I love funerals. That may seem a tad strange, but I do. All the ones I've been to at least. I love the celebration they are of a life well-lived. Remembering the moments when a person has touched and inspired you. A reminder to love the people around us.
I got roped into playing harp for my neighbor's mother's funeral today and it was lovely. Weird to think that commemorating a death would be the best way I could spend my morning. But it is, I'm so glad I had the opportunity to be there.
The speakers loved their mother so much and that love shined right through the tears. They were tears of love, tears of missing someone so special. I didn't know the woman, Velma Jennings, but throughout the service and even now I wish I had been able to meet her during her life. They had a more recent picture of her, in black and white, on the front of the program and I was amazed at the bright, happy sparkle evident in her eyes. Even in a cheap, paper print her light was apparent. Her daughter gave a "Life sketch" for Velma and I honestly was moved almost to tears. The story of Velma and her husband, Paul, was so touching and beautiful.
Velma was diagnosed with Parkinson's for the last eight years of her life and not once did Paul ever give up on her. He would sleep on a couch beside her bed, holding her hand or singing to her. All their kids encouraged him to put her in a home before the worry and stress broke him down as well, but he would not. He explained,
"When I asked her father for her hand, I told him I would always, always take care of her. So that's what I'm going to do."
The dedication and pure love etched into that man's face as they spoke of his wife and the life they had together was enough to make my heart swell and my eyes well up. He was so sweet afterwards in thanking me for being there, too. I wanted to hug him for being such an excellent example of all the things good I see in love but I figured a strange 20 year old coming at a fragile old fellow like him wouldn't be the best for his tender heart and I didn't exactly wanna be the cause of another funeral in the family. So I stuck with a smile and a "thank you".
My point, however, is that this morning I woke up a bit on the lazy side of the bed. I didn't want to pack up my big, bulky instrument. I didn't want to clean out my car so it would fit in the back. I didn't want to drive to the church building, get all set up on the stand and plunk out some simple church hymn arrangements. I didn't know the woman. It didn't seem worth my time.
Oh, how wrong I was.
You can never know who you might learn a valuable lesson from. I'd never met this woman or most of her family. I only knew her granddaughter through a mutual music teacher as well as her son and daughter-in-law who lived next door. I wouldn't even say I knew them particularly well. But she taught me a many great thing by just being a wonderful woman who raised an exemplary family.
Complete every action with love.
Spend the time it takes to show someone you care.
I believe I'm a better person simply because I attended this funeral today and felt this woman's spirit. Her precious, special spirit.
Please, don't take the people who pass through your life for granted. There's something to be learned from all of them.