On Friday, I attended a memorial for yet another of our church members. This man was relatively young…under seventy. Unlike other memorials we’ve had, this was very sparsely attended, because Andy tended to be somewhat of a loner since his parents died a few years ago. He was devoted to his parents and especially his mother after his father passed. He brought her to church every Sunday, wheeling her up to the front of the church where she could see and hear everything, even though she was far from understanding anything. You see, she had Alzheimer’s Disease. But that didn’t stop Andy from being the attentive son he always was. His parents were the only family he had here in Canada, though I’ve been told there were a few cousins in Holland.
Although none of us at the service felt we knew the man very well, in his meditation, our Pastor made it possible to get a glimpse into Andy’s lonely life. He spoke of his dedication as a teacher, his political affiliations, his generosity, his devotion to his parents. Andy donated and dedicated several hymn books to the church in memory of his parents. I opened one on Sunday with his name in it. Even though Andy’s ashes were in plain view, awaiting interment in our cemetery, it was Andy the man who occupied my mind during Friday’s ceremony.
I could see him sitting in a back pew or even in the Narthex, slightly disheveled, but attentive. Very seldom did he mingle after service for coffee or tea as most of us did. He came, he worshiped, he left…or so it seemed. (In case you’re wondering how I could see him sitting at the back of the church, I’m in the choir facing the congregation.)
There is a a saying that someone can be conspicuous by their absence…that was Andy on Friday, and the weeks previous to his death. He died peacefully in his sleep one night and save for Jesus, he died alone.