And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NIV)
Husband’s great aunt died at age 92, and the funeral was today. She wasn’t exactly his great aunt, but in his family, relationships are all mixed up because the branches of the family tree intertwine. Husband’s grandfather and his brother and their two wives all lived in the same big farmhouse way out in the country. There were about a dozen children between them who instead of being raised as cousins were raised as brothers and sisters. To add to the confusion, when they grew up, they all moved south to the big city and lived in the same neighborhood. Second cousins became aunts and uncles and helped to raise the third generation. So, when “Aunt” Francis died, it was like having a grandma or great aunt die. People came from all over to pay their last respects all of them related some way or another to those two farmer brothers. Sadly, husband could not get off work to go to the funeral, so I represented the family and also went to help with the meal which was held at my mother in law’s house. As an outsider, it was hard for me to keep everyone straight! I wished that they had nametags; I didn’t know who was who. There were all the typical characters with some surprising twists. The “hick” cousin and his wife who talked with thick accents and carried a little dog around everywhere they went were so knowledgeable about the latest farming techniques and research. Turns out both of them work for a large state university carrying out the experiments designed by the scientists there. The burned out hippie cousin is actually a fisherman making a good wage and living in an exclusive part of town. The silly teenage girl who seemed destined to become a beauty queen is a mom of two teenage boys of her own and no longer silly, but still beautiful. There were braggarts telling lies, old women comparing recipes and little kids racing in and out and snatching pieces of cake. The volume of conversation rose in proportion to the amount of sugar consumed. There were no less than two kinds of meat and six varieties of cake not to mention the VERY sweet tea. It was agreed that the one thing that family has in common is their ability to cook and consume what they ate! Some of the recipes served today have been in the family for generations. When it was time to leave, everyone was sad to say good bye. Not only was Aunt Francis missed, but we were reminded that there are no guarantees that any of us will be back at the next family gathering. Hugs were tighter, smiles sweeter and “I Love Yous” stronger as cousins said farewell. It made it easier to know if we don’t see each other again here on earth, we’ll see each other in Heaven. And I bet there will be even more than six kinds of cake served there!