Sunday, July 5, 2009


I shouldn’t be doin’ this. It’s 10:30. I should be in bed. But, as I was trying to put on my pajamas, I got to thinking again of the interesting experience I had this evening. From my past history, if I don’t “jot it down”, I’m liable to forget it.

(Let me hasten to add that this is not going to be morbid, sad or otherwise make anyone uncomfortable, just because it‘s entitled “Funerals”. The story just came about because of a funeral. OK?)

As we do every Tuesday evening here at The Grand Court, we had Bible Study at 7:30 PM. Leading this meeting is a young man just short of 55 years of age, who was saved in Chicago several years ago, while running with a crowd of black boys like himself. He’s been doing this every Tuesday for 14 years. I got to thinking a little bit ago, that he is probably the longest serving person here. He has a full time job elsewhere, and a family. But he feels led of God to share his Bible knowledge and his experiences with us every Tuesday.

I PROBABLY should do a story about him, but that’s not what got me started pounding on this computer tonight, instead of going to bed.

Funerals is what started it.

Our bible class includes from 5 to 10 people every week. Not everyone comes each week, as you can imagine. But one lady, named Dorothy, has never missed, if I have my right guess.

That’s STILL not what I want to talk about.

It’s funerals. (Did I mention that?)

A lady came tonight that hasn’t been to one of these since I started coming early in March. I’m sure she has attended in the past.

Let me tell you something about her:

She just turned 96 years of age, and except for walking slowly with a walker, she CERTAINLY doesn’t show her age. She lives across the hall from me, and we often leave at the same time for our 8:00 AM breakfast. I, of course, pass her up, “marching” down the hall as everyone here kids me about.

I was more than a little bit interested in her, because of several things:

1. She told me recently that she remembered my Mother and Dad. (My dad died in 1976, and my mother, in ’70! He was 92, and she, 84.)

2. “And I remember your sister too!” It turns out that she and my sister Miriam were born the same year. Miriam would have been 96 next July 8.

Let me interject here that this lady (I don’t want to invade her privacy by giving her name) has lived in the Catawba area, and her father was a Methodist Minister, who died at age 55. Catawba is a little town kinda between Mechanicsburg and Springfield.

3. On the occasion just mentioned, I said to her, “Do you also remember Miriam in her Beauty Parlor in Mechanicsburg?” “Oh yes,” she said. My sister had opened that shop shortly after High School, and it must have been 1934 or ’35 that she remembered her.

4. After that, she and I discussed various Methodist ministers we both remembered, and we had an enjoyable time of fellowship.

So, when she showed up at the Bible Study tonight, I was especially interested in watching her in the songs we sang. What did they mean to her, in her memory?

In our class, our leader passes out “song books”, and asks us for suggestions of what songs to sing. When others hesitate, I sometimes suggest one. And the fellow next to me always has one to suggest.

We were singing when this lady arrived, so we gave her a book, and when the song was ended, we asked her to pick one. “Well”, she said. “How about ‘He Lives?’” So we sang that. She mostly mouthed the words without looking at the book.

Then, someone suggested “The Old Rugged Cross”.

We began singing that, and after the song got started, I noticed this lady kinda laying the book in her lap, and “gazing off” over our heads. She was sitting across from me.

You know inquisitive me, so I said, “Mrs. (name), I noticed that when we started singing ‘The Old Rugged Cross’, your mind seemed to kinda wander. What were you thinking of, if I may ask?” (Some fond church memory, or her father preaching, or something like that, I was sure.)

She STARTLED me when she said, rather forcefully, “I have NEVER liked The Old Rugged Cross, and I’ll tell you why.”

“Please do”, I said.

“When I was just a small child, the Ku Klux Klan came to our church with their big black robes, and doling out money, and being so pompous, and when they left, someone played ‘The Old Rugged Cross’. I was scared to death. I’ve never liked it since.” (She apparently couldn’t match the Cross of Jesus with the hatred that THEIR cross signified. By the way, she is not African American, as you might expect.)

So I said, “What are some of the songs you DO like? I noticed you chose ‘He Lives’ as one.”?

She said, “I’ve always loved The Lord’s Prayer. I hope someone sings that at my funeral!”

I said, “I imagine that could be arranged.”

“Arranging my funeral, you mean?”, she said, with a grin on her face.

I wondered to myself, if some of her family should know about her antipathy toward The Old Rugged Cross, but her liking “He Lives”, and her fondness for “The Lord’s Prayer”.

So………I left the Class immediately, whispering to my neighbor that I’d be back, and I came here to my room and called her “loving” nephew, who, with his wife, visits her regularly. It was already after 8PM, and I didn’t want to wait until after the class. I told him what had transpired with his aunt.

He said, “Mike, I REALLY appreciate your sharing these songs with me.” From observing him in the past, I am sure that he will “see to” her request - to the letter.

That’s not all.

What actually prompted this posting was my silent thoughts about this beautiful 96 year old Christian lady, saying what she wanted sung at her funeral.

I thought to myself, that I haven’t ONCE thought what songs to be sung at my Memorial Service. Why is that?

My conclusion: “I’m not 96 yet!”

I HAVE written the basics of my Obituary (for accuracy), and asked my sons to sing a duet or two. I MAY have suggested the name of a song to them, but I don’t think so. I’m not going to look up my note to them at this time of night, for heaven’s sake! (I HAVE arranged some things at the Funeral Home. All paid, actually!)

It’s 11:02! Not bad, except that by this time I’ve normally listened to maybe 12 to 15 songs on my iPod before going to sleep.

Bonne nuit! (You guessed it. I’ve started working on my French again.)

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