I went to the funeral of a very dear family friend today.
Auntie J and her husband were responsible for my being named “unexpected delight”. My husband and I went on double dates with them while a’courting. She was my second grandma after my own died.
The service was sweet. Family members told stories about her humour, wit, adventuresome spirit, and her stalwart dedication to all. She was a devoted and practical lover of anyone who came into her world.
She treated every person like they were the most important person in the whole world. From the little toddler, to the great preacher, everyone was just as special.
She was quiet, but not flowery. She said it like it was. Funny and to the point.
I was suprised at the number of memories of her great cooking, since one of the first things she told me was how much she hated to cook!
She spent much of her time as a missionary in various parts of the world. A few years ago, she was jokingly invited to go back to Jamaica and she said, “Lets go!”.
The last few years she lived in a nursing home and referred to her collegues as “fellow inmates”. One day, she rolled herself outside in her wheelchair. She then took off down the hill directly beside the doors. The staff couldn’t catch her but found her calm as could be at the bottom. When asked what she was doing she calmly replied, “I just lifted up my feet and went for a ride.”
Her grandchildren told such great stories, we laughed and cried. I even went up to sing with the young people of my old church.
It would have been perfect!
But, some other people had to speak. Not relatives. Not even close friends. Church leaders. None of this woman’s descendents go to that church, but I doubt they were suprised at the content.
One man talked on and on about the woman’s husband. Then he said, “Oh, I was thinking about J___ today, and she was a great example.”
Then he talked about sausage samples in Costco. For a long time. I missed the spiritual significance.
Then he talked about salvation. He talked about preaching. I was distracted by a baby who was unhappy more people weren’t watching her instead.
Then another man got up. And talked about himself. And talked about salvation. And preached a bit about how athiests are lost. And challenged anyone to come and talk to him about spiritual matters so he could help them.
Now, Auntie J was a devout woman. But I was annoyed. She will always be special to me. I cherish her memories and the gifts she has given me, including a hand-knitted baby sweater. I wanted to celebrate her life. I did think it out of place for these church leaders to talk about themselves and guilt trip any potentially ‘deviant’ family members.
(Lil’T went up to sing with me. She told her daddy later that she thought all the people in the pews were mad because she was a kid and kids weren’t allowed. I told her Auntie J would have loved her singing and the adults were just sad. I hope she believes me.)