I went to the memorial service for my great grandfather yesterday. The occasion was a solemn one, but not many tears were shed. His official funeral had been in California - his state of residence - the week before, and most everyone who attended the service had shed their tears then. I sang that day, a song specially requested by my great grandmother. "Oh, My Papa," - come to find out it was sung at her own father's funeral. I was honored to be asked to sing it for her husband.
There were two miracles that happened on that hot Utah afternoon. The first was a pre-existing one - the miracle of knowing what we know. I know that Grandpa is now content and free from pain, and that we will someday see him again. That knowledge is more precious and more comforting than anything else in this world.
The second miracle was performed by the relief society sisters. As is generally the custom among LDS wards, the relief society at the ward building we attended provided a luncheon for the family members. We were all complete strangers to these women. Grandpa was being buried in Grandma's hometown, where she and her parents and grandparents had lived - but none of the people in attendance (including Grandma) live there anymore. Few of us had even visited the place in years. And yet these saintly sisters went to great trouble and effort to provide a meal for us. If that isn't service and Christian charity at its finest, I don't know what is.
You can talk about the "mormon quirks" from now until the cows come home. The priesthood brethren coming for the food and staying to take down chairs... enormous food storage jokes... relief society hand-outs... quilt tying... return missionary stories... or, the best of the lot, green jell-o and funeral potatoes. But I can say without a doubt that there is no form of sustinence on this planet (short of the sacrament) that is more satisfying or more comforting than green jell-o and funeral potatoes. To go from weeping over the empty shell of a loved one, to laughing with friends and family over a hot meal... that is a magical transformation if I ever saw one.
So many thanks to the Axtell Relief Society sisters - you are magic in its purest form.
'Til next we meet, dear readers...