God in Youth and Old Age

James Tonkowich | ReligionToday.com Columnist | Wednesday, June 6, 2012

God in Youth and Old Age

Whenever I attend a funeral, one text of Scripture always comes to mind. And it was no different last week at the funeral for my mother, Anne.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” advises the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 12:1. Then he uses a series of metaphors to describe the maladies of old age. Remember your Creator, he says, before all these set in, as they did for my mom who died at 86.

In my mother’s youth when she had two little boys following her around, she told my dad that she thought my brother and I should be in church every Sunday. He agreed. “Just don’t wake me up on your way out.”

At some point, either my brother Greg or I announced that if Dad didn’t have to get up and go to church, surely it was unreasonable to expect us to get up and go to church.

The next Sunday — and every Sunday thereafter — we drove to church with Dad at the wheel.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”

The night before the funeral, we dined on Coq au Vin, the last mom-meal we’ll ever eat. An outstanding cook, Mom had made one of her favorites and frozen enough for the next party. We and a few other family members enjoyed her culinary and hostess skills one last time.

Cooking is part of my mom’s legacy. My brother and I are both excellent cooks, catching the vision and learning the tricks from our mom — and Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. My son Jon, who is her only grandchild, caught the vision too and Mom’s legacy continues.

She was also a great traveler, always planning the next trip. She and my dad explored much of he world together and, after he died, she traveled on alone, with friends or with family. My wife Dottie and my daughter-in-law Emily grew up in families that stayed closer to home, but both of them walked up the aisle with valid passports. They knew that travel was part of the family legacy that began with my mom and my dad.

The funeral was in Florida and Jon and Emily who live in Wyoming were unable to attend. Mom’s great-grandchild is due any day now.

The baby is more of a mystery than many. Jon and Emily chose not to know whether it’s a boy or a girl so we don’t know either. And while they’ve chosen names, they haven’t shared those choices with anyone. Boy or girl; Ben, Andy, Sally, Beth — we don’t know.

But this we know with certainty: on July 3, he or she will be baptized and will begin the pilgrimage of faith his or her great-grandmother just completed, a pilgrimage of faith in the love and grace of the Father, in communion with Christ and his Church, and guided by the Holy Spirit.

The Coq au Vin was excellent as have been thousands of other meals made by my mother or made as a result of her legacy. And while the world may not have been her oyster (and it’s a good thing since she hated oysters), she saw a great deal of it as has her family. For all these things and many other things, we are grateful.

But her greatest legacy is the one we’ll celebrate at the baptismal font on July 3. She remembered her Creator in the days of her youth and for that we will be eternally grateful.

Publication date: June 6, 2012