Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Not How Many That Matters...

When I entered the chapel today, walking a few steps behind my mom and dad in the traditional family march of mourning following my aunt's casket, I looked around and was saddened by the small number of mourners present.  My aunt had been retired for a number of years; she had been mostly confined to her home the last few years due to health concerns and family issues.  There were not large numbers of people from a church congregation or from work relationships or from volunteer agencies. Most of the people there had came to lend support for one of the family members. My aunt had lived a small, quiet life the last few years of her life; she was going to have a small quiet burial. It seemed so wrong.

My aunt had a miscarriage - twin girls - when my mom was pregnant with me.  She always said that this was why I looked so much like her. I always argued that I did not resemble her.  I wanted to look like my small, elegant mother.  I refused to say that I shared any traits with this loud woman who laughed all the time and pinched my cheeks.  If you thought that older relatives who pinched little children's cheeks were simply figments of a screenwriter's imagination for television, you were wrong - my aunt, Martha, pinched my cheeks over and over when I was little.  She was beautiful too, of course; her beauty came from her laughter and her heart and those startling blue eyes of hers. Now, of course, I want to share those traits. My aunt loved to cook.  She loved sweets especially and when I was younger I loved for her to make banana split cake.  It makes me smile thinking of it now. The cake was delicious. She cried easily and went to pieces as my mom would say whenever there was a stressful situation. In a family where strong women are valued, this is not a great trait.  I cry easily too, but then I get over it.  I like to think Martha did too. I have wonderful memories of her. I wanted the chapel to be overflowing with others who would testify to her wonderfulness.

There was a song, and then the preacher began to speak.  It was a typical funeral message until he started reading things the grandchildren had told him about their grandmother. How she loved to laugh, how she would do anything for anyone, how she was an amazing cook, how you could not come visit without being fed. My eyes overflowed with tears. To these five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and her two sons who were audibly weeping throughout the service, Martha meant everything.  They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was a great woman, that their lives had been shaped by the bounty of her love. She didn't need an entire chapel full of people.  The family that she cherished was there. The number of mourners doesn't matter; the amount of love that you share on this earth does. Make sure that the people you love know it!  Call them right now for no other reason than to talk to them.  They'll be gone quicker than you think....

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and so true. I never let my family walk out the door without telling them how much I love them because you never know. Thanks for sharing something so touching.