Friday, November 14, 2014

Wayne writes about final service for a ward member

Matthew 25:40  “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

November 13, 2014  6:30 PM
I am standing at the graveside of one of our ward members.  It is dark.  The wind is blowing.  Light snow flakes are swirling around my face.  It is about 10 degrees below cold!  But I feel warm.  A kind voice breaks the silence of my thoughts.  “Would you like to get inside the pick-up and be warm?”  “No thanks, I’m OK.”  I feel warm.
I think about the events that have just taken place and things that have happened in the last few days since our friend “Al” passed away.
He was an “old” 70 years.  His life had been rough.  He had worked hard most of his life until his body had started giving in to the consequences of his hard life, his choices, his various jobs and just nature.  He worked mostly in large construction.
He suffered from various forms of physical break-downs in his once strong body.  He could only walk a few steps without having to stop and catch his breath.  He carried around his oxygen canister.  Oxygen was his constant companion.  He was told recently that he had cancer.  He was tired.  Tired of being alone in his single-wide home up a long and windy road several miles from town.  Tired of taking all those pills that brought on so many side effects.  Tired of not being able to go out and serve people like he wanted to.  Tired of everyone having to take care of him.  Tired of not being able to come to church.
He knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be called home.  He was determined to endure as best he could.  He still had a smile for you anytime you visited.  He had a dream that he would be able to sell off all his property and go to Florida to be with his ex-wife.  She came to be with him the last couple of months and cared for him.  She was a tremendous help to him.  She was really the only family he had besides his ward family here.
The warmth I am feeling comes from witnessing how this ward family took care of him in the last few days.
The resources were not available to have what we would call a normal burial so the bishop worked out with the funeral home director the details for a very memorable and better than normal burial!
Al’s home teacher has a family graveyard on his property.  He
volunteered to let him be buried there.  The

bishop and the high priests group leader got materials and built a beautiful pine box for him to be buried in.  The bishop’s wife had to help get the completed box out of their basement and into the truck. 
The missionary elders and ward mission leader went out to Al’s place and loaded 3 pick-up loads of garbage that Chris had sorted and took it to the transfer station.
The graveside service took place this evening.  His elder’s quorum president and counselor, a counselor in
the bishopric and the full time elders met at the funeral home to dress Al in his temple clothes.  It was a tender experience.  I was the only one who had had this experience before so it was new to them. They accomplished it in a reverent and respectful manner.
We then loaded the box into the funeral directors SUV and drove the 15 or so miles to the grave site.  It was off the road, past the house, and up a hill to the tree line.  Al's home teacher had used his large backhoe and dug out the grave.  It was a very large hole.  He had laid a couple of 2x10's across the hole to set the casket on. In the swirling wind, snow flakes, and headlights, a few of his friends brought the casket from the vehicle and placed it carefully on the boards.  I tried to hold my umbrella over a dear sister that was told today that she has pneumonia.  She
 refused.  “I’ll be alright” she says.  The bishop conducted a short but touching service.  Then one of Al's ward friends sang a hymn.  then his home teacher gave the dedicatory prayer.
Straps were put under the box and he was lowered carefully to his final resting place.  As they did this, I thought of the friends that lowered the man through the roof who was sick of the palsy.  They were lowering him to the feet of the Savior to be healed.  That is kind of like what Al’s friends were doing.  We                                                         know he is now healed.
This is what friends do.  I am so grateful to have been witness to this experience.  Thankful to be in this place
and feel the love that is shared here.  This scripture comes to mind,  “Willing to share one another’s burden and mourn with those that
I can leave now and go back to our apartment still feeling warm and good, hug my wife and say, “I’m glad we are here.”

No comments:

Post a Comment