On Tuesday in the middle of May, I was called and told my Nan had died in Newfoundland. She was 90 years old and it was expected. But it was not expected so suddenly. Just like with Gramps, who died five years ago in March, my cousin and I with our moms would drive the 22 hours from Ontario back home, plus the six-hour boat ride, nonstop.
When Gramps died, my aunt asked my cousin and me to do the eulogy and scripture reading. We were proud to do it. We admired Gramps. But my aunt asked us the day before the service. So just in case she asked us to do the same thing this time, we both started to prepare for the service as we drove to Newfoundland.
We both realized in a short while that, although everyone mourned the passing of Nan, everyone was also relieved and thankful that it was over. We both thought we must be wrong in our conclusions and began to talk to as many of the relatives and friends of the family as we could meet. They all said the same thing. “We don’t want to speak disrespectful of the dead… but there will now be peace in the family.”
We didn’t have to ask them either. It would keep coming up in all the conversations. Gramps was a superstar for putting up with it all the 60 years of marriage that he did.
Even the bishop of Newfoundland said the same thing in his tactful eulogy. Yes, my cousin and I were greatly relieved to hear that the bishop was going to give the eulogy. We didn’t know what to say without either lying or hurting our aunts and uncles.
Don’t get me wrong. We all loved Nan, and we all put up with her, though she was a difficult person to get along with.
But as we all said our good-byes to Nan at the grave, we each shed a small tear and walked back to the limousines relieved it was over. No more zingers or being made to feel guilty. And we all enjoyed the reunion of relatives that came from as far as British Columbia and all points in between.
We sang and drank and told many a story, and we all laughed until we cried. We visited as many of the old relatives as we could, knowing this will be the last time we see them alive, and we went to all the places we had heard stories about, and we talked. It was a great occasion.
Seven days after leaving for Newfoundland I arrived home exhausted from the drive and the emotional ups and downs that one deals with at a funeral. I just wanted to sleep. But my wife was upset and my daughter and son were too.
Our dog, Molly, who we had had for the past 16 years, was not well. And by the next day I, too, knew she was in trouble.
That afternoon my wife and I took Molly for her last car ride to the vet. We both cried all the way there. I carried her in and placed her on the examination table. Both of us were bawling. We petted her head and her ears as we said good-bye.
My wife had to leave and told me to stay with her until the end. I just wanted to get out of there and not cry in front of the vet staff to preserve my dignity. But I realized I needed to be with my dog. My dog who would always be the first to greet me each and every day I came home from work. And who always had a smile as if to say, “I am glad to see you back.” Who was always excited when I would take her for a walk, and who never held a grudge when I punished her for having an accident on the rug or when I chained her up in the backyard.
Even in her last year, whenever we came in the door she would drag herself off the couch that she now claimed as her own and wobble out to greet us and have us pet her head and then return to the couch.
There is nothing bad I can say about Molly. Not a thing. So as I stroked her head and her ears and watched as the doctor injected her with the needle, I cried like I had not cried in a long time for my faithful companion. And just like that she was gone.
I carried Molly out in the same blanket she had laid on and the one she died in and brought her home to where she had spent all her life. My son and I dug a deep hole next to the red current bush and gently placed her in the grave. And I cried as I watched my son place the dirt back on her in a very respectful and mindful way so as not to hurt the only dog he had known all his life.
When we finished burying Molly, we placed a large stone over the grave. The whole time my wife watched from the bedroom window as she too cried uncontrollably. I then sat there by the grave for some time thinking and sobbing at the loss of such a good and faithful friend.
How Will I Be Remembered?
So why have I put myself through this torturous effort to write these events to you, all the time crying and sobbing as I do? It is because I wonder just how each of us is going to be remembered. How will I be remembered by my children and grandchildren? Will they be glad to be rid of me or will they cry me a river of love like I have for Molly? I love my Nan, but I miss my dog.
How will you be remembered? What is written in the Book of Life about you? Are you working toward the Kingdom or is this just another religion to you?
What will those who attend your funeral say? Will they be happy or sad? Will anyone cry a river of love for you?
How will you be remembered?
Two weeks have now passed since Nan and Molly died. I still look for Molly to come around the corner to greet us. And I am also thinking about some of my earliest memories of Nan.
Each night when I walk into my bedroom I see a large picture of a little boy looking out to sea. The title reads “Priorities.” Under that it reads: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
I have read this many times. But I only now realized that it applied to my Nan. My forceful, demanding Nan took me to see the movie The Ten Commandments. I was 5 maybe, and she wanted me to learn the morals of the Bible. It was the first time I had seen a movie in color. The screen was huge! We sat near the front, and when the sea parted, I got goose bumps—and still do!
My Nan wanted this movie to make an impression on me. To this day I always watch it at Passover. Although many in our family have little good to say of Nan, I now have this memory. The other family members may not understand why it is important to me, but I will now treasure this memory. Thanks, Nan.
How will you be remembered? UN