Dr. John Holland
I was in my early twenties and was conducting the funeral of my Grandma Long. Her family was large, and she was the grandma of them all. There was only standing room in the church. They came to honor this extraordinary woman. The patriarch of the family had passed away at the ripe old age of ninety-one years.
All ages were there from the very old to the very young. I could hear the assortments of coughs, cries of babies, and the whispers of the grieving family. I did my best in the service, then we had the prolonged goodbyes of the family.
Then my grandpa Long came and stood by the coffin of his loving wife of over seventy-one years.
He was well into his nineties as he stood on tottering old legs. His body bent with the weight of years. He had on a suit coat and pants which did not match. A tie and a shirt which would be quite nice with the right outfit. Because of his age and loss of weight, the clothes hung on his gaunt bowed frame. He held an old well-worn straw hat in his arthritic hands as he looked down on his beloved. His skin looked grey from grief.
He was an old man filled with grief, the living picture of old age in the grip of desperate loss.
I stood at the head of the casket and watched him. I saw a man burdened by the death of his beloved. I also saw what the human spirit can do in times of great need.
He bowed down and kissed her forehead and then he let his straw hat fall from his fingers as he lifted his hands. Oh, it was a pain of anguish to be present as he began to thank the Heavenly Father, with a voice that was thin and wavering.
He began to pray recalling that ten years ago Grandma lay dying. He said how he had pleaded to God to spare her even if she was weak and he had to care for her. Then he said, Lord, you gave us ten more years.
He thanked God for all the years he had had Grammy at his side. His words still ring in my ears as he moved from her death to the life of faith they had lived together. He thanked the Lord for the day their first child was born. He thanked God for each of their eight children. Thank you for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren they have meant so much to us.
On he went in this living tribute to her faith and the provision of the God they loved and served.
He thanked God for helping them to pay off the mortgage on their little home, and then for the job he had had for so long. He gave thanks for the healing of their second child and for the health and happiness they had enjoyed.
To my amazement, his voice began to strengthen. He stood upright as his legs seemed to straighten. An invisible power seemed to lift his bent arms to a higher level pulling them toward heaven. I looked at his face which began to shine, and its skin took on a healthy glow.
He said, “Father, I want to thank you that I know Grammy is with you now. I know you will take good care of her until I can get there. I am thankful that she is not in pain anymore and that I know she is happy to be with you. Dear Lord, please keep our family in this time of loss and I pray each one will be saved. In Jesus dear name, amen.”
I remember standing close to my elderly grandpa. I saw the power of death destroyed by the faith and the words of praise from his lips.
That night something happened to a member of the family. The next morning, I would learn that the power to destroy death was also the power to give life.
Continued next week on MondayMorning.