Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Funeral - Day 18

Some people might think it's morbid to think about your own funeral...but it's not.  It's actually smart.  One of the 7 habits of highly effective people that Stephen Covey talks about is to "Begin with the End in Mind."  I want to be highly effective.  What's more the end than your own funeral?


I remember being at my Great-Grandma's funeral not too long after I became a Mom.  Her name was Minnie Merrow and she lived a long life.  She had outlived just about all of her contemporaries.  Most of the people at her funeral were family....children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.  It was a big room and it was full.  There were a lot of people there who I didn't even know but each were connected to my great-grandma.

I only have a few memories of my grandma Minnie.....she always kept chocolate chip cookies in her chest freezer that she would let us eat all icy cold.  But you had to hurry picking one out, you might not get one if you dawdled.  She also had a grape arbor that produced sour grapes that would pop in your mouth....but picking grapes was another time to not mess around at Great-Grandma's house.  My Great-Grandma had not had an easy life.  She had 8 children in a time when life was physically hard labor.  She lost a son to a tragic accident.  She worked hard her whole life...and based on the pictures I've seen and stories I've heard, she struggled to be happy.  Yet her life had a profound positive impact on my life.

She raised a daughter who raised a daughter who raised me.  Through that chain of women rocking babies and making their own decisions about how to love Jesus and chase joy, came my life.  My Great-Grandma and my Grandma struggled to figure joy and sweetness into life.  My mom did the hard work to became a chain-breaker and gave me the gift of starting my own journey unencumbered.

I thought a lot about Grandma Minnie's life as I looked around the room that day at all the other people who were connected to her.  I wondered at the links in our different chains that all began with her.  Minnie made choices about how to live and who to love.  Those choices either made it easier or harder for the next generation to make their own healthy choices.  Whatever her struggles had been, she chose to hand down the links of serving Jesus and being committed to her family.  The things my Grandma passed on to my Mom weren't all rainbows and fairies either....Grandma struggled in many of the same ways as her Mom.  She made choices and tried to make adjustments to her own story.  My mom cried, "Enough!" and determined that every last ounce of her energy would be spent on fighting the patterns of depression and  sharpness that had been handed down.  Yet, even within that broken pattern, the chain of loving Jesus and holding tightly to family had been preserved.  Grandma Minnie got a few, bedrock things, right.

I'm making plans now for the day of my own funeral.  I want you all to sing songs that talk about what an awesome God I served and make your heart swell with gratitude to Him.  I hope you'll give more money to God's work than to the florist in honor of me.  If it doesn't happen till I'm good and old you'll probably all be smiling a lot...talking about how great it is that I finally got to go to heaven just like I'd been wanting.  If it happens sooner than that, there might be a few more tears as you struggle through trusting God's plan.

But either way, I hope you laugh a lot when you talk about me.  I hope there are plenty of stories that you can easily remember that push a smile through the tears.  Let's be honest....I hope my sense of style is mentioned in a positive light and someone remembers a few of my great hair days.  I've gotta admit that there have been times  when I'm posing for pictures and I hope it'll be a good one for the funeral reel.  I have my shallow moments.  Mostly, though, I hope you are able to honestly say that you remember a lot of the really big things, that by God's grace, I got right.

I hope my husband remembers being loved fiercely and bravely.  I hope he feels like I never had eyes for anyone or anything but him and that I would follow him to the ends of the earth on any adventure God sent our way.  I hope he feels like we lived life together and I smiled a lot.  I hope he thinks I was smart and strong.

 I hope my children remember a Mom who was incredibly in love with them and irrationally optimistic about them.  I hope they remember lots of time that they had my ears and my eyes.  I also hope they felt challenged and pushed by me to be reckless about their trust in Jesus.  I hope they saw me step out onto the water to follow Jesus enough to know that it can be done....and be thirsty to try it themselves.  I hope they feel deep in their bones that being their Mom was one the of the best things I had ever done.

