three thousand one hundred and twenty~

Brad Richardson

April 30th, 2010


Finish Line Ministry

I played music for a Memorial Service this morning. It’s a quarterly thing that happens at a local retirement community. As I pulled up, I had to maneuver my old van around two fire trucks and an ambulance. It’s a regular occurrence at these places. Fire trucks and ambulances. As the automated front doors swung open for me, I watched some of the residents sitting in the lobby area observing the scene in the parking lot. I wondered what they must think…how it must feel to sit there and watch the same scene repeat itself; emergency vehicles racing in, sirens wailing. What kind of feelings must they have?  Watching friends die.  All the while knowing the next wail could be for them?  I’m reminded that a godly lady once told me that I am called to the “Finish Line Ministry.”  I could imagine no other place where the ‘finish line’ were so clear as here.

The memory of her words inspires me. “Finish Line Ministry.” I like that. It gives me direction, clarity and renewed vision. It reminds me that I am called to love others with the gift of music entrusted to me. I am a Musicianary.”

Get Up Already!

We are memorializing 18 people this morning. For each one of them the staff offers a rose to the family members or friends that are present. At one point, Chaplain Nate (with Vistacare Hospice – great folks) gives an opportunity for people to say something about their loved one. “If anyone would like to say something about one of these dear loved ones, now is the time to do that,” says Nate.

So this old guy speaks up quite boldly, “Yes I would!” Did I mention that this guy was old?  He stood up from the second row. That took a while. With the help of the chairs in front of him for support, he makes his way to the front of the small room. He moves with confidence. Very slowconfidence…really…very slow. It was a long time before he got to the end of his row of chairs.  Considering the effort, I am thinking that this old timer has something very important to say about someone very important to him.

“My Outstanding Wife”

We hold our breath as Alfred makes it past the table with the roses on it, which thankfully holds his shaky hand as he passes by. He tells us that we need to know how outstanding his wife was. That he was married to her for over 60 years. How she was born in the early 1900’s and put herself through college to become an outstanding teacher. What anoutstanding orator she was. How good with her hands she was. Now I realize why it was so important for him to move to the front of the room to speak. He did it out of respect for his now departed beloved. He said that he really appreciated the rose that was given in her honor because it reminded him of the fact that every week he would place a single sweetheart rose on his bride’s dresser. Every week. No note. No card. Just a single rose. A “sweetheart” rose. Did I mention every week? For 60 years. If you have not already done the math then let me help you. Three Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty roses. He spoke of her with such respect and honor. I had to start wiping the strange moisture that was forming in my eyes so I could see this old timer clearly. And so did everyone else in the room. Later, after the service was finished I overheard him telling someone that he did not realize how outstanding she was until after she was gone.

Three Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty. I think that today I will pause and ponder how outstanding my wife is. And my friends. And my kids. And my family. My mother. And I think I will remember how blessed I was today to be able to hear Alfred’s sweetheart rose story. I’ll give thanks that I was able to sing a song to these folks today.

I’ll write more later. I’m going to the florist shop now.

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