Although as rarely as it occurs, the material for The Saturday Funnies ran a little thin this week, which is a good thing because I’ve waited a long time for the chance to share this story. It is also fitting that right on the heels of Valentine’s Day, while there are still fresh chocolates in the box, this is even a better fit. Today’s centerpiece is a bit too long to be coupled with our usual bouquet of shorter funnies but, as you will find, it is good enough to almost stand alone. A hurried search on Google was unable to reveal the name of the author but I believe when I first read it there was a note saying she and her husband were now living happily in Florida. When you read this wonderful account from a grieving daughter who is burying her mother, you will see yet another instance how a loving God can turn a thorn into a rose.
Curiously, in this week’s video you’ll see a great character of a curmudgeon reveal his warmer side … but you’ll have to stick with the video until the end.
* * *
THE WRONG FUNERAL WAS THE RIGHT PLACE
I was at the funeral of my dearest friend, my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense; I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held the box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life.
When mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27-year-old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her. I counted it an honor.
'What now, Lord?' I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband's shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child. All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone.
My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together. Now she was with the Lord...My work was finished, and I was alone. I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick footsteps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle.
"I'm late," he explained, though no explanation was necessary.
After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, "Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of Margaret?''
"Because, that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary, no one called her Mary,'" I whispered.
I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other side of the church. He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway?
"Isn't this the Lutheran church?"
"No, the Lutheran church is across the street."
"I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir."
The solemnness of the occasion mixed with the realization of the man's mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He was laughing too, as he glanced around, deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined Mother laughing.
At the final 'Amen,' we darted out a door and into the parking lot. "I believe we'll be the talk of the town," he smiled.
He said his name was Rick and, since he had missed his aunt's funeral, asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place. A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time.
In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, God gave me love. This past June, we celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them, 'Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it's truly a match made in heaven.'
* * *
‘RABBI, WHERE DID I GO WRONG?’
Menachim, a Jewish father was troubled by the way his son, Benjamin, had turned out, and went to see Rabbi Goldberg about it.
'I brought Benjamin up in the faith, gave him a very expensive bar mitzvah; it cost me a fortune to educate him, then he tells me last week he has decided to be a Christian. Rabbi, where did I go wrong?' pleaded Menachim.
'Funny, Menachim, that you should come to me,' commented Rabbi Goldberg. 'Like you I, too, brought my boy up in the faith, put him through University; that cost me a fortune, then one day he, too, tells me he has decided to become a Christian.'
'What did you do?' inquired Menachim
'I turned to God for the answer,' replied the Rabbi.
'And what did He say?' pressed Menachim.
'God said, 'Funny you should come to Me ... '
* * *
And that sets up this week’s video and is it evermore a classic:
THE VIDEO OF THE WEEK – During the decade known as the 1970s, television was dominated by what is generally regarded as one of the best comedy series of all time, “All In the Family.” The show was dominated by Carroll O’Conner, who masterfully played “America’s Most Beloved Bigot,” and his bouts with his black neighbors, the Catholic family that lived across the street. and his live-in hippy son-in-law, “Meathead” hammered every subject Americans couldn’t talk about. Every show was “unsuitable for a U.S. network television comedy,” such as racism, antisemitism, infidelity, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, religion, miscarriages, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence. In other words, it led the Nielsen ratings for six straight years and to this day O’Connor. It also taught us how to laugh through our most sensitive personal conflicts and became a magnificent gift from producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin. One of Archie’s confederates in the early years was the character “Stretch Cunningham,” played by James Cromwell. During 1976, “Stretch” dies and Archie is asked to do his eulogy (or "urology" as he called it). None of us ever saw it coming! In the prelude to the funeral service there wasn’t the slightest hint so the TV audience was caught as completely off-guard as the shocked Archie was, which makes this video one of the most beloved in television history. Trust me, this look at us Americans almost 50 years ago is priceless. CLICK HERE.