Saturday, February 08, 2014

A Celebration Of Life

Many years ago I was asked to speak at the funeral of a para I had worked with.  I loved this woman, respected her and valued the help she gave me during my first years at Packemin.  (I was teaching special education, something I had very little experience with.). I was nervous but  I never thought about refusing.  This was my first experience  in a Black church and at a Baptist service.  I was the only white person.  I will be eternally grateful to my two friends who stayed at my side and encouraged me not to run for the door.  My speech went over well and was appreciated by the family, friends and parishioners.

I thought about that service today as we gathered to pay our final respects to my sister-in-law, a woman who died too young, only 66 years on this earth.  The Baptist funeral was a celebration of life.  People marched in singing, dressed in white.  It was a magnificent tribute to a woman of virtue.  Today the funeral officiant began by saying we were not brought there by a death, but by a life.  We were there to celebrate my sister-in-law's life.  Everyone who knew my sister-in-law knew she didn't operate like anyone else.  She was funny and crude and oh so smart .  Her tongue was quick and the words it spoke were often not very nice.  But, her words masked her true self and her deeds were not reflected by what she said.  Many people spoke.  We reminisced and we laughed.  No one had ever seen a service quite like the one we had today.  We think she would have really enjoyed it and would have been sitting on the side lines laughing and making fun of everyone,  The officiant said she had never been to a service like this one and I am willing to bet she will never be at one like it again.  She was sorry she never got to meet this funny, smart, caring woman.

My sister-in-law died too young but she died the way she lived, on her own terms.  She got up to get something, collapsed at home, called her daughter and then died.  She touched many lives.  She will be missed.

Her hands were hiding her multiple chins (something she always joked about and did) and her fingers are saying her favorite expression.  I will leave that to your imagination.

No comments: