True Funeral Confessions: One-upping Pope Francis.

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by Doug Lawrence

Pope Francis’ recent confession about stealing a cross from the dead body of a fellow priest reminded me of a funeral I attended a long, long time ago – and something that I had never before confessed.

It was a pleasant summer morning at the cemetery. The grave had been freshly dug and the customary Astro-turf had been put down all around the perimeter, with the casket-lowering apparatus set upon it. A nearby oak provided a modicum of shade for all those assembled.

My employer’s elderly mother had passed away, and I was attending the graveside internment ceremony. Since one of my fellow employees and I appeared to be strong, vital, young men, we were assigned as escorts for several of the elderly ladies in attendance. Nobody told us precisely what we were supposed to watch out for or what we were to do. The idea was simply to stay close and offer whatever assistance might be necessary.

The internment rite competed, everyone prepared to pay final respects to the deceased, walking past the suspended casket and placing a flower on top. My fellow escort took up a position in line, some three persons ahead of me. Then there were three elderly ladies – and me. So far, so good!

The procession continued without a hitch, until the lady right in front of me began placing her flower on the casket. Somehow, in the proverbial “blink of an eye” – she just disappeared!

Her scream was not very loud, but it was still blood-curdling. O-o-o-h! O-o-o-o-h!  O-o-o-o-o-o-h! as she slipped into the grave – already in up to her shoulders and still going down! Mouth wide-open. Pleading eyes as big as saucers! Hell was about to swallow her up!

Such a thing would have seemed impossible, since there appeared to be only a few inches of clearances between the casket and the edge of the grave. But since the casket was merely suspended on a couple of nylon belts, there was nothing to stop a little old lady from pushing it aside and going right in. I’ll never forget the image, which has been permanently burned into my brain.

I managed to reach down and in one fluid motion, grab her right wrist and hand, pulling her up, out, and setting her right back on her feet. She was OK. In fact, things couldn’t have gone better if we had practiced! I brushed her off a bit and we continued on. Quick as a flash, the incident was over – or so I thought.

Looking up to see how my escort “buddy” had fared during all of this, I was met with a smirk – which quickly escalated to a chortle – which quickly escalated into a full blown, out of control, “laugh-in-church” type of scenario.

The emergency successfully past and safely overcome, there was no denying the levity of the situation. We had just experienced a rare and unusual happening and desperately needed to express our feelings. But we just couldn’t, right now!

So, red-faced and choking back tears, we respectfully made our way back to the car, rolled up the windows, and for the next ten minutes, laughed our respective butts off. I’m sure the car was shaking, the whole time!

We like to think that our hysterical laughter might have been mistaken for grief.

Such is the nature of True Funeral Confessions. Send us your own similar stories, for publication.

An Easter Story

An Easter Story

THE EGG

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of the other students.” Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”

Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’ face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-why that’s very nice, Jeremy. N-now, please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment?

Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them?

That evening, Doris’ kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arm. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life, too.”
Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine.”

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, “My daddy helped me,” he beamed. Then Doris opened the fourth egg.

She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy’s she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked in to her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.”

Time stopped.

When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”

“Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up.”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.
 

Submitted by: Doria2