The smiling widow shown here welcoming the earthly remains of her husband in the narthex of the church before the beginning of the liturgy is none other than the long time wife of Bob Brancamp whose story is the post preceding this one. This was not a "Dies Irae" (day of wrath) funeral. This was not an "O mors inevitabilis, mors amara, mors crudelis" (O inevitable death, bitter death, cruel death) kind of funeral. This was a spiritual event at the highest plane. I did not have to ask the widow to smile, she was already smiling. She is sure that her beloved is looking down upon her. She is sure that God has assigned her to his care. She, and the community of faithful participating in the rite of committing the soul of the beloved deceased to God, just know that Bob is in heaven. We just know that Bob has been born into the presence of God. Just as a person is escorted into the community ocupying the nave for rebirth by Baptism, so was Bob escorted into the church to celebrate his birth into heaven.
The entire environment told the same story. From the white drape enveloping the casket, the white suit worn by Elvira, the saintly widow, white vestments on the eight priests who concelebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the signing of "Allelluia" and the lilting tones of the carefully chosen music, all was hope and thanksgiving. The sharing of the peace was a true blessing of one to the other and all eight of the priests made their way to Elvira's pew to hug her and bless her and the rest of her family. We went to the communion stations to partake of the sacrificed body of Christ, knowing that He was also carrying Bob with Him.
After the Mass and the final blessing of the remains, we heard the eulogy of Elvira, delivered by a beloved chosen emmissary. It is reproduced here, with Elvira's permission.
"Bob is a wonderful husband. In our 35 years and 8 months of marriage, he probably got angry only three or four times. He is a very patient person. He is always there for me whenever I need something. During our married life together he was very caring, especially when I had to go into four types of surgery. We did not have all the luxuries in life, but we were able to manage for we both worked and helped each other. He would always say 'Thank you' in every little thing you would do for him. I gave him his haircult since we got married in 1972, and he would always say, 'I feel 10 pounds lighter' after the haircut.
"We have our senior moments and who doesn't when you get to be a senior. We both love to go bowling, play bingo, visit different casinos, play the penny machines, and when he passed out, it happened in a casino, although I was not beside him or near him when it happened.
"On behalf of Bob's family and I, I would like to thank you all for showing your gratitude. I will always cherish and keep all your prayers and sympathy in my heart. God has been good to us. He always directed us to the right path, and provided us with everything we need. I will love Bob forever, and we will see each other in the next life."
It is good for all of us to be able to look up and see Bob in heaven. He is a good example for us all. Yesterday was more like "Haec dies quam fecit Dominus" (This is the day the Lord has made). Yesterday we saw God in a new light because Bob showed us a side if Him that we hadn't seen before.
No, I did not cry at this funeral. Frankly, not too many of us did. Bob was that kind of guy.