Tag Archives: Nephew

Time to Wake Up

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)

One of my all-time favorite memories took place during the visitation of my Grandma Golly’s funeral. It had been a long evening of meeting family and friends at the funeral home. Grandma’s lifeless body lay in the open casket in the large room. The crowd had thinned out some, but there was still the din of hushed conversation throughout the room.

Suddenly I caught a blur out of the corner of my eye as my four-year-old nephew, Solomon, came tearing around the perimeter of the room. He came to an abrupt stop right in front of the casket. In a sweeping gesture he looked at the toy watch on his wrist.

Okay, everybody!” Solomon shouted at the top of his lungs, “It’s time for grandma to WAKE UP!”

My nephew Solomon

Many years ago I spent five years employed in pastoral ministry. I happened to serve in a rural area of Iowa where the demographic tilted towards the older side of the spectrum. For this reason, I officiated a lot of funerals. I got to know the local funeral directors so well that they began calling me whenever they had a family of the deceased with no ties to a local church. This meant that I officiated even more funerals. (My experiences with the mixture of rural Iowa, family relationships, and death became the inspiration for my play Ham Buns and Potato Salad.)

Officiating so many funerals allowed me to witness a broad range of families in their grieving. I saw families in total chaos, families in conflict, and families whose genuine love and affection for their deceased loved one and one another were obvious. I watched family members conniving for their share of the estate, family members actively avoiding one another, as well as family members enjoying the opportunity to be reunited with loved ones after long years apart. It is fascinating to observe.

Perhaps its because of my experience with so many funerals that death doesn’t phase me like I observe it does for many others. Yes, the emotions and stages of grief associated with the loss of a loved one are common to all. Even Jesus cried at the tomb of Lazarus before He called him back to life. Nevertheless, if I truly believe what I profess to believe, then it should ultimately impact the way I think and feel about death. Jesus’ story is essentially about life through death. Death is a part of the eternal equation Jesus presented. As a follower of Jesus I believe I’m called to embrace death as a passage to Life rather than mourn it as some kind of dead end.

Jesus said… I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (NIV) [emphasis added]

Yes, I do. Which is another reason why I have always loved young Solomon for his innocent outburst before Grandma Golly’s casket. Thanks for the laugh, little man. My faith in Jesus tells me that Grandma is more awake than you or I can possibly imagine. The person who needs to be continually reminded to “wake up” to that fact is me.

Come on, Grandma!

On Remember When Wednesdays, I look back at a post from the past and publish it again for newer readers. Having posted about the topic of grief and loss this morning, I thought it apropos to share this memory which I published back in January of 2008 (and which still makes me laugh whenever I think of it)…

He said these things, and then announced, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.” John 11:11 (TM)

When my Grandma Golly died, the girls were only 3 or 4 years old. Our nephews, Sam and Sol, were the same ages. The entire family had been at the funeral home for the long hours of visitation. There had been a steady stream of visitors, friends and family throughout the evening to share in our grief.

Like most toddlers, the reason for the occasion was lost on the girls and their male cousins who took the opportunity to run around the funeral home playing together. Late that evening, all was quiet in the visitation room as most everyone but family and a few dear friends had departed.

My nephew Solomon, ripping around the room in a playful fury, stopped short right in front of the casket. He looked at the lifeless body of his great grandmother lying before him. He looked at his wrist (where there was no watch), and then shouted at the top of his lungs for all to hear…

“IT’S TIME FOR GRANDMA TO WAKE UP!”

…If you only have faith as a little child.