Earlier this week, I was paid to play the piano for a funeral at a local Lutheran church. I've been to countless funerals throughout my life, and normally they are not events that plant too firmly into my brain. I don't mean to be heartless; what I mean is: I go to a funeral, I pay my respects, I feel sorrow for the passing of a human being, I mourn with those who linger in love, and I move on. Typically, I find nothing too earth-shattering from my normal pattern occurs.
However, this experience was different. The man being honored was named Carl, and lived to be 100 years old! I didn't know the man, nor did I know anyone there in the congregation. I didn't know what to expect. First of all, I was the only non-white party there. Secondly, this church was located in a town called "Elk Plains," as hick a name as I've ever heard. And thirdly, I was not surrounded by a Mormon crowd, like I'm used to. So I half-expected some uncomfortable scenarios to play out. Maybe a story that laughed at the old guy's semi-racial prejudices, or his senile ways; or a lot of ridiculous tears and wailing.
None of that happened. Instead, one elderly woman married to one of his sons addressed the audience with a list of notable merits Carl earned, a few quirky but lovable tidbits of his character, and a rundown of his family history. She was followed by the testimonies of 4 grandsons and 2 great-grandsons. These testimonies really affected me: these were great men, of great stature, taste, and refinement. They shared their favorite memories of growing up with their Grandpa, and how the man helped mold them into the wonderful fathers, brothers, and husbands they are today. And though the woman before them shed no tears while she spoke, these guys wept openly and appropriately for the man they considered their hero.
What impressed me the most was the obvious theme throughout their testimonials: Carl is a family man. He understood the importance of family bonds, and made sure that that was embedded into the members of each generation of family after him. He exemplified righteous living through the morals he kept, and instilled this in all of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He served them in little ways like cooking daily family breakfast, inventing creative embellishments for family stories, and emphasizing the importance of recording and keeping family history. They could not say enough how wonderful a family man Carl is, and how they would never forget that because of his example.
I couldn't help but ponder to myself the kind of life I would want to have lived if I was to look back on it after 100 years. Would I be proud of it? Would my family be proud of it? Will I have posterity to cherish my life? Will I have the opportunity to bless the lives of generations of Mose's to come over the next 70 some-odd years? These are the kinds of questions that continue to haunt me since that day. Sometimes, I can't even see past today, and I'm only 27! Yet going to that funeral taught me that time passes so quickly, and then your time is gone. I so badly want to make my life something worthwhile, something... special. And I'm realizing now that it would mean little to nothing without a family of my own. Just when I was getting used to the idea of being alone the rest of my life...