Here’s the song reference.
Yesterday brought both my Aunt Gerri’s funeral and Bugaboo’s birthday party. I had explained to Bugaboo previously that while the two events were happening during the same time frame, and that nothing less could keep me from her party, I needed to be at a celebration of a different sort, but that if the Lord would make a way, I would be there for at least the last little bit of her festivities at the skating rink. Bugaboo is a loving and understanding little girl, and she understood first that sometimes grownups have to make difficult choices, and second that Mommy habitually keeps her promises.
I learned a lot about my Aunt at her funeral, not the least of which was that she and I share a common passion for feeding the hungry. I also got the backstory on a question that’s gone unanswered since Granny’s memorial service in 1990. Aunt Gerri loathed the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” but I never understood why until the minister who was eulogizing her told the story of how he and she had planned her final celebration together. As it happens, she could not stand the lyric, “that saved a wretch like me,” because it was her stalwart belief that none of us are wretches, and that we are all beloved of God.
I love her logic.
It’s hard for me to write much more about Aunt Gerri’s homecoming party right now, but I do want to share something else that will remain with me for the rest of my life. For the recessional and the procession to the memory garden for the interment of her ashes, my Aunt chose a song I sing with my children, “Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” All those present clapped, swayed, and sang as her ashes were borne from the church, and the singing and clapping continued until the last congregants had left the sanctuary.
When I leave this earth, I want there to be as much rejoicing in the assurance that I am with my Lord as there was for my Aunt. As joyful as it was, I could not hold back my tears for all those years that we could have shared in each other’s work, in each other’s love. While I know that she forgives me, and the Lord Himself forgives me, it’s harder at times to forgive myself for my trespasses.
I left the church and headed down the interstate as fast as I could, in order to honor my promise to Bugaboo. Suffice it to say that after some extremely frustrating moments in traffic, including one memorable exercise in un-Christian language (which I am grateful the tribe did not hear) directed at a driver who blocked the exit ramp while consulting his GPS and a test of the speedometer in my mom van, I did make it to the day’s other celebration, to Bugaboo’s unbounded delight and Mr. Man’s unbounded relief. I forgot that in his two years, Mr. Man has had exactly two days when Mommy wasn’t there — one for an uncle’s funeral when Mr. Man was but a week old, and the other the day Baby Guy was born.
All of our children, their friends, and extended family had a terrific time at the skating rink, and the girls are now pretty comfortable on skates. The older family members were all smiles from watching the passel of pint-sized people play, sing, and delight in glow stick jewelry and disco balls. Again, it’s hard right now to write much, but I thought my heart would explode when each of my children in turn ran to me for hugs and kisses.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for such a morning as You gave me yesterday, filled with a loving family, most of whom I had never met before. Thank You for the gift of the beautiful life of Your child and my Aunt, Geraldine Williams, for the beautiful example of covenant marriage she and Uncle Alusine built, for the beautiful gift of Daniel with whom You blessed their marriage. Thank You for the blessed assurance that she is in Heaven this day with You, as will all those who keep Your covenants and commandments be. Thank You for the gifts of song, dance, and laughter that You have given us to mark our celebrations for each other, and for You. Help me teach Your blessings to love all Your gifts without qualification or reservation, simply because they come from you, and that none of us who live in You are wretched.