Joe F

My Dad’s Funeral

My daughter Rebekah and I were watching TV a few years ago. And we came across an extraordinary documentary on the Hubble Telescope. Interestingly, the Hubble has technology that allows it to see through dust clouds into the inner core. It does it by working through temperatures inside those clouds.

What it does is gives us a glimpse into God’s playground. As we fly through space we see nebulae and solar systems. We entered into one cloud to find these little tadpole looking things. We find out they are actually solar systems being formed by 100 million mile per hour winds.

But what really struck me was a far off star that was very bright but would weaken then become very bright again. As we approached you realize it is a dying star – expanding and contracting over and over. Each expansion brought bright light and each contraction it would dim. Every planet around it was kept in place by its gravitational pull. This star warmed them and protected them.

But with its dying all of the surrounding planets were being affected. Until one time the star grew immense and contracted one last time – and then the light went out.

Our last days – weeks – with Pop were like that star. Thanksgiving was wonderful. He ate well. He visited with us. He told us he loved us. He was a bright shining star. He was our safe place as he’s always been. Two days later he contracted and the light dimmed.

But over the next days and weeks he would expand and the light shown bright only to once again contract into not knowing who we were. I didn’t get to see his brightness – I only saw him when he didn’t know me.

But through it all he was always there in front of me. That safe place in a time of chaos. That hand that reached out when I was lost to bring me safely to land. He was always my protector. Only now he didn’t know me.

I mentioned the star collapsing on itself earlier. I remember feeling so sad for all that star had been. And everything that had depended on that star.

But that was but a moment. You see, then that star expanded so rapidly and so brilliantly that it exploded across the Universe. Sending all that it had been to become the building blocks of new life on countless other planets.

These ashes here – my father’s earthly remains – represent him as that star – the building blocks of the new lives.

I’m not going to stand here and pretend this man – my father – was perfect. He wasn’t. He made many mistakes and he hurt people. I’m not a priest but I became his de facto confessor. He was aware of his flaws.

What he didn’t recognize was his goodness. There was a certain symmetry to the man. I think he eventually mitigated each of those wrongs by doing great good.

What I know without a doubt was he was our protector – our safe place in the midst of chaos.


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