Let your words be the genuine picture of your heart.
While the gurney carrying my father's body slid into the back of a black station wagon, the memory of him that danced through my mind was his simple request for a funeral song.
A snapshot of that brief exchange of words outside the choir loft. The choir had just finished singing “All Rise” before we filed out of the sanctuary to shed our robes for the remainder of the service.
His request brought tears to my eyes. Mine brought them to his. We shared an embrace and parted ways. This man, my father, was so very different than the man that I knew as a child. A man I so seldom saw after leaving home at the age of 18 before surrendering my life to Christ at 28. I was 38 when he died.
How grateful I am that I had the opportunity to get to know him over the course of that last decade of his life. Now my father had the ability to shed some tears (and at times couldn’t even control them). He was a blessing to know. My mother didn’t necessarily like all those tears, but I did.
His body was whisked away before dawn that October morning. You don’t go back home and go to sleep after an experience like that. You get into the shower and stay there a little bit longer than you normally would, and you watch your tears exit into the drain with the soap suds. We were on the road early that morning to make the 67-mile journey back to his hometown for funeral plans – navigating the same highway traveled by my friend who had recently lost her own father.
My dad had only two known requests for his funeral. Only I was the hearer of the first, and the other was known to all. He wanted that great song “All Rise” sung, and he wanted the cheapest casket available. As I put these words on the page, I am reminded of the beauty of the depths of those requests. My father understood the meaning of life, that death was not final, and that what happens to the remains of our earthly existence is inconsequential.
I do not fault the morticians for needing to make a living to support themselves, but their sales tactics didn’t fully align with with the beliefs that my father and I held (and still hold) about the remains of our earthly existence.
It isn’t too many years ago that I had a similar experience at a car lot. I needed a new vehicle to go back out on the road into a sales territory, and I wanted to do it as economically as possible. I was looking at a Toyota Corolla. I’d already owned two of them, and they'd both served me well. “Smooth Rick,” the auto salesman, wouldn’t even turn over the keys for a test drive of the Corolla until I had taken the newest Camry out for a spin. Now, if money wasn’t a concern and I didn’t need to return to the dealership to get my driver’s license and credit card being held as ransom, heading out onto the highways and byways in that Camry with all the bells, whistles and heated seats would have been easy.
He pressed a bit with his sales tactics when I handed the keys back to him. I’ve chuckled a few times remembering that exchange. “Oh doll, come on, you only go around once. Take the Camry.”
From my office window I can see my Corolla parked on the street today. My God has supplied all of my needs.