Chappy’s corner “What will they say at your funeral?”

Some gals were having a conversation. One of them says, "What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?"They think about it for a while, and then one of them answers, "I want them to say I was a good gal and had lots of friends. The second gal nodded and said, "Yeah, I want them to say “she looks pretty good for a gal 100 years old.”The third gal looked up and said, "At my funeral, I want everyone to point and say 'Look! She's moving!'"


What will people say at your funeral?  That was the challenge for Joe who had to bury his brother Fred. In this small town there were two brothers, Joe and Fred, who were known by everyone in town to be crooks, cheats and swindlers.  But everyone had to do business with them and the result was the two brothers were very wealthy.  One day the younger brother, Fred became sick and died.  The older brother, Joe went from church to church wanting some preacher to do the service, but no one would do it. The last church in town was in bad shape. The roof leaked, the furnace was broke and there was no money in the treasury.  Joe told the preacher, “If you do my brother’s funeral, I will pay for a new roof and a new furnace for your church. But there’s one condition I require, you have to say something nice about my brother in the sermon.”  The pastor debated the request and then said, “Can we have the funds in advance?” Joe agreed and gave him the money, but then added “Remember you have to say something nice about my brother!”  The next day everyone from town came to the funeral to hear what the preacher would say.  After a song, the pastor stood up in the pulpit and began his sermon with these words, “We are gathered here today, to conduct a funeral for Fred, a man we all know was a liar, a cheat and a swindler, but I can honestly say, that one thing good about Fred was that he wasn’t as bad as his brother Joe.”


What do you want people to say at your funeral?   Some might want to hear “This person was a hard worker who made lots of money”.  That is a fine statement, but what kind of relationship did he have with those around him. Fred was wealthy, but nobody cared for him, except his dishonest brother. What about us?  What will people say at your funeral? Someone noticed that on a tombstone there is the name of the person and the dates of their birth and their death.  In between those dates was a dash sign.  The comment is this:  It’s not important when you were born or when you die, what is important is what happens in between those dates. That dash is one’s life, and life can dash by quickly. 


Recently I had a funeral for a man who had been married for sixty years to the same woman.  Due to health reasons she had been in a nursing home for the last ten years, but every day that man would travel the thirty miles to Vermillion and visit his wife. He spent two –three hours a day with her, and they would go for walks. Side by side they walked, him holding her arm and it was a beautiful picture of a loving couple.  But the truth is, this woman had no idea who the man was. Due to Alzheimer’s disease she didn’t know her children, her pastor or her husband. She couldn’t communicate but she could walk, and every day they walked side by side as husband and wife.  This man wasn’t perfect but in the way he cared for his wife he serves as a wonderful example of what it means to love someone in life.  He could have quit going, he could have left her all alone, but he didn’t.  At his funeral I shared that his love demonstrated the love God has for us.

After all, many of us have forgotten about God and God could have forgotten us.  But He didn’t. Instead God pours out his love upon us in giving us what we need for this life and then some. For God not only wants us to have life now, but also a life forever with him.  That’s why God sent Jesus, as the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes n him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  


Life is a precious gift, and how we live it says a lot.  As St. Paul declared “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Hopefully we will live our lives so people will say at our funeral “They lived for the Savior”


That’s just my thought from this corner of SE South Dakota!

CH (COL) David Gunderson

State Chaplain for SDARNG