It was a beautiful day and everyone who knew Uncle Mario had arrived. All of his family had driven through the night from all parts of the country to be with him for his birthday. I came down to look around. As I sat down, many people were saying how wonderful this 96-year-old man lying so still looked for his age. There was Mario’s son Ed, his wife, and his daughter named Sue. Excited, Sue asked, “Mom, where is the cake?” Mom replied. “Do not yell. We do not want to wake him up.” She had told Sue that Uncle Mario was just sleeping. They had arrived to celebrate Uncle Mario’s birthday one day too late.
Mario’s son Peter and his wife and two sons had just arrived from Texas. He said, “Boy, I haven’t seen you all for about ten years. How times flies by!” They all agreed as they greeted each other. They hadn’t been together since they buried their mom, Irene. “Do you still remember what he did?” Ed asked his wife, nodding towards Uncle Mario. “Yes, I do,” she answered. “He buried mom in that mink coat and expensive ring. He could have sold that ring and made some money or given it to one of his children.” She sighed. “Well, you know how dad was,” she finished with a smirk.
I observed everyone there and I listened to them. Peter said in recollection, “How many times he called me and wanted me to stop what I was doing on the 4th of July to have a barbecue with him! He knew that was my day to hang with the guys from work. He would say, ‘Okay son, I understand. I’ll just make myself something to eat and take what’s left over to the church for the homeless.’ I always asked him why. I would tell him to put the leftovers in the fridge and save it so he wouldn’t have to cook over the next few days. That food cost a lot of money! He would say, ‘No. I have plenty. They need it.’ In fact, I called him just last week and asked him about mom’s old car. I asked him if he still had it. He said, ‘No, I don’t. I gave it away to a lady at the church who has two kids and her husband passed away. She is having a rough time.’ I told him he should have given it to my kids so they could have a car to learn how to drive with. I’m sure not going to let them use my brand new car!”
Little sue came running back and said, “Mom, when are we going to sing Happy Birthday?” As I walked up towards Mario’s coffin, the pastor walked into the room. He said, “I am so glad that all of you who loved Uncle Mario are here. It is a reunion of his family and friends as we celebrate his passing on to be with his Maker and reunion with his beloved wife, Irene. I understand you all have traveled a long way in order to celebrate his birthday with him, but he passed away last night, on his 96th birthday. I spoke with him just last week. He told me how much he loved his family…his sons Ed and Peter, his daughter-in-laws and grandchildren, all of his friends from the church where he belonged. He told me he had made plans to share all of his wealth with his family should something happen to him. But he told me his house was to be sold and the money was to be given to the church, to be used for the less fortunate.”
As the pastor spoke, I turned away from the coffin with tears in my eyes. Little did they know that I, the Holy Spirit was even here. I had been here at Mario’s passing, to usher him into glory with his Savior. And I was here now, in case any of his loved ones should be seeking me in their grief. How do they feel now about their father, their grandfather, their friend? It seems that many get all fancied-up for weddings and funerals and the like. These are the times that families and friends gather. They laugh and enjoy reminiscing about the past.
Will there will be a gathering of family and friends when your final day is here? What will others say about you? How will they remember you? I will be there. I am always there. I was there when Mario breathed his last, there to take his hand and escort him home. To what eternity will you be ushered into and who will be your escort?
LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. LOVE EACH OTHER TODAY. WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING.
PRAISE GOD, OUR SAVIOR AND OUR FRIEND…SAVING, HELPING LOVING.