Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Special Funeral

We're past the middle of September now, with sure signs of autumn and harvest all around. Today, even the orange ladybugs (Asian beetles) arrived! How nice! Hoards of them leave newly-harvested soybean fields, and fill the air and invade houses. Most of the time, they don't bite or sting, except on very warm days, like today.....then they do. They get into every little cranny possible, between window sashes, in door frames, in woodwork. When smashed, they smell bad, and once I accidently chewed on one while eating popcorn, and believe me, they taste as bad as they smell!

This morning, on my walk, I missed a perfect photo opportunity.......I was walking by the edge of a cornfield from which a huge flock of blackbirds suddenly arose and flew en masse up to the adjacent power lines. They hovered for a few seconds over the cornfield, with the luminous morning sky in the background......that would have made a great photo, if only I had had my camera with me. Darn. In the ditch along our gravel road, there are lovely purple asters blooming, with Indian grass waving above them. Other various foliage are turning gold and red. Not many leaves have changed color on the trees, though, yet.

This afternoon I attended a funeral at a nearby country church. The deceased was the 37-year-old brother of an old school friend of mine. Sam had been born with special needs, and his family had lovingly cared for him all these years. His father had died suddenly when Sam was only three, and his mother was left to care for him and run their farm. She was incredibly devoted to Sam. Anyway, the funeral was unique and special, as I knew it would be. First of all, before the service started, as we were awaiting the entrance of the family, part of a light fixture suddenly fell from high in the ceiling, fortunately falling onto an empty pew. As if someone up there wanted to get our attention!

The pastor gave a nice eulogy and then there was a chance for anyone in the audience to stand up and share remembrances of Sam. There were a few that did, mostly neighboring farmers with memories of how Sam enjoyed riding along in the combine at harvest time, or how he would peek out from behind trees to watch them working in the fields near his home.

Sam never learned to speak, except that he could say the word "no". He could write some words, too. The only TV show he seemed to like was "M.A.S.H.". He loved to watch trains, and was delighted whenever he and his mother had to sit and wait for a train to go by at a railroad crossing. He enjoyed musical toys and had many of them, and loved to annoy his mother by starting up all the toys at once to make lots of noise. When company came over, he would play his musical toys for the visitors.

The church building we were in is only six years old, because seven years ago a tornado ripped through the neighborhood, destroying the church and several farmsteads, including Sam's. Sam's mother had gone to get groceries that afternoon, so Sam was home alone when the tornado came through. His brother and sister-in-law, from their farm across the section, could see the tornado approaching. They phoned Sam and told him to go to the basement, but he was stubborn, and would not go. Later, when Sam's brother arrived, he found the house flattened and no sign of Sam. He started searching and eventually found Sam covered in dirt and stuck down in the hole of an uprooted tree! He had a badly broken leg, but otherwise was OK. It was an amazing story which made the local news. Sam's sister, my old friend, made a wonderful scrapbook, which we looked at before the funeral, showing the tornado story, and the subsequent building of a new house for Sam and his mother.

This was the first funeral I've attended where the casket was left open at the front of the church during the service. Maybe it was because of what the family planned to do at the end of the service. They took Sam's favorite musical toy up there, and wound it up and let it play. It was a thanksgiving turkey stuffed toy, but I couldn't tell what the song was. When the toy was done playing, they put it in the casket by Sam and the funeral directors shut the lid. All of a sudden we could hear the toy start to play again......quite a moment......I literally was laughing and crying at the same time, as were many others in the crowd!

The pastor gave a meaningful little message about Sam's life. He said that sometimes in God's rose garden there are rosebuds which never manage to mature beyond the bud stage, for some unknown reason. They are beautiful in their own way, however, as Sam was to his family and to all who were acquainted with him. The pastor also said that the family told him that Sam had been stacking boxes by the door of his home lately, as if getting ready to go somewhere. And go somewhere he Heaven!!

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