Do you attend funerals? Some people refuse to go to any. Some people attend every one that comes along. I’m one of those in-between people…depends on my mood of the day. And a bit on who the deceased was in my life. Did I know them a long time? Did I work with them? Were they arm-length friends? Family member? It may seem odd to Readers, but that last category is the one I attend the least. I am not close to the distant family I have. I didn’t grow up with much family around us. My mother’s brothers all died at young ages (my mother lived to be 86) so I did attend a number of those. (Have I ever told you that my mother was one of 8 children, my dad one of 7?)
Over the years I have attended some wonderful funerals, or as we tend to call them here, memorial services. It’s seldom that the deceased is at their own service. Those who lived a long, productive life, always giving to others, always benefitting the community, are the ones I really enjoy. You hear inspirational stories of what they accomplished in their life. You hear about the history of their family and how many overcame great disadvantages to make it and succeed in life. Secrets are often revealed at these services.
Yesterday, on a 104-degree afternoon, I headed out to the funeral of a gentleman who died on Sunday (a really quick turnaround for a service on Wednesday) and who had recently turned 100 years old. This man had lived an exemplary life. He was a devoted husband, caring for an invalid wife for over a decade before she succumbed. He had raised two successful sons. He had a good career and was well known for what he did in all areas of his life. I had known him for 42 years of those 100. I expected the service to be well attended and the stories would lift my soul.
Hah! Fooled me. There were no stories. Only TWO long sermons on the same Bible passage, one preached by the man’s 72 year old son, a minister, and one preached by the youngish pastor of the church where the deceased had been a member for 60+ years. There was no live music as the church no longer has a music director but has switched over to a rock n roll band to lead praise choruses on Sunday, and none of the hard rock band members were available on a hot weekday afternoon. Although the songs that were selected were old standard hymns, the canned music did not match the words displayed on the screens. The youngish pastor hardly knew the life of the old time member. He mispronounced the name of the man’s deceased wife. And again, there were NO STORIES.
This was one funeral where I not only grieved for the life gone, but for the poorly executed service that did not do justice to that life.