Yesterday was the funeral. It was a sweet memorial to a wonderful life. We ended the day in Bartlett, Texas, with a graveside service, and we lingered while they put the casket into the vault, sealed it, and lowered it in the earth. We stood around as a family and watched them lower Dad into the ground. For me, this visual brought healthy closure. As sad as we are, there is such joy and victory that he is above watching and waiting for us to join him someday.
I read the following memory at the funeral service at Gateway Church yesterday morning.
Dad loved to travel. And when he wasn’t traveling, he was planning a trip or dreaming about one. Since Dad retired, he and Mom have seen many places across the United States and abroad like Alaska, Hawaii, United Kingdom, Europe, Eastern Europe, and Israel. They also enjoyed some exotic places like New Zealand, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and China. Together they have taken 30 cruises, enjoying all the sights, sounds, and local color of the places to which those cruiseliners took them. Of course, we all know the cruiseliner is the destination itself, and the exotic locale a bonus!
Sometimes Dad just liked to get in the car and take off, seeing where the road would lead them. Mom was also up for the journey. Together they were great traveling buddies. They have a stack of photo albums of all their experiences. These trips afforded them many happy hours together, which will provide a treasure chest of memories for Mom in the days ahead.
Wayne inherited Dad’s traveling genes, and we have spent a number of years living in foreign countries as well and traveling–months living out of suitcases. Mom and Dad visited us while we were living in Eastern Europe and Cyprus, and we all took a tour of Israel together as well. I will cherish the places we saw together and the time we shared through those experiences.
When we were living in Budapest, Hungary, Mom and Dad came for a visit. We rented a van and just took off down the road. We traveled through Hungary to Austria, visiting Vienna and Salzburg. Then we went up through Czech Republic to Prague, through Slovokia, and then back to Budapest. It was an incredible time, full of historical sites, great food, wonderful family time, maps, and hotels.
On the last leg of the journey when we were leaving Prague, we traveled through the Eastern European countryside, and we finally came to the border crossing between Hungary and Slovakia. And for those of you who have visited ex-Communist countries, you know that sometimes the feeling of the old regime, the old Soviet-style of government still exists. This is especially true at border crossings.
When Communism reigned across the Soviet States, crossing borders was a very big deal. Every person, every car, every passport was checked several times. Somehow the guards made you feel guilty for who knows why. For Americans, who know nothing of the retraints of Communism, these checks can be weird or even scary.
When we came to the border between Czeck Republic and Hungary on way home, we were detained. It was innocent, but the detention bothered dad a bit. We could see the line ahead of us that separated the two countries, yet we waited and waited. Then suddenly when the guard nodded that we could proceed through the crossing, dad exclaimed to Wayne who was driving, “Burn rubber! Burn rubber!” as we crossed the border into Hungary. That border crossing was behind us, and we were free to return home.
We laughed so hard at Dad’s colorful language and animation about crossing the border.
Well, Dad has crossed the border from this earth into his heavenly home. He has cast off all the restraints of the old regime–he has thrown off his ailing body, his age, his limitations in this life. And he has embraced his real home–heaven–the place that God has prepared for him. His family has met him at the door with joy. He is free to dance before the throne in heaven, to thank the living God for sending Jesus to redeem Him of his sins.
Yes, Dad just crossed the border. And in his crossing, I cheer him on as a champion in Christ!
Because that world is so much better than this one, I exclaim in his crossing, “Burn rubber, Dad, burn rubber!”