Posted by: Don Linnen | 30 April 2017

A Bookmark in Time

Earlier this month, my mother-in-law died. My children and grandchildren, 200 miles away, were not able to make the small family service to honor her life. I had mixed emotions about their attendance. I really wanted them here with us, but clearly understood the rigors of travel with youngsters for a single-night visit.

On one hand, we all believe family is vitally important. The service was a clear celebration of life and mostly a joyous occasion. It was a missed opportunity for my family to build on relationships with my wife’s family – and to meet unknown relatives.

On the other hand, how do you explain death to non believers and children under seven during four hours of reminiscence around a table filled with TexMex? I deeply regret the missed opportunity of that challenge. Again I’m reminded I’m still not in control.

I’ve also had time to reflect on the deaths of my grandparents, where I was during their funerals, and what I understood at the time.

I can only remember attending one of the funerals of my four grandparents. One grandfather died before I was born. One grandmother’s service was nearly 500 miles away. It was decided that either school was too important to miss or my plane ticket was not in the family budget.

My mom’s mother died when I was 12. I remember her well and missed her dearly, but I can only remember the funeral of my mom’s dad when I was 15. That may speak to the comprehension level of children in general – or maybe just to an immature me who put priorities on school and games – not necessarily in that order.

My single, strongest memory of my grandfather’s funeral was rekindled by words just spoken at my mother-in-law’s funeral … there’s a time for everything.

 ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die;  a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal;  a time to break down, and a time to build up;  a time to weep, and a time to laugh;  a time to mourn, and a time to dance; ‘         Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Just a few months after my grandfather’s funeral I heard those same words spoken at the funeral for President John Kennedy. The first thought that came into my head was that they took those words from my grandfather’s funeral.

Yes. My grandfather was more important to me than the POTUS.

So there you go. From one grandchild to the others. There’s my bookmark in time for when you’re old enough to think about life and death and life.

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