But I also like the way funerals force we as humans to address our finiteness and weaknesses. I appreciated the simplicity and honesty of this funeral. One thing which struck me in listening to those who shared at this funeral was how every family has its struggles, yet can still make a positive impact on the lives of others and the church. What a blessed testimony!
A little over a year ago, my aunt, my father’s only sister, passed away at a young age from a terminal illness. She chose the non-traditional option of donating her body for research and cremation. Sharing at her memorial service sparked my reflection on the stories of brokenness on my father’s side of my family. Yet, despite all of the difficulties, there were still ways his family reached out to those around them and the church. My aunt’s testimony is part of the blessing my father’s family passed on to me.
My Aunt Helen’s aspirations for higher education and her giving heart for many years in the medical field inspired me throughout my life, even through the years when we hardly met. My grandfather often commented how I reminded him of my aunt. When I felt discouraged with my abilities in different areas, he would say that, like my aunt, I was a jack of many trades (so it was ok to be master of none!). She chose one of the noblest professions I can think of and even in her passing showed her dedication to the advancement of learning and research. Because of my aunt, I studied and worked in the health field for a number of years. She was also a teacher of health and medicine and, in the end, I chose the teaching field too.
There are many other ways that I could mention where I feel like my Aunt Helen touched my life, even though I don’t know that she ever knew. Like her father, she was very aware of the time that was ticking away up until the moment she parted from this life. Yet she never stopped giving and inspiring. It makes me sad to think that too often we only come to realize the value of our family heritage, both good and bad, after key members have passed on. At the same time, I am encouraged to know that no matter what our life story entails, even if it feels discouraging, there are blessings to be thankful for. It seems funerals can be a catalyst for reflection, helping us to articulate those blessings.