Have you ever met someone you immediately liked or disliked? My late brother Mark (RIP) once told me there are three different levels when it comes to discerning the character of people we first meet.
If I remember correctly;
- The first level - is where most of us are at, we are not able to discern whether or not someone is good or bad person, we take people at their word.
- The second level - we may have some inkling of a person characters when first meeting them. Not very many people are at this level.
- The third level - we are able to instantaneously discern a person character - good or bad - from the very first moment we meet them. Very, very few people are at this level.
I am definitely on the first level when it comes to discerning a person's character when I first meet them. They could tell me any lie and I will believe them. I have to get to know a person a while before I can figure out his or her character - and than it is too late if that person is a scoundrel. However, every now and then I am able to discern a person's character when I first meet them. Such was the case when my good friend Carol Davis first introduced me to her mother Emma. Although it was the first time I met Emma and the meeting was short I remember thinking,
"I hope this woman never gets mad at me".
I mean you could just "feel" the strength of her character. It was almost like I had already known Emma before I met her and in a way I had. She reminded me of some the elders I knew as a child. They were tough, strong; indomitable old Indians that you just naturally respected from the moment you met them. You did not lie to them or try to pull a fast one on those old Indians. When they gave you advice or scolded you; you stayed still and listened -you did not talk back to them. At the same time because of the strength of their character they were extremely comforting to be around. I instantaneously discerned Emma had all these traits and more.
The next time I met her was when I was invited to her home shortly after my son Joel had died in a car accident. For only meeting me once Emma showered me with so much kindness I was overwhelmed. She did not say much but she did not have to, her sensitively to my grief was on her face, in the few words she did say and her gestures were extremely comforting. She showered me with attention and gifts. Her kindness and the compassion she felt for my son whom she had never met had a healing effect on the pain I felt at his death and actually helped my grief for my son subside for a couple of hours.
Therefore, I was very happy when Carol asked me to do a eulogy for Emma. In fact, I could have not been more honored. My only concern was that I would not be able to do justice to a truly great lady in the short time that I would be speaking. Although I am no stranger to public speaking I am never really comfortable speaking in public. Still I was not prepared for how nervous I was when I arrived at the wake. I text my son Marshall and told him how nervous I was and he texts me back:
"You will do a good job [dad]. I really like the way you are able to get up and speak before a crowd without writing anything down. You were right it has to come from your heart [dad]."
Marshall was referring to an early conversation I had with him concerning what to say before I left for the wake. Even with my son's encouragement I was really nervous when I went up to speak. However, once I stood behind the pulpit and looked over the crowd of Emma's family, relatives and friends I felt so proud to be standing there ready to pay tribute to a truly great lady a "strange" calm came over me that I did not even have to look at my notes. What I said came straight from my heart. To put it in another way, in a sense I felt I was speaking directly to Emma's spirit, maybe that is why my fear of speaking in front of the congregation left me.
Although I felt I did a good job honoring Emma I know sometimes my words do not come out the way I want them to. So when when I finished speaking I felt that some people in the crowd may not have understood or misheard my words and not their true intentions and I was a little worried I may have offended someone. In closing, people have different beliefs what happens when we die. Some of us believe we go to the Spirit World and others believe we go to Heaven or some other place. I will be the first to admit I do not know what the Spirit World is like but I do know Emma is with her husband Frank and is happy. Although she misses this world and her children and grand children, she knows where she is meant to be at, at this time in her existence and is contented. That is what thanked the Creator for when I prayed beside her casket; that Emma was with her beloved husband Frank. Emma was a good Catholic who believed in Heaven. Because she lived her Catholic beliefs I know she was rewarded and is now is Heaven with her Creator.