Charity: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
It seems as though I helped this particular family about two years ago, but in reality, it was only nine months. I received a call during a severe thunderstorm that a friend had died. My husband and I jumped into our older hearse because the weather was questionable. We had concerns about trees uprooting in the strong winds and thought our newer hearse should stay in the garage for safekeeping. As we turned eastward out of our driveway, we could see the stop sign twisting back and forth, just as it does in the movies when a twister is touching down. As we turned onto the highway going out of town, we saw flashing lights and noticed there was a large pine tree stretching clear across the road, blocking our way.
In true military fashion, my husband refused to let a 60 foot tree across the highway stop his mission, so we drove straight over the top of it and waved hello to the police officers as they shook their heads in disbelief. As we continued down the highway, I could see bits of trees flying in front of me, and it reminded me of the many “Storm Chaser” episodes I have watched with my children. Before we reached our destination, we passed over three very old and very large trees across the highway, and had to avoid downed power lines as well.
We arrived in safety, even though we were a little bit shaky from the experience. The storm was a strong one, and it was truly frightening. We pulled under the decedent's balcony to try to shield the back end of the hearse from the storm.
We went upstairs into the largest apartment I had ever seen, filled with the biggest and friendliest family I have ever met. They were all there, sisters, aunts, uncles, children, parents and neighbors. I have written other articles about this family because they are amazingly special. I think of all of the people I have met over the years, the parents of this family are the most charitable. They are the type of people you think about and aspire to emulate, and that transcends down through their posterity.
The decedent's sisters greeted me one by one, giving me hugs and encouragement. The men of the family helped my husband move the decedent from her bed onto our gurney, and then they helped carry her down to the ground floor where our hearse awaited.
As the storm was finally passing over, a few of her other sisters arrived, and I was glad to see them. We decided to meet the following morning to finalize the details of her service.
In the days and events that followed the death of this special woman, I was reminded of the charity this family possesses. Throughout my experiences with them, I have never witnessed a harsh word or frowny face pass between any of them. This tolerance is an amazing feat because this family so large and when someone has died, it becomes particularly difficult to be gracious around so many emotionally charged personalities and opinions.
I asked them how they did it. How did they keep so many people thrown together under the stress of death from having moments of malice and discontent? They shared their secret with me. It was so simple; I do not know why other families have not thought of it as well. Their secret is so valuable that I asked if I could share it, and they said yes.
They told me that their family was no different from any other. They have little squabbles and disagreements amongst themselves. They are unique however, in that, there is one thing they do that I have never seen before, they designate a “Watcher” among themselves.
When tragedy first strikes, they all agree to treat each other with tolerance, to judge in a favorable attitude the actions of one another, and to practice impartial love in each situation that might call for such virtue. This agreement is remarkable.
Secondly, if emotions surface at any event, the “Watcher” comes over and escorts anyone he deems to be near compromising these terms of cooperation off the property, no questions asked. Once they collect themselves, they are free to return, but they have to be able to rededicate themselves to their familial agreement. By the way, this is a blended family, so one expects temper flares at large gatherings.
My friend’s service was beautiful and she was laid to rest with peace and tranquility beside other family members that we have buried in the past. Her services were undisturbed by any poor behavior and were filled with cooperation and love from among her family members. I was overcome with love and respect for them, and they renewed my faith in charity.
If you are called upon to attend services, remember this family and their charity toward each other. If you have ill feelings for someone at a funeral service, hold them back and understand that this is not the proper time or place to express them. Exercise charity and your heart and well-being will grow.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.