Tuesday, November 16, 2010

my favorite reverend

Today we had our favorite reverend officiating. Why is he our favorite? He has to be the nicest guy that anyone has ever met. He is the Chaplin at the local hospital and is there for so many people in their last days. He's sat many times and watched as someone takes their last breath. He tells the story of a woman that upon her last breath, she opened her eyes bright and called out her mother's name in the biggest voice that she could (which was barely more than a whisper) and then pass away.

He does his research for each and every person. Asking questions of the family and diving into history books. Everyone is treated like a good friend. He's the kind of guy that we should strive to be like.

He'll start the service talking about the dates. The date the person was born and the date that they passed on. Then reminds everyone, it's not the dates or the longevity that matters. It's how you spent the time that you had here on this beautiful earth. Starting with the date of birth, he tells everyone how much a loaf of bread cost or a gallon of milk when the person was born. Today's guest of honor was born in 1916. It was the year that Henry Ford gave equal pay to women and men. A whole $5 per day. That year, you could buy a new car for approximately $250. Or a modest house for $850. Income tax had not been enacted yet and what you made was yours to keep. Unless you were a young person working and sending money back home for your parents to raise the other kids.

Then he'll work his way through history. Telling bits of common history mixed with facts about the deceased. Like today's woman who learned to dance in the roaring 1920's and kept on dancing until her legs couldn't do it anymore. Then she just stood there on the dance floor while everyone danced around her. He talks about her family and how she would crochet each grandchild an afghan and how she had told him how disappointed she was that she could not finish the one she had started for the great, great grandchild that was still on the way.

He finishes up with a letter that she may like to write from heaven. Telling everyone that she made it there OK and all her family that had passed on before her was there to greet her. And that she will be waiting patiently for each of them as their time comes. And P.S. God says hi.
He gets me every time with that.

The man does a  lot of funerals and his speech is very similar each time. I love how he always puts those personal touches in there. Always remembering to mention key people attending and quirky little things that each person liked to do when they were alive. He reminds us all that it is our turn to live. It's our turn to make memories and pass on bits of knowledge that we've picked up along the way.

After driving out to the cemetery, he'll remind everyone to look around at the dates on the headstones and remember that it's the dash between the dates that matters most.

Spend your dash wisely, he says.

4 comments:

Hesta Nesta said...

Sounds like a wonderful man...and how true his last comment is. It does make you stop and think about how you spend your life.
Jo xx

Jabacue said...

Is this man for hire? Now if all priests/reverends were this good! Good post Stew.
Jim

sophie...^5 said...

This is so nice to hear...people like this bring such humanity to the process of life and death. Thanks for this Stew!

Jabacue said...

Hey Stew! Thanks for your kind comment on today's post.
Jim