Friday, April 21, 2017

#434 Always Go To The Funeral

My parents have subscribed to Reader’s Digest for approximately 20 years.  I have always enjoyed reading the small magazine.  It may be “uncool”, like I’ve heard people say about “CBS Sunday Morning”, but I love the stories and have garnered useful information. 

I’ve lived on my own for over 17 years, but my mom still gives me her “used” Reader’s Digests.  I have a stack of them on the bottom shelf of my bedside table.  I throw that and a copy of Guideposts in my gym bag and read them while I ride the stationary bike.  As a side-note, I also keep a couple copies of the Guideposts in my car to read while stuck in traffic to keep me calm. 

One Reader’s Digest story I read stuck with me.  I found the same article on the National Public Radio Website.  It’s titled “Always Go To The Funeral” by Deirdre Sullivan.  Deirdre talks about how her father always made her siblings go to viewings and funerals when they were kids.  He told them people would remember they had made the effort to go pay their respects.  And it’s just the right thing to do. 

The week before this past Christmas, I learned that the brother of one of my childhood classmates had died.  He was 46.  My parents are still friends with his father and his father’s second wife.  I had not seen Eric, my classmate, since his mother died around 10 years ago, and I attended that viewing. 

My parents mentioned that the viewing and funeral were scheduled for Dec. 27.  I had the week off but was “busy” running errands and getting ready for a quick trip to Nashville, Tennessee with my niece.  I thought about going, but decided I wouldn’t since I hadn’t seen him in forever, and I sent a sympathy card with my parents to give to him. 

When the day came, all I could think about was that article.  The phrase, “Always Go To The Funeral” kept running through my head.  I wasn’t that busy, was I?  But I had already sent the card, and he would think it was weird that I showed up after he already had my card.  I drove off to run another errand, but eventually turned the car around, changed into more presentable clothes, and set out to the viewing. 

It didn’t take that long to get there.  And it was a nice, sunny day for a drive.  My parents were surprised to see me.  I’m sure Eric was as well.  I didn’t stay long but we talked for a bit and I also saw his wife and one of his daughters, his father and stepmother. 

Was my being there a huge deal for Eric and his family?  Probably not.  I wasn’t trying to make a big statement.  I just wanted to be there, even for a short time, and let him know that I still value his friendship and I care about him.  Simple gestures are still important gestures.  I’m glad I went.  I hope you choose to go when the time comes.

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