We left San Jose early Wednesday morning. Following a layover in Phoenix, we were supposed to stop in Denver without a plane change and go on to Wichita. Plans changed, and both we and the flight crew changed planes in Denver. Don and I walked from Gate 63 to Gate 25 … a decent hike. But we beat the flight crew.
Arriving in Wichita, we picked up our rental car and drove to my brother Arnold’s home, where we had a bittersweet reunion – sweet because we were together; bitter because we were here for Arn’s wife, Carol’s, memorial service.
I wrote about Carol two weeks ago. When Arn asked what she wanted for her service, she said, “Treat me with respect.” And he did that in spades. The service Saturday was a meaningful celebration of her life. After Arn and Carol traveled to and became involved with friends in Guatemala and then Honduras, Carol traveled there on her own several times to learn the language. She wanted to be able to communicate with the people who had become precious to them, and she and Arnold helped in significant ways over the years, and especially after recent years’ devastating hurricanes. After Carol’s death, dear Honduran friends sent a recording of the family singing “The Lord is my Shepherd” in Spanish. That was one of several very beautiful and meaningful songs of faith and trust at my sister-in-law’s memorial.
Arn and Carol’s daughter, Nicholee, brought some fabric home from Honduras years ago, from which Carol sewed herself a dress. After her mother’s death, Nicholee found the dress in Carol’s closet. It didn’t fit her in either size or style, so Nicholee pulled the whole dress apart, remade it and wore it at the service in honor of her mother.
Their son, Jerram, engaged the audience and spoke of Carol’s impact on his life and on many others. He spoke of her life of service, her pragmatism, and her curiosity and creativity. Both children articulated lessons their mother taught them through her life.
The pastor give a message of hope and resurrection.
We spent time together with family and new and old friends who have served them faithfully–their housecleaner/ friend, who prepared special vegan meals for Nicholee. Tammy, who cut Carol and Arnold’s hair in their home for the past few years. The retired attorney who, with his wife, met Arn and Carol at a concert in Wichita and built a solid friendship over the past twenty or so years. Jenny, Arnold’s former student who was hired into his position at Sterling College after Arnold’s retirement. Gordon and Diane, Judy and her daughter Heidi, and Lila, who have been close friends for many years. Their pastor, Melissa.
Arnold’s siblings Melvyn, Bob, Don and I were present, as were Carol’s sister Judy and her husband Jim, their son James and his Jenny. Arnold’s two children and a spouse; five grandchildren and two boyfriends.
A sense of warmth and love cocooned us throughout the entire weekend as we shared memories, laughter, and loss.
I’m reminded once again of the importance of family, and of presence. We need each other – for prayer, for love, for support and encouragement. I hate to think of my brother being widowed, but he will survive with the love of God, family, and friends who can step in for those of us who live further away.
My hope is in Jesus Christ, who promised that, for those who trust Him, He is preparing a home beyond this life. A home of rest, peace, productivity, worship, joy unspeakable. No more pain. No sorrow. No grief.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”Revelation 21:3-4, NIV
So we say goodbye to our dear Carol for now, and look forward to reunion later.