Now, to this week's tribute. I call it:
It has been just over a year since my sister's husband Frank passed away. We got the call on New Year's Eve day, 2006. I felt a cannonball go through my heart. We all loved Frank and when a death is as unexpected as his was the emotions jumble up and shock sets in. Once sorted out, my thoughts first went to our sister --- our baby sister. She has taken many blows in her life and, though strong, this was going to be her toughest. Jerry and I hurriedly made arrangements and drove the 1600 miles to get there as quickly as we could. Though a couple of days had already passed, the shock hadn't. Tears continually flooded our eyes, keeping everything in a surreal, underwater blur.
Apparently because of the holiday, or just because God had different plans, Patty was not able to reach their church pastor. However, the church that nurtured us as kids, once again cradled the family in this sorrowful time of need. Morningside Lutheran Church in Sioux City, IA has been home to many wonderful pastors in it's long history, many became life-long friends. The congregation is now blessed to have Pastor Kevin Lee. When he got the call that Frank's family was in need he immediately put all on his shoulders, bringing calm and soothing the sorrow. Pastor Kevin had met Frank only once, but he remembered that meeting. Frank was unforgettable. First, Kevin had gathered several of the family members in his office to make arrangements. To begin, Kevin wanted us to just talk about Frank. So we all shared how Frank touched us, how he made people laugh, and how big his heart was. After a couple of hours we couldn't sort the tears of sorrow from the tears of laughter. Kevin's leading us through this time of remembrance, just the few of us, was inspired. Not only did we feel we had been able to embrace Frank once more, but we again felt embraced by Morningside Lutheran --- and their Pastor Kevin. There was no doubt that the services would be wonderful.
Indeed, on the day of Frank's funeral, the church was packed, the flowers were incredible, and the long familiar sanctuary was, indeed, a place of peace. Interestingly, the lights were kept brightly lit, not dimmed. Kevin delivered a message about Frank as though he had known him and his family for many years. Drawing from stories we told him a couple of days before, he reconstructed in touching detail the life of Frank Fisher. This time the congregation was nodding in amused agreement and sobbing in sorrow at the loss of a dear father, husband, friend, and colleague. Kevin facilitated a celebration of life on earth and rejoicing for life everlasting. I have never attended a funeral or memorial service in which the pastor laid such a blanket of peace over such heartache. I can even say, it was a service that was over too quickly.
This in itself would be a nice tribute to a pastor who assisted during a week of mourning. But, I'm not finished. That's because Kevin didn't stop with the service. Like so many Morningside Lutheran pastors before him, has become a member of the family. Before we left the church Kevin had Patty tucked tightly under his wing. I must say that my sister is somewhat stubborn and self-sufficient (sorry Patty), but this was going to be a very hard time for her. Kevin and the church's resources were at the ready to help her emotional needs as well as unfinished work to be done at her house. Patty had found her spiritual home once again, and she was warmly welcomed. During the past year Kevin has watched over her, not hovered; another angel has revealed himself. The church members have donated time and talent to help at the house, without expecting anything in return; yet more angels. Also, Patty's 1-year-old grandson was baptized by Kevin. Little Zander is an angel and a miracle himself. Miracles have happened for Patty, showing her that she is not alone here. Some of those miracles happened because God smiles on people like Kevin and his church members. But some of those miracles happened because Frank is smiling on all of them.
Thank you, Kevin.