A Time for Reflection

Published August 27, 1981. Funerals are always a solemn occasion. Such was the case a few weeks ago when Susan and I attended one for Leo Ford, our next-door neighbor.

For us the funeral was a time to reflect—not only about dying, but also about living. Never had we seen such an array of floral offerings. But then, there were not too many men like Leo Ford.

Leo was a quiet, unassuming man. A family man from head to toe.

And a magnificent husband. Before the funeral, each of his sons and daughters, now grown, wrote a few of their thoughts about their father. These were things they remembered about him when they were small children.

During the funeral one of the speakers read some of Leo’s children’s thoughts, and it made me think. As a father, what will my children remember and perhaps write about me someday? What memories are we not creating for our loved ones? After we too, have gone, what will they remember? Later, I found Susan had been thinking much the same.

Through that hour of tears, while sharing another’s sorrow, somehow the petty, day-to-day concerns just don’t seem to matter much. For just a few minutes at a funeral you sit back and gain a new perspective on life by looking beyond the immediate situation. And you begin to think of people rather than things.

A few more tears were shed when Leo’s grandchildren sang a song for him. But for me, the most touching part of the funeral was when some of the thoughts of Jenny, Leo’s wife, were read. She recalled many of the trips she and Leo had taken together as their family grew. She reminisced about moving to the Orem East Bench when relatively few other people lived there.  She also remembered buying their home in the 1940’s (that she and Leo still occupied) and the many memories that came from rearing their family in that home.

Jenny and other speakers recalled how Leo loved the mountains and enjoyed taking his family camping. Never would he admit being lost during any of the numerous family hikes, even though the family often walked for what seemed like hours before arriving at their destination.

Susan and I were among the hundreds of friends and neighbors lined up at the funeral to express our sympathy to Jenny and the rest of the family. And it is always difficult to know just what to say to a woman when her husband of many years has passed away.

But to Jenny and others who have recently lost a husband or wife through death, we share the thoughts of Adelaide Love who undoubtedly expressed the sentiments of many when she wrote the following poem.

Walk Slowly
If you should go before me, dear, walk slowly
Down the ways of death, well-worn and wide
For I would want to overtake you quickly
And seek the journey’s ending by your side.
I would be so forlorn not to descry you
Down some shining highroad when I came;
Walk slowly, dear, and often look behind you
And pause to hear if someone calls your name.

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