I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, especially The Lord of the Rings. I remember the first time I read it (and most times since), when I finished the trilogy I cried. Oh, not because it was sad, it has a hero’s ending. It is the best of stories. I cried because the story was over.
This week I conducted one of the sweetest memorial services in all my days as a minister. All pastors have stories we can tell (and we often do!) about weddings, funerals, baptisms and such—funny, embarrassing, and sometimes-unbelievable ones! This is one I’ll remember.
It was a double funeral—husband and wife of 60-plus years. Any marriage of that length is noteworthy these days, but theirs is storybook.
Parents of 5 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—their lives had revolved around one another and family. They had been away from our church for a long time, but I had known of their association with Mt. Carmel from the days before I came as pastor. Their family farm was just up the road. Their “lots” had been purchased in the church cemetery and the grave marker/monument was already set.
In their old age each one battled dementia and Alzheimer’s. Both required assisted living until each entered hospice care. Last week, as he neared the end, she was rolled into his room. With children in the room, one praying, and with her hand placed in his, she died.
Two days later, with all 5 children present, they prayed again. Now he goes to be with the Lord and, I believe, to glad reunion with his dearly beloved. Even as family and friends mourned their death we rejoiced that afternoon in the church sanctuary for them both. They are in the nearer presence of Christ.
Here at Mt. Carmel is the place they were married. Now they have come full circle. They lie down together only to rise up in eternity.
On their tombstone, already in place, is engraved “Till Death Do We Part” with two wedding rings interlocked! As the two caskets were lowered simultaneously into the grave, we all cried.
I love stories with good endings. And sometimes I cry.
What about the story you’re living—your life, your marriage, your family—how’s it going? How will it end? Good?