There were the typical frustrations life brings to all of us with children.... "Mom, you didn't sign this.... where's my shoe?..... I can't stand these shorts, where are my khaki ones?" The normal fights between siblings, the dirty clothes on the floor that no one bothered to pick up..... me saying "Hurry, hurry.... eat, eat.... brush.... we've got to go!" By the time I got all of them off -- and I must say -- ON TIME.... my nerves were admittedly a little shot. Like I said.... typical family stuff that makes us all a little frazzled.... especially in the mornings.
And the 2 1/2 hour drive to Birmingham didn't do much to calm my nerves either. There was traffic, I was in a time-crunch, there were tiny towns with speed traps and lots of police cars lurking in the bushes. But I couldn't be late..... not to a funeral.... rush, rush, rush..... sometimes that's just the way life feels.... rush, rush, rush. But I arrived, finally found a place to park, albeit 3 blocks over and up 8 levels in a parking deck. I ran in my 4 inch heels through the streets of downtown Birmingham until I saw it.... that beautiful, old Episcopalian Church of the Advent. I opened the massive dark, carved oak doors with those same mixed emotions I'd been feeling all morning.... excited to see my dear, old friend and yet, nervous that I wouldn't find the right words to comfort her. I finally found her in that sea of black and even with the first hug, I could literally feel her pain. Lucy's dad, a man she adored, had died at only 66 years old from lung disease. She was devastated.
Funny how life works..... even in the midst of someone's greatest tragedy, someone else can gain such perspective. And that's exactly what yesterday did for me. Have you ever yelled at your child for spilling Cheez-its all over the floor, yet knowing that on a different day, a better day, you probably would have just simply said, "Be more careful next time"..... and then helped them clean it up? Or have you been a little crabby with your husband for not helping bathe the kids or clean the kitchen, but you know deep down it's not really THAT..... it's the tiny, trivial things that have a way of becoming a mountain of, well..... resentment. But again, on a different day, maybe one where he sent you flowers or took the kids to the park to give you some time to yourself, you think he hung the moon! Perspective. Sometimes we all need a little shift in perspective.
As hard as it must have been for Lucy and her brother, Will, they both stood up at the funeral and spoke about their father. It was beyond moving to all of us in the church, and I must say it had a pretty strong effect on me. Their words were full of praise and admiration for the father they loved so much, full of stories of his innate goodness and his love for Jesus. Stories of how he missed his son's first flag football game to help a family with a flat tire...... and how later when Will was upset that his dad wasn't there, his parents explained the whole story. The family they were helping had been poor, they had 4 tread-worn tires on their car, so Lucy's dad decided to load them up in his car and take them to Sam's to buy them a whole other set of tires. Wow. That's a good man.
Lucy and me before our reunion last year
And that kind of man makes for a very good father. One who is attentive and conscientious with the lessons he teaches his children. He instills character in them, not only in the words he says but by the deeds they see him do. He has integrity and authenticity. And believe me, he was loved. Respected. Greatly appreciated.
It's strange to say, but it was truly the best funeral I've ever attended. I think it did for me exactly what a funeral should do..... it celebrated a man's life, spoke of his accomplishments,
reminded us of Jesus' great sacrifice for all of us, and ultimately, it gave us all something to aspire to. The little things truly don't matter. It's the big stuff that counts.
Lucy and her dad a couple of Christmas' ago
I don't think Lucy's dad would have ever thought that he would still be teaching those lessons even after his death, but he certainly taught me. So I go forward, into this next week with a shift in perspective...... a different view of the "bigger picture." Thank you, Mr. Lassiter, for reminding me of the truly important things in life. You will be dearly missed.