A few lessons learned from today’s funeral

I wanted to write this up while it was still fresh on my mind, because I learned some powerful lessons today.

Today was my uncle Richard’s funeral. He fought a good fight, but this past week, Heavenly Father called him home.

Few things serve as poignant of a lesson as funerals.  I’ve found most funerals to be quite inspirational. I even have this belief that God makes lets people attend their own funeral, in spirit, so they get to see what an impact they have had on the lives of others.

The program today was awesome. It consisted of my uncle Don giving a life summary, then all 9 of Richard’s children giving tribute to their father. Now normally, I’d think, “Wow… 9 people? That would make for a really long meeting!”  especially after driving for an hour and a half to get their. And believe me, I HATE long meetings. But this was outstanding.

Each child spoke for 5-10 minutes, sharing stories, lessons, and attributes about their father. They each did a magnificent job, articulately mixing the right dosage of humor, lessons learned, and favorite memories. They were openly emotional, and their love and admiration each of them felt for their dad was so strong, it was in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying.” By that I mean, their love for him was so evident, their admiration so complete, it was almost louder than the words they spoke.

I enjoyed every minute of every story. I kept thinking, “This truly is a celebration of a life well lived.”

So in a way his life inspired me to “up my game” so to speak, with my own family, relationships, and different responsibilities.

Not to be morbid, but I couldn’t help thinking forward to my own funeral. I kept asking myself: “what do I hope people say about me? Am I doing what I need to do in order to have those around me celebrate my life? Am I kind to others? Am I spiritual? Am I preparing myself, growing, increasing in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” like the Savior did?”

I think maybe I am in some areas… but in others, I definitely coast. In fact, it was kind of a smack in the face that a good life and good relationships are built over a long time…and I need to make the most of this finite time we are given.

The other point I wanted to remember from today has a little background story: Because my wife and I own a dessert business, in lieu of flowers, we sent desserts to Richard’s family a few times over the past few weeks. We hoped to at the very least brighten just a  few minutes of their day, in what must have been a hard, and exhausting time.

Well, at the luncheon today, about 10 people individually approached us and thanked us enthusiastically for the desserts.  I was so astounded at how gracious they were, I was speechless–I think I blurted out something like, “Oh, no you are welcome– it was the least we could do” or something less coherent–just because I was caught off guard. Not that I expected otherwise, but you don’t picture a funeral being the time where the surviving family seeks out people to thank  individually. I know for a FACT we weren’t the only ones to give food, and I also would wager good money we weren’t the only one they individually thanked. One of my cousins even gave us a hand-written thank you card.

I couldn’t help thinking, “You just went through one of the most devastating experiences of your life, and you still remembered to thank us for giving you treats?!”   I was so impressed with their graciousness, I made several mental notes–to make more of an effort to remember and express gratitude for things people do for me, ESPECIALLY when I go through hard times.  I noticed when they were thanking us, they had beaming smiles on their faces–which only reminded me that gratitude in general helps everyone feel better.

Uncle Richard lived a really good life. He left behind a loving wife, 9 kids, a whole ton of grandchildren and great grandchildren, and a legacy of kindness and respect. I have no doubt he will be happily welcomed into the Savior’s arms, who will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Farewell Uncle Richard. I’ll be good, and I thank you for your testimony.

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