Why does the word “last” have so much significance in our lives? As we lay my Uncle to rest, I think back to the last time I saw him. Unfortunately, it was at my first cousin’s funeral. As I remind my children who their great Uncle was, I begin with something I know they will remember. I remind them of the road we always four wheeled on to Marvin’s house. I’ve traveled down that road more times than I can remember, and have so many memories of my Uncle, my Dad, and my family back home in South Dakota. As I made my way back to pay my last respects, I was informed the immediate family was going to take Marvin on the last ride to his home. As I choked back my emotion upon hearing this, I thought what an amazing way to honor him for the last time. The hearse was going to lead the immediate family down the narrow/ gravel/hilly road to the old farmstead. The house no longer stands where he, my Dad, and their family were raised, but it still brings back memories that will remain forever in our hearts and minds.
My Dad is a story teller, and as he draws you in, he makes you feel like you are right there in the moment with him. He shared the story of when Marvin challenged him to race horses in their younger years. The Bailey’s love to be challenged, and the race was on! With a wide open gallop, my Dad says Marvin was ahead of him going so fast that he didn’t realize the barbed wire gate wasn’t open! Marvin ran his horse right through the gate and luckily didn’t get injured. My Dad laughs as he tells the story, and then at the end…he says… “I didn’t have to open the gate, Marvin opened it for me.” In my quiet silence, all I could think of was that Marvin opened the gates of Heaven for my Dad to follow. Keeping it to myself, and in the bittersweet of the story, my Dad just smiled in his sadness.
I wonder if that’s how Jesus felt during the Last Supper? The last time he would have all his apostles with him. The last time they would share a meal together, and the last time Jesus would raise the cup to drink and the bread to eat. The last time all his followers would be loyal. As the last supper picture hangs by my parents bed, and in their dining room, I’m reminded of the lasts in this life. Don’t wait to forgive someone, for you may not have another chance. Don’t stand on the sidelines when someone is hurting, help them. Don’t wonder when the last time was that you said you loved someone. Even if you are the last branch in your family tree left, remind yourself those who opened the gate before you are with you, are holding you up, and are waiting for you to join them.
This song is for Paul, but it is so fitting for my family, and my Uncle Marvin’s last ride. May you rest in forever peace…Marvin. Your family loves and misses you!