Ampersand

Out of the Mouths of Babes Comes ...

Jun 28, 2017

Recently my father passed away. Since he was 102 it was obviously expected, but still, the finality of it all is felt strongly by his family. 

He was ready to go, stating, “I have outlived all my friends.” And he told us he was bored with just occupying space. Although bodily afflicted with poor vision and poor hearing, his brain was functioning on all circuits. His memory was better than mine and he was usually quite alert. 

When he ultimately passed away, we had the normal visitation, a celebration of life ceremony and the interment. It was sad and difficult, but went well and relieved his five children of a great deal of anxiety.

Yet, out of it all came some humor. My young grandson, Drew, on being informed of his great-grandfather’s death, said, “I guess I have to get a tux.” 

His mother, Kim, said, “You don’t need a tux. A suit or sport jacket will do.” 

Drew replied, “What’s the difference between a tux and a suit?” This is the way we learn when we’re young.

Kim bought Drew a new dress shirt and some shoes. Trying out the shoes in the family kitchen, Drew said, “Mom, these a little bit big for me. I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to dance … Oh, that’s what you do at a wedding.” 

We all expected to have a closed casket, but my dad looked so good we decided to leave it open until some of the younger kids were due to arrive at the funeral home. Later, Drew told his mom he thought it was me in the casket. I guess I probably should not be flattered to be mistaken for a 102-year-old man, although I do look a lot like my father when he was younger. 

Kim said, “Drew, were you upset when you thought it was Pop in the casket?” 

Drew said, “No, I thought he was just fooling around and would sit up and say, ‘Just kidding!’”

Perhaps we all secretly wish that a loved one whom we know is dead will suddenly sit up and say, “Just kidding!” Obviously this is not a realistic expectation. 

So maybe we can learn from this not to take ourselves too seriously. Death is as natural a human process as childbirth. Surely it is not as happy an occasion, but it is still part of our existence. 

Out of the mouths of babes comes a special wisdom. Even in the worst of situations there is a time to laugh. We have to try to put aside the guilt feelings that we can develop when we are happy under terrible circumstances. There is room for moments of happiness even in the worst of times. 

 

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