Today I went to a memorial service. Doug was 57 when he died, he had adult children and several grand babies. He was known as Papa. Doug was 5 years older than me and died of cancer. He lost a lot of blood, too much, and in the end – the chemo that was supposed to stop the cancer from spreading to his brain, bled him to death. He was on a bone marrow list – and he didn't make it.
His wife said the thought that keeps her going when the times are tough is this: if we have a strong spirit, we are given the challenges in our life that God knows we can handle. When we can no longer hold on, God takes us into His open arms – where our spirit can once again run free.
My father's first cousin died this week of a heart attack. Don was in his late 70's and had suffered with his heart for many years. He didn't let it stop him. He and his wife traveled a lot to see their kids. He gave up farming and moved into town – where he planted a huge garden and still helped his cousins farm. He was out on a tractor when he died – and how fitting was that? Don farmed all his life – he truly loved it – and God took him home while he was out in the country. His life wasn't always easy, but it was good. He lived a long and joyful life. Who can ask for more?
My cousin will be remembered by all of us. There are lots of stories to tell and retell. The story telling is what keeps our memories alive. Pictures are wonderful, but they don't always tell the story. We will be looking at the pictures this week when we gather as a family. It will be the stories that will keep the pictures alive.
There were several hundred people there today at Doug's service. At least 30 small children attended. It was informal, out in the country. I pray that those adults today will share with Doug's grandchildren about their beloved papa. Let those people be the story tellers. His wife will I'm sure. Maybe, just maybe, those kids will get to hear over and over how lucky they were to have a papa like theirs. They will be able to look at the pictures and know the story – and say “there's my papa. He was great man!”
Doug and Don may not be here physically, but they are here. As long as we share the stories, spread the love and have our memories, they are here. Love doesn't die you know.