When the phone call came Sunday evening, that it was time for me to keep my word and officiate Aunt Nina's service, I found myself wondering how I would be able to do that without tears, as that was also specified in her wishes . . . I knew I couldn't do it, of my own strength. As the plans for the week unfolded, more details emerged and truth be told, I just simply knew I couldn't meet all of her wishes . . . Not that she was such a demanding woman, not at all; but she wanted laughter in her service, no crying. That was a tall order for this squaw. To be honest, I found myself weeping frequently that Monday, but at the same time I would speak Scripture aloud over my thoughts and into my spirit.
Tuesday, as I was preparing to head up the road, the phone began to ring. My cousin's wife said, "NO pressure, but there will be a family viewing at 2 this afternoon." I was a little over 3 hours away and it wasn't quite 11 . . . No pressure . . . As I was finishing my packing, the phone rang again. This time it was the funeral director and he had not received my email with the link containing a song for the service. I'd already packed my laptop and wifi, so . . . I asked him to give me 10 or 15 minutes and I'd resend it. He was thinking clearly and said, "I know you have a lot on your mind. I'll send you an email, just send the link in a reply." That truly did make it simpler, but I still had to unpack it and fire it all back up. Twenty minutes later, we were on the phone confirming that he'd received it and I was back to packing. If my cousin's wife had not called, I might have missed the funeral director's call.
A dear brother had given me the best route to the nearest large town, which is where the funeral home was, so that was really going to work out well, except I managed to get lost right on the edge of that town, so, I circled twice, headed north and then realized my destination was in my rear view mirror. With that realization, also came to mind the very clear fact, I had no phone numbers with me, at least not written. I don't carry a cell phone, so as I turned around, once again, I prayed. Miraculously, I ended up on the road I needed, but I had no idea of that fact until I stopped at a convenience store. As Abba saw fit, it was quitting time and several men were in line, so I simply stood in the middle of the store and asked if anyone could direct me to the funeral home. Far beyond a coincidence, I was less than 2 miles from the funeral home. I'd lost a lot of time, but I was on the last stretch of the journey.
My cousin and his wife had been waiting and I apologized as we hugged, then the test of all tests. I managed to recite both of their phone numbers from memory . . . We headed home, with plans that the entire tribe would gather later that evening to share memories and give me ideas for the service. Friends and relatives began arriving around 6:30 and as we spoke and shared, we all knew we had barely scratched the surface of memories of that sweet woman, when her daughter and son-in-law both piped up. "We need to head home and I think you've got enough. She said keep it short and sweet." All these great anecdotes and memories and it was time to consolidate 2 hours of their memories plus what I'd already jotted down, into 20 minutes to include the songs and keep it at half an hour. Again, NO pressure, and again, Philippians 4:13.
That night didn't quite go as planned. At 1 am I found myself just getting into the guest room, trying to get settled, but unable to get comfortable. I'm not used to sleeping on a bed and after a couple of hours of tossing and turning, found my way to the couch. By this time, I knew I needed to "sleep fast." I just melted into the couch and slept until about 6 am. With a cup of coffee and some index cards, I planned the service, then wrote the order down for the funeral director, took a deep breath, and again spoke Philippians 4:13.
Making sure of the details with the funeral director went smoothly, but when stepping out of his office into the chapel, my confidence was shaken just a bit. There appeared to be an ocean of strong masculine men, of course there were women, too, but all those strong men were looking a bit misty eyed. Then I moved on toward the family section. A group of stoic tribal folk, all clearly with tears in their eyes . . . This time my prayer was silent, but again, I repeated to myself, Philippians 4:13.
My prayer was answered. Some of the memories I relayed actually brought some laughter, the service length was precisely thirty minutes, short and sweet. The words at the graveside were brief, and although my voice cracked once at the end, when I mentioned how much I'd miss hearing her say, "I love you," there were no tears until the family dinner and gathering had ended. All of her wishes were honored and our Heavenly Father gave me the strength to do one of the most difficult things I've ever been asked to do.
I can do all things through Messiah which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13