I hope my parents are able to talk about a daughter who was a pleasure....that my life felt buoyant to them rather than something that dragged them down.  I hope they can sense how strong the wings were that they were able grow into me.  I hope they're confident that I really, really liked being their daughter.  And I hope my sis can truthfully say I was her best friend.  I hope she can laugh at the cat-fights of childhood knowing that what we grew into as adults was pretty awesome.  I hope she feels like her and I were more on the same page about the big important stuff in life than any other friend she's got.

I hope I have friends who can say we went deep, really deep.  I hope they say that I was more than fluff and being my friend was both challenging and comforting at the same time.  I hope there are a  bunch of women who can talk all night about inside jokes and tearful moments that they shared with me.  And I hope they all can sit around with some great coffee in their mugs while they're talking.

And I also hope that there are a lot of people at my funeral who didn't really know me well, but came because they knew about me.  I hope that they saw my life and were able to connect the dots and know the really important things about me....that I love Jesus and I love people.  I hope those things are obvious about me.

After those things are spoken, and God's Word is preached, my plan for you all is to finish up your time together singing a rocking version of "Soon and Very Soon We are Going to See the King"   to remind yourself about what, and who, this is all about.

I'm thinking about that day, thinking about all the people who will be holding a chain that started from one of my links, like I'm holding my Grandma Minnie's....and I'm thinking about what I want to leave them.  Because whatever I'm leaving them, I'm leaving today...and tomorrow....and the next day.
I'm writing my eulogy into the lives of people. 

I'm giving either cause for laughter or awkward silence in my ordinary moments.

I'm heading to sleep now friends.....looks like I've got a lot of work to do in the morning!  Got a funeral to get ready for....and so do you!





10 comments:

  1. Visiting from the 31 Dayers FB page. I love this. Thinking about the end has a profound influence on how we travel there.

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    1. Thanks for reading today Barbara! It's a good way to live, isn't it?

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  2. Ah.....doesn't it make you wonder. Amazing how the links connect, one to another and another. Connecting to those we know, and don't know but still impact our lives and we impact them. An amazing and complicated tapestry of life made beautiful by the grace of God and our love for him. Thank you for embracing the celebration that is life. I wanted to post this by my wordpress link but it didn't work so I am anonymous today/

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    1. Thanks for reading and for affirming what I'm feeling. It feels weighty and freeing at the same time to approach life like this!

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  3. This is AWEsome. Truly. I love how you've looked forward and visualized your worth in all the corners of your life. Funeral planning sounds morbid at first glance, but it's truly a celebration of the joy we have stored up for us in heaven.

    I actually have a "Funeral" file, documenting my wishes for what I hope to be a festive farewell and a celebration of faith. It's notes and scraps of hymns, verses, and a request for internment before the service and hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies afterward. I hope it will be a gift for my loved ones when the time comes.

    Now I'm going to borrow a page from your blog and think more eulogistically, not so much to provide a script for that day, but to provide a framework for these days I'm living now.

    Thanks so much for this, Lori!

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    1. I love the warm cookies idea!! I'm going to have to start an actual file like you. All of my ideas are written on scraps of church bulletins stuck into my Bible!

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  4. I'm writing my eulogy into the lives of people. I love this! Although I have not had the courage to do it yet, I also think about writing about my funeral and what I would like and want people to remember.

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    1. Even just writing it out for yourself is a sacred thing....a good way to set goals and explore your heart. It sure was that for me. Thanks for reading Jackie!

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  5. "My Great-Grandma and my Grandma struggled to figure joy and sweetness into life. My mom did the hard work to became a chain-breaker and gave me the gift of starting my own journey unencumbered." This is so encouraging to me! I feel the desperation your mom felt to make a change for the generations that will come after me. It's tough, so tough but I want it so badly, and my kids need it. By the grace of God I hope my kids can enjoy the benefits as they grow from a momma who was able to cooperate with God to loose the shackles of generations gone before. If you ever have the time I would love to hear more of how you think your mom was able to accomplish the change!

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    1. Thanks for reading Jennifer! The older I get the more I realize what a huge gift my mom gave me. She's never found a magic cure but she's never stopped fighting....and that gave me what I needed. I would love to talk with you more. Are you one of my face-to-face friends or do we need to start emailing?? Maybe I need to have my Mom write a guest post...;)

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I'd love to hear what you think!