Friday, February 10, 2012

SHIRLEY MAE, surely may be an angel.

It has been months since I have written. But now, it is time to savor the the friendship of one that died. Let's reflect on her funeral.

Her name was Fanny Cosby; she was one of many who wrote songs of praise at the turn of the century. To many of us, those became hoe down songs at family gatherings when everyone sang while Bob played guitar and/or Dorothy played the piano. Simple times and precious memories. Harmony, the purest kind.
Today, the pianist played all those old songs before the funeral. The words were in the Seven Day Adventist Hymnal just like they must have been in the Mission Covenant hand book. If one didn’t know these songs and were around the Anderson family, you soon would! All the verses. All. Just remembered the music being kicked up a notch.
Shirley was dressed in a maroon top. Her nails were beautifully painted. Last time I saw her in the real, she had long hair, it had been cut and curled and was so cute on her almost impish face. The family who knew her and saw her daily were very pleased at how nice she looked. Her casket was light blue and the cascade of flowers were colorful and mixed. Her friend, Linda remembered Shirley wanting to be buried in a purple shirt and a straw hat with flower. Knowing the inner secret, Tom wore a purple tie.

There were folded notes in the casket with her. I was hopeful someone would share what they said. Many times, the letters are read out loud. What was in the letters where truly personal between Shirley and the writer. Perhaps they were shared the night before at the prayer service.

Dr. Bray read the history, which was the obituary. He talked about the pain he had inflicted on Shirley. He had done her surgeries. He didn’t quite make it to the humor line OR is typical in Northern Minnesota, too stoic or it was an inside joke. They had known each other since 1968. I wanted to turn around and look for his wife, Lois. She had taken Shirley to Fargo a few times and is a grand lady. We would step into the gym near the church later to say hello.
Before the service, the minister, a mid-fifties man with half glasses on the tip of his nose, read a poem Shirley had written in 1981. It was to do with attitude. He could have stopped right there; she had made her point. Maybe there is something to be said about writing one's own good bye. Maybe there is something about having the last word. Oops, that isn't what funerals are. Maybe they should be.

The sermon was based on John 11:1-45. The question to all of us was: Are you in a difficult trial? Do you feel like God is delaying much too long to answer your need? Do you trust God even in the delay? Remember the story of Lazarus. Your situation could not be any worse than his! Trust that God must have a purpose for your trial, and that he will bring glory to himself through it. I wondered if there would be an altar call, there was not.

After singing In the Garden followed by prayer, the casket, followed by family was dismissed. Keith and the pall bearers walked behind to the hearse the ‘helped’. Most certainly her grand children will not forget ‘helping’. Bridget seemed enveloped in her long, black velvet-like dress standing next to the hearse. Actually, amidst all those people all I remember seeing her sad eyes. What a precious child she is, as are the rest of Shirley’s grand children. Brenda said that she and her dad stayed up very late last night talking. He stated how lucky he was to have his kids and grand kids so close. They truly are a family with strong, loving ties to one another.

Shirley had a lot of friends from her life walk. Everyone I spoke to only had great things to say about her. We watched the supporters mingle around the family, truly, this is a community to be envied.

Loving thoughts to all.