It is funny being around people who you have known your whole life, people that have known me my whole life. I attended my aunts memorial service yesterday and saw uncles, aunts and cousins that sadly I hadn’t seen since the last family funeral I attended. These are people who have seen me at my worst and my best. People that have changed my diaper, remember me as an obnoxious eight year old and an even more obnoxious fourteen year old. People that took me fishing, and to baseball games. People that helped me work on my car and gave me my first beer.
A flood of memories washed over me yesterday evening, memories that were good and comforting. Some of these memories included people who I lost many, many years ago when I saw the resemblance of these lost souls in the wrinkled faces of their children.
On my father’s side I have a big family, five uncles, five aunts, and eleven cousins. Family gatherings at my grandparents farm were loud events fueled by fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, lima beans and coconut cake, my grandmothers specialty. Footballs were tossed, baseballs were thrown and cow shit stuck to the bottom of our Chuck Taylor All-Stars which rode in the trunk on the way home. These weren’t annual events in my family but monthly, slow Sunday afternoons sitting on the front porch in the country.
Seasons have passed and I saw those years etched on the faces and hair lines of the people who know me best last night. We buried one yesterday as we have buried others before her. There are more to come, many more to come, including myself. But that is how it works, that is how it works for all of us.
Maybe it is more comforting for you to think about some eternal reward, Jesus did this or that for you. I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me. But I believe I have already experienced a piece of heaven eating my grandmothers soggy coconut cake and trashing a brand new pair of Chucks running through a fresh cow pie. Yes, it was a long time ago but the memories of heaven still live in my head and in my heart. Memories that once seemed so far away but were in fact just a moment ago.