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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lifecycles: The End

     It was so quiet in the church as the ushers led the people to their seats. The organ was playing soft music and no one was talking. That was unusual for our church. Normally, there was a gentle rumble of voices as folks greeted each other and chatted a bit before the service began. But, this was not Sunday so, maybe, things are different when you go to church during the weekday. I didn’t know why exactly we were there as the man directed us to a pew other than the one my mother always chose for us. “Our” pew was the second one on the right. My mother may have thought that we would behave best if we thought the pastor could see us during the service and she may have been right. Although, when we squirmed too much or began to jab each other, it was her “look” that got us to stop. The pastor never said anything and did not come down to shake his finger at us or anything like the teacher would have. In any case, this service was so quiet that even we did not speak.
     Not long after breakfast, my mother called me in from play and told me to put on my patten leather shoes and anklets with the lace on them. Mom hurriedly scrubbed my face and hands, followed by pointing to the “Sunday” clothes that she had laid out for my older sister and me to wear. My younger sister would not be going with us but to a friend’s house because she was too young. Hmmm, I didn’t think anyone was ever too young for church; they have places for the younger kids to go when church happens on a Sunday. Well, I would just wait and see what happens on a weekday.
     Another thing about this time in church: A large, shiny box was in the front of the church and it had a lot of flowers on it. In fact, there were flowers all over the front of the church. People wearing black clothing were sitting in our pew and they looked sad so I guess that is why we didn’t tell the man we wanted to sit there. During the service a lady sang a sad but pretty song and the pastor talked about our next door neighbor a lot. I thought this was funny because we didn’t usually talk about people during church like that. He said a lot of nice things about our neighbor. I could have added even more but no one asked me to speak so I didn’t, of course. I could have told them how Mrs. W was not angry with me when I broke the limb off her Weeping Willow tree but let us plant it in our backyard to make a tree for us, too. I could have told them how our neighbor let us make our tree house in her big backyard tree and seemed to enjoy how happy it made us. I could have told them about her popcorn balls. Every Christmas, Mrs. W made the best popcorn balls in the world, green and red ones. I had never seen popcorn balls like hers before and have never seen them since, as a matter of fact. My older sister could have told them how she let her come and visit and they would have a refreshing drink of some kind together. Even though my sister was just a little girl, Mrs. W told my sister the secret to the popcorn balls and she was the only one who knew it. Mrs. W was the nicest old lady I had ever known. My mother told me that Mrs. W’s life was over now and she would rest from her many kindnesses to folks.
     When the service had finished, the men in Sunday suits stood on each side of the big box and rolled it to the back of the room, just outside the double doors to the sanctuary. Soon after, the usher pointed to our row and we stood and filed out without saying a word. We had to walk by the box but they had lifted the lid. I stopped at the box and looked in. There was Mrs. W already resting from her kindnesses. She was dressed up in a pretty dress, too, like all of us in the church. I figured she would go to Heaven when we all went home because the pastor had said she would enjoy the beauty of Heaven since she just loved her flower garden. Mrs. W was the first person I had ever known who died and this was my first time attending a funeral service. It was a sad time for us; I loved Mrs. W and would miss her, but I was happy for her to get to rest, too. I reckoned she would have fun with Jesus and wondered if He would get to have popcorn balls for His birthday next Christmas now that Mrs. W was there with Him. 

****Lifecycles: The End, Reflections… Coming Tomorrow

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