If you read my blog called “Beautiful People Matter”, you will know of the passing of a gentle soul I had come to know at work. Today we had his memorial. True beauty and emotional tributes were in abundance. What was missing were the fancy trimmings.
It was not at a fancy funeral home or a majestic church. The people attending did not arrive in fancy dress cloths, carrying flowers, hugging each other in fake condolences. No, real people arrived in tattered cloths that lacked of fashion but were functional.
Some dressed in regular work attire turned out to be caseworkers from days past and present. These were the caring people that walked with my friend as he struggled through life, his support team. They did not have to be here today but chose to spend this last important day with those they care about, their clients and coworkers. A mutual need to love.
The others were his friends from the streets and the home he lived in. These often frowned upon people, by the end of the service would show genuine, honest human sorrow, love and compassion. No disingenuous eulogies, tears or BS. Just raw truth.
The setting was in the common room. A large room that at one time would have been the gathering place for brandy and cigars. Today it was filled with a mismatch of scratched wooden chairs, worn out leather chairs, that have seen better days, and a few functional tables. The highlight being a flat screen TV on the off white walls. Simplistic in nature but about to transform into a warm place of acceptance and beauty.
The staff had purchased a pretty purple and white plant and placed it on a tiny table beside a picture of the dearly departed. There was a plaque speaking of friends and family. Not fancy, but containing more love than the fanciest flower arrangements available.
Off to the side were aluminum trays of various chips and snacks. Water and pop for the taking. The scene was set
A comfort as simple as a chair is often taken for granted, but not today. As the door buzzer played out its music, over and over, and over, the common room filled up, as did the available chairs. The overflow of mourners sat Indian style on the floor and some stood in the hallway.
The Minister, dress in casual street attire, no fancy robes or signs of divinity, welcomed everyone. An unassuming man yet a man that seemed comfortable in a world a lot would find hard to visit. That is of course, their loss, as you will see shortly.
He began with an opening prayer and all heads were bowed, all! When he was finished this unassuming minister asked if anyone had words to share. This is when my heart grew just a bit bigger. At first I was afraid no one would speak. How wrong I was.
A man sitting on the floor spoke up, with excitement, not sorrow, excitement. He began to tell all of us how special our friend was. How he always had a smoke if you needed one, or money if you were broke. How he was always smiling and “he was a real nice guy.” The line that choked me was one you may find in a well prepared script, yet this man had no script. Just the honest, from the heart, no holds barred honest feelings, most of the privileged are often afraid to express for fear of sounding disingenuous. “I wish I could turn back time, I wish…I could. This from someone who has little yet showed just how much he actually has. This line used so often now had meaning, true meaning and it moved me!
Another spoke up and stated that “he would give you the shirt off his back, a good friend.” a couple of others reflected how our friend loved Christ and Mary, always trying to be Godly, slipping occasionally, as we all do, but quickly recovering. Then someone else told of how he would dress all in white on Sunday, grab his bible and head to church, blessing every passerby he met. What a picture that created in my mind, and others listening.
We had music provided by the Minister and here is an except from the blues tune called;
“Make a Better World” by Maria Muldaur and the Women’s Voice For Peace Choir.
“Society is the priority cause we’re all just part of the whole.
Now when the people shout you got to hear them out, everybody is a beautiful soul.
We got to work together hand in hand; we really got to do our best.
Oh now wouldn’t it be a perfect sight to see the whole world filled with happiness.”
As this song floated out a catchy rock n blues tempo I saw folks moving to the music, and one fella singing as best he could.Everyone lost in the moment.
I witnessed a staff member, a big burly cook with an even bigger heart, discreetly use his thumb to wipe what appeared to be a tear. he wasn’t the only one. No fake wailing or boisterous shows of grief, just the occasional tear.
I later thought of the story of the poor lady who put 2 coppers in the plate when Christ taught at the temple. Christ cherished her offering the most because she gave all she had. Our friend, from testimony given, reminds me of this biblical lady. He had very little in this world. Poor as poor can get, yet shared all he had. Smiled as he blessed people.
Many nights he would sit and ask me questions about the bible, God, and if there was a heaven.
Well my friend now you know. I told you there was. Enjoy it. Your love, compassion and faith assures me you are with the angels. Someday I will see you again and we can sit and chat, like we used to down here.
Funny, I was upset that I got called into work. I was supposed to be at a family lunch, then visit my mom at the nursing home. I guess God decided to bless me today. I had no idea of the memorial. I thank God he made it possible to witness such a simple yet beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul
An ounce of love cures a ton of heartache!
Peace until next time.