The numbers 92 and 140 don’t usually go together. Especially when they represent the age of the deceased and the number of people attending the memorial service. After age 85 the number of people who still knew that person and feel a close connection declines rapidly. For most people who pass away in their nineties, if there is a memorial service at all, it draws only a handful of people.
Those two numbers did come together in January when we had a celebration of the life of Shirley Thomson. I can suggest two reasons why that second number was so high.
The first, of course, is Shirley’s quality of life. She didn’t act her age! Even into her tenth decade of life she continued to be actively involved in the community and in so many of our lives. For example, you may not know she was still providing bookkeeping for a number of clients! Shirley maintained relationships with people of all ages.
I could say many things about this woman who was a dear friend of mine, but let’s just get to the heart of the matter. She was a woman of faith. Her deep faith in God was the foundation and guiding principle of her life. It made all the difference in the way she faced life and in the way she faced death.
The second reason so many people came to her memorial is the nature of our little community. We are a close-knit community. We know each other. We’re in each other’s homes. We care about each other.
I could say a lot of things about this community, but let’s just get to the heart of the matter. We are a community of love. The love is always here, but it’s especially evident when there’s a death in the community.
Faith and love. There’s usually a third companion between those two, which is hope. Appropriately, along with those other two, hope was a primary theme of Shirley’s memorial service. There were a few tears, even a few of my own. But because of Shirley’s faith, our underlying attitude was hope. It was a wonderful farewell to a wonderful woman.