Arriving early at the funeral home the next day, I began speaking with various members of the family. As a rule, the time before a service is helpful for listening to stories, gathering details that help make the service more personal. Fortunately, three members of the family volunteered to speak and share their memories about Bette, a beloved mother, grandmother, and aunt. I learned that Bette had been a military wife, the U.S. Air Force, with all the rigors of constant relocation and travel. She held a family together during those years and still found time to volunteer with several organizations. She was very prim and proper, maintaining an immaculate house, but always made visitors feel welcome, and, as her nieces stated, “we knew that when visiting Aunt Bette, we could “eat, drink, and be merry.” She loved reading and was especially proud of her collection of Hummels. I began to relax and concentrate on the message of comfort from the Scriptures.
Standing near a table of pictures of Bette, and mementos provided by the family, was her son, Lee. Pointing to a very beautiful and intricate figurine, he told me the story of this Hummel, called the “Ark.”
Lee had also been a member of the Air Force, and being separated from his parents, had made a habit of calling each Sunday afternoon to check on them. One Sunday he called and noticed that his mother was not her usual self, but curt and abrupt. He didn’t think much about it, but the next Sunday she acted the same. When his father got on the phone he asked his dad if there was a problem, that his mother seemed angry with him.
“Son,” his dad said, “you forgot your mother’s birthday.”
“Oh no,” Lee had said. “Do you know of anything I can do to get back in her good graces?” His dad had said one word.
And so Lee asked his mother to pick out a Hummel she wanted and let him know. The next week he received in the mail a page torn from a catalog with a picture of a Hummel circled. He got out the order form and began filling it in. When he looked at the price his eyes dilated. It was $999.00. Here on the table sat that very figurine.
I looked at him and said, “No wonder they called her “grand-mother!”
© 2008, John C. Fitts, III. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted from Grace Drops, Volume 6 (2008).