I attended the funeral of a neighbor lady yesterday. She had lived a long life, been married for over sixty years, and was anticipating the arrival of her second great-grandchild. Many knew her as a woman who was active in the community. Her great-granddaughter knew her as “Jelly Bean Grandma.” I knew her as Mrs. R., the white-haired lady who lived in the big white house across the road and grew beautiful marigolds and zinnias. When Dad had to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night, it was Mrs. R. who was there with my brother and me. And when we needed filberts, it was to their orchard we went.In the little funeral chapel, I sat behind a cousin of my dad’s. As she cried, I thought of how we were both remembering another white-haired lady who was very dear to both of us: my own Great Grandma R. Just like Mrs. R., Great Grandma was known for her baking, for her garden, and for spoiling her great-grandchildren. While Mrs. Roner was a pillar of our small-town community, Great Grandma was a hidden pillar in her church family. Just as Mrs. Roner was there to babysit us, Great Grandma was there with a warm loaf of bread when someone needed nourished in body and soul. Both women were a tower of strength and love in their families.
As I spoke with another former neighbor, who didn’t recognize me for the little girl with red pigtails who used to play in the yard next to his, I realized how quickly the years have passed by. And as I cried when Stacy told us that it was just three weeks ago she had told her grandma that another great-grandchild was on the way, never dreaming that her grandma wouldn’t be there for the baby’s birth, I realized anew the fragility of life.
I drove away from the funeral home yesterday day with tears in my eyes that matched the rain outside, but a peace in my heart that few at the funeral had reflected on their faces. Because I placed my life in God’s hands long ago, I know my home is in Heaven someday. Funerals give me a renewed sense of God’s sovereignty. Because death puts life into perspective.