Leaving a Legacy of Treasures
I recently attended a memorial service for a friend, a woman whom I would describe as a sparkplug. Linda had been a teacher, community leader, choir director, church member, and entrepreneur who maintained a positive outlook no matter what the situation. What a legacy!
She had moved south to Florida to live with family a year ago. So the service back where she had lived didn’t take place until about three weeks after she died from injuries sustained in an accident.
Most funerals or memorial services I have attended last in the 30-to-45-minute range. Once I sat through one that lasted for 90 minutes, with about half the time taken up by a man who droned on with no awareness that everyone hoped he would cut it short.
No Clock Watching
The remarkable thing about this recent service was that while it ran for more than 90 minutes, no one seemed to care. Linda had a blended family and numerous family members talked of the enormous impact she had made on their lives. So did relatives, friends, and pastors from her former churches.
The funniest story came from one of her sons, who described her often inviting neighbors, friends or acquaintances over for food, conversation, and card or board and games.
One time a woman she invited brought her child. They sat down to play Scrabble, but Linda didn’t want to keep score, saying she didn’t want to be competitive. The guest asked why, said there seemed to be no point to that, and insisted they do.
“I realized why my mother didn’t want to keep score,” he said. “My mother destroyed that woman in Scrabble. She left and I never saw her again. I don’t know if she moved out of the neighborhood or what.”
From the Heart
While I didn’t do a head count, I would estimate about 200 people attended the service, a testament to the legacy Linda left.
At the 75-minute mark, I thought things were about over. But then the minister asked if anyone in the audience wanted to share.
Fortunately, after the first person walked up front, he offered to bring the microphone around. So many people spoke that the cleric wound up looking like the Energizer bunny.
These additional comments ran for another 30 minutes. The service started at 3:00 p.m. and ran until 4:45. The only person who slipped out was a mutual friend who likely had other matters to tend to that day.
Rushing Folks Along
This service stands in marked contrast to another I attended several years ago. The funeral was for a friend of mine, a businessman who been well-known in the community and touched numerous lives.
When it came time for comments, the minister was obviously trying to rush things along. He cut me short and didn’t call on several others who wanted to say something.
Now, I don’t know all the circumstances involved; maybe the family didn’t want a long service. Maybe it being a weekday instead of on a Saturday like Linda’s service, there were other matters at hand.
Still, I felt like that minister robbed people of the chance to honor a man who had obviously meant something to them. There’s something to be said for “paying our last respects.”
These days, no matter what the occasion, many people go rushing out the door to another appointment, forgetting they’re often leaving a treasure behind.