and his wife had recently separated and she blames herself for his death because she was always the one who reminded him to take his meds. His young widow felt as though he’d still be alive if they had still been together. And of course, my friend is inconsolable as well. Please pray for comfort and strength for both of these women.
The second funeral was for a godly man in his 70’s with cancer. He’d been given six months to live – six years ago! His daughter and son-in-law go to our little church and he often joined them at our services. He always had a beautiful smile on his face, even when he became so emaciated from the cancer treatments. A pharmacist, he often contributed to those who were less fortunate in the community. And many times he gave substantial sums to support worthy causes. But all his charitable works were done quietly and humbly – as Christ commanded.
His funeral was a lovely time of remembrance of his life. A string quartet and huge pipe organ played beautiful renditions of familiar hymns. His pastor spoke of the quiet testimony of his life. In fact, we even laughed a couple of times during the eulogy. It was very heartening to see his family smile quietly as the followed his casket from the church.
The first funeral was September 6th and I’m going to write a little more about it because I know a little more about it. You see, it was my daddy’s. Just 23 days short of his 95th birthday, Daddy was the youngest son of a farmer and spent most of his life working in a cotton mill in my hometown. We didn’t have a lot as I was growing up, but he saw to it that we always had what we needed.
He was admitted to the hospital on Friday with pneumonia. And by Monday he’d gotten better – planning to go home Tuesday. Instead, his oxygen levels started dropping, and his remaining kidney stopped functioning correctly. He began to talk about seeing Jesus reaching down for him and told us to talk “those twelve men” in the corner of his hospital room. We were so thankful that he was able squeeze our hand when we asked him questions, but we could tell he was fading away.
A strong, independent man, he’d lost a kidney to cancer, but had finally beaten it. Still, he was ready to “home.” Macular degeneration left him mostly blind, seeing only dark and light shapes. The past few months his body had betrayed him by getting frail. He was so thankful that his mind was sharp as ever. But he just couldn’t understand why he was still here on this earth.
As he lay in his hospital bed, he asked every nurse and almost every visitor (there were quite a few) if they knew his Jesus. All but one said, “Yes.” He shared the good news with that male nurse and prayed for his salvation. (I have to think that may have been the reason he’d lived so long.) We don’t know if the nurse accepted Christ or not – please pray for him.
You know what’s funny? Even in death, he witnessed. He requested that his funeral service not have a typical eulogy. Instead, he asked that the topic be directed to the unsaved and that the speaker issue an invitation at the end.
What a wonderful inheritance I and my brothers and sister have! Although we did our share of crying, my cheeks were sore at the end of the day from smiling and laughing because we knew he’d gone home to be with his Savior.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4