This past Friday, my wife and I attended a funeral. Something I don’t especially like doing, but, as my old barber used to say, “If you are too busy to attend weddings and funerals, you’re too busy.”
My wife and I wanted to pay our respects to this family and the memory of their deceased son and brother. There were about 1500 people in attendance. The funeral was for a young 18-year- old college freshman boy, who sadly, lost his life trying to help a stranded motorist. The young man and his family attend church where my wife and I attend, and they often sit near us in services.
Thinking there would be a large number at the service, my wife and I arrived about forty-five minutes prior to the service time. Very shortly after we sat down, a man and a young teenage girl excused themselves and stepped past us to take the two remaining chairs in our row. A conversation began between the man and me. I learned his family was neighbors of the family suffering the loss. The conversation was pleasant, and I learned the teenage girl with him was his daughter. Shortly into the service, he did two things that caught my attention. First, with the sadness of the service, he took out a tissue and handed it to his daughter as she began to cry. The next thing he did caused tears to come to my eyes. He reached over and placed her small hand in his, and then he took his other hand and cupped both his hands over hers. I don’t know when, or if ever, I’ve seen a father reach for a daughter’s hand so gently and meaningfully.
Later, I thought about that father, him reaching for his daughter’s hand and the special way he gave attention to her and her sadness, placing both his hands on hers. I thought how much “we,” the two generations, need one another and how many times we need to reach for one another’s hand. I thought about the difference in the ages of the two, but sadness and sorrow know no age. I’m sure there are certain times in all our lives that we have a need for someone to “reach out and take our hand.”
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.
And you, of tender years, can’t know the fears
your elders grew by.
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
(Crosby, Stills and Nash)
March 13, 2012