I attended a Celebration of Life for Arlene Richardson this morning. I didn’t know Mrs. Richardson; I attended in deference to a close church friend. Mrs. Richardson was her mother. It was my first in Maine, but certainly not the first in my lifetime. Call it a wake, services, funeral, celebration of life or whatever, the day always marks the closing of a chapter … in Mrs. Richardson’s case, a 94 year chapter. At all these services, you hear of the grit of the journey and you get a chance to walk with them — sometimes just a few steps, sometimes more depending on how well you knew them.
Her son, Alton Richardson, officiated bringing her life to, well, life, especially for those who did not know her. It was a moving celebration with tears, laughter, song and Scripture — attributes well know to Mrs. Richardson, her five children and their spouses, 11 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews and many friends.
Mrs. Richardson was a member of Ripley United Methodist Church and was Sunday school superintendent for many years. She was active in local affairs including being a 4-H leader for eight years, member and officer of the Ripley Grange, member of the Busy Fingers in Harmony (ME) and the American Legion Auxiliary. She was well known for her cooking skills. She was a long time cook at the Ripley and Dexter schools and other facilities and helped organize and cook for many benefit suppers.
Those are the “facts.” But as I looked around a packed community church, I could sense her life touched even more people than she ever realized. Her legacy spanned generations. I felt it. They came to say good-bye. However, her family knew — as did the rest of us believers — this wasn’t good-bye. We’ll get to meet her again.
Her son put it best. Paraphrasing, he said she inhaled her last breath the morning of Feb. 27, but exhaled in heaven, tossed her cumbersome walker aside, clicked her heels and walked down the golden streets with her Savior. What a picture!
My mind raced back almost 10 years ago when my wife took her last breath with grace and dignity. There was no apprehension. There was no tension in her hands. It may not be scientifically nor theologically true, but I believe she, too, opened her eyes to the glory of eternity as she saw her Lord and Savior come with open arms to embrace her and bring her to the Father.
Alton said he had one regret. He didn’t sing to her just days before the trip across the Jordan. He made up for it during the service, but chided everyone in the church to not put off saying I love you … or visiting even by phone … or singing. Don’t bring regrets to the casket.
Our sadness … their joy!
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. — Carl Bard