The dimly-lit room was full, standing-room only. I was numb to the anger I would feel several minutes later, when we said our goodbyes to the vicar. I tried to suppress it by telling some joke, but the church had brought her in to conduct this service; why hadn’t she done a better job? “We commend to You Your servant …” It was just as if she had changed the name on a prewritten script. For all I knew, the silence could be full of unanswered questions: “But he wasn’t His servant. How does God feel about someone who wants the benefits of believing in Him, but hasn’t served Him all their life?” I wanted her to acknowledge these and offer some hope – to mention the thief on the cross – the one who came to Jesus in his last moments and Jesus comforted him with the words, ‘Today you will be with Me in paradise’, but there was no mention of him. I don’t recall any comfort being given, or any passage from the Bible for us to think over afterwards.
As the service drew to a close, we all listened. The song was familiar, my sadness fresh. It seemed wrong somehow that the only thing which moved me, which captured for me the life of this man we were supposedly remembering, was a popular song. The words seemed so appropriate to one of his daughters especially.
“Every generation blames the one before,
“And all of their frustrations come beating on your door” reminds me of her.
“I wasn’t there that morning, when my father passed away;
“I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say.” Probably more than one person in the room could have gone along with that.
“I think I caught his spirit, later that same year;
“I’m sure I heard his echo in my baby’s new-born tears.” Just days after his death he became a great granddad, and within the year he’d be a granddad again. I don’t know whether his granddaughter has any of his features, but he’s not forgotten, and today always brings thoughts of a very special uncle.