NOTHING LIKE A FUNERAL to get you to thinking about dying.
We buried one of my uncles about a week ago. Uncle Henry.
I’ve thought about dying more than most folks do, I’m guessing.
It’s because my dad fought non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for almost 28 years. It was a wrenching battle, which I described a bit in the reader’s theater script: Two deaths, a Good Friday reading.
Sitting in the funeral home, I watched as an undertaker turned the crank that lowered Uncle Henry’s body to the bottom of the casket.
“Goodbye, Uncle Henry,” I thought…if not whispered.
I saw the lid close. I heard the latch click. I helped carry the casket to the hearse.
Henry was my youngest uncle. Most of my older uncles have left the planet.
I know what that means.
I was two generations away when my grandparents were alive. That’s a safe distance, for most folks.
Now I’m barely one generation away. My dad left in 2001. Mom is holding fast and helping raise great-grandkids who live nearby and come to her house after school and during the summer.
I sometimes think about what I’ll be leaving behind.
It’s a bit depressing. What bothers me is that some of the best-known humans during my early lifetime are long-forgotten by younger people today. Some don’t even know John Wayne, an actor who was bigger in his day than any actor I can think of today.
I’m no John Wayne or Stephen King. What chance do folks like us have of being remembered beyond the lifetime of those who know us?
“In future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now….Don’t count on being remembered” (Ecclesiastes 1:11).
Frankly, I believe that.
Since my generation is next in line for the celestial bullet train to God Knows Where, maybe I should stop thinking so much about what I’ll leave behind or where I’m going.
Maybe I should focus more on where I am right now, in this moment.
- As the week begins, I’m working every day on my next book. It’s always tempting to rush. But as I research and write, I keep reminding myself that every feature in this book deserves my full concentration and my best effort.
- I’ve got to figure out how much to pledge for the church building campaign. I think the church’s target date for commitments is this coming Sunday.
- I’ve got to order tire gauges for each car. (See Christian vs. a flat tire.)
- And I’ve got grass to cut, a dog to walk, a son to congratulate for finishing his master’s program, a daughter to check on because she signed up to work 11 days in a row, and a wife who deserves a meal out before she starts her 3-day, 12-hour stretches working as a hospital RN.
I think the sage who wrote Ecclesiastes got it wrong. Presumably King Solomon, he said “Everything is meaningless…completely meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
I don’t think I could use that line on my church pledge card, tempting though it might be.
And I know it wouldn’t resonate with Buddy the Dog when he needs to take a walk to do a little business.
I don’t know how much meaning the daily grind stores up for the long run. But I think I’ll not worry myself with that.
So in these moments of the meantime, I’ve got stuff to do. And though what I do may not make a difference in the scope of the cosmos, it matters to my editor if I’m late writing my book. And it matters to me if Buddy the Dog deposits a steaming pound of business in the corner of my office while I’m writing it.