I did myself a favour this week. I observed two funerals. For one I was in attendance and for the other I was among millions of television viewers. Each of the men was known for spoken and written words, for an enduring smile, for a lifetime of service to others. Each of them was a beloved grandfather. Each of them had experienced loss and heartache in life. Each exhibited a contagious joy and optimism. Yet, they could not have been more different one from the other.
Each funeral was two hours in length. Each was personal, touching and an appropriate tribute to each man’s memory. One funeral was unadorned, evangelical in content and well attended by two hundred people. The deceased was 93 years of age at death. The other ceremony was sacramental, Roman Catholic, attended by thousands and telecast globally. The departed person was 77 years of age when he died.
It was good for me to observe both of these memorial services because of the stimulus they have been to my determination as a man, a father and grandfather at the age of sixty-six, soon to be sixty-seven. The first funeral was that of Ted Handy, a ninety-three year old former church pastor who endeared himself to countless people by his thoughtfulness, personal contacts, and shepherdly care of people throughout his life. The second memorial service was that of Ted Kennedy, senior senator from Massachusetts who died at the age of 77. Familiar with some of the less attractive moments of Ted Kennedy’s younger life I was encouraged to hear from his sons and close friends that redemption and profoundly positive impact marked his mature years. People close to him, loved him. People who worked with him respected him. As for Ted Handy, his mark on others was indelible and consistent. He was courteous and kind and loving and unselfish and inspirational.
Since these funerals I have thought much about how I want to be remembered and I am concerned that I have done so much that cannot be recovered or rewritten. Perhaps in my mature years I can pave a soft path of love to the hearts of all with whom I have contact and specially those I love the most. I have some work ahead of me before my passport is stamped.
Job 12:12-13 "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his."