Feb 15, 2013
February 15, 2012
I arrived at the service 45 minutes early hoping to catch some time with Marcene. Evidently, many others had the same idea as the parking lot was full and the line was out the door.
The first thing that I noticed were two ladies, unkept and obese with their ball caps on sideways making their way up the ramp to the door. I smiled as I remembered how Ned had always reached out to the unreached....the ones that others didn't...the ones harder to love for most of us. It was one of he and Marcene's greatest qualities.
Once inside the building, we could see where the line was going. Marcene was placed just past her daughter, Lynette and was greeting each and every person with a hug. I watched as she loved them individually. I smiled and turned to Judy, telling her that it might take a while.
Lynette was trying her best to keep the line going but knew the importance of the moment for her mom. I talked with her briefly but wish I could have had more time as I didn't feel our conversation went well. Sometimes the words in your mouth just don't come out right...and I felt this the case here.
Soon, it was our turn and I got my 'Marcene' hug. She smiled and remembered the boy who had the fishing hook out the side of his head. I laughed back and corrected her.....two times that had happened. I could have spent a while there but I wanted her to be able to see all of her friends so we went on in.
As we entered, I spoke with his twin brother, Ted who was in the back of the room. It was almost as if Ned were there amongst us. Knowing Ned, I could see the differences but the similarities were so striking given the day. The similar smile..the similar laugh.....the eyes.
We found a seat and waited watching all of the others around us. Other than the family, the only one that I noticed was Ron Haynes who I had grown up with. Ron had married Marcene's sister and had been the one who had called me first.
The service started just a bit late. I knew that it must have been because Marcene wished to see as many as possible. The pastor greeted us all. He seemed to be a friend of Ned's and I felt that might be the reason for the decision to have the service there. He told us who would be speaking and how they would not have an open mike as they would be there all day if they had ( I agreed with that assessment as I knew that all the souls in the building had been touched by this great man).
They had representatives from all of his churches starting out with Ron from ours. I enjoyed Ron's talk with the old Ron humor that I remembered from our youth. Ron spoke of an outing where we were roasting hot dogs over a fire and he had placed a fire cracker in the end of one. He spoke of Ned's anger over it. I recall the incident and Ned's displeasure but not the anger. I still don't recall him ever angry. I know he must have been from time to time but my memory probably pushed that aside.
The other churches were spoken well and I was especially taken by the story from the Longview church. A lady spoke while her husband stood next to her. He seemed nervous and out of place but I soon realized his reason for being there. The lady had been Ned's secretary and they had prayed for him for many years. Tragedy in their lives had brought Ned to be able to lead him to the only One who could repair his heart.
Lastly, Ted got up and spoke. I loved his dry humor and laughed with all on his stories of their youth together. I especially loved his stories of the time when I knew him and he and his wife, Mertie,were on furlough from his service overseas in Italy. Back then, their resemblence was so close that someone in Bend thought Ned was out with another woman.
Then the pastor got back up and spoke for a bit. My mind drifted as he spoke as I could not settle on his words. I had two many Ned thoughts on my mind and although I knew that Ned would want a sermon to be spoken, I found myself drifting and was glad when the kids took the stage.
I was so touched Torey and his rememberences of his dad. He struggled with his words not because he did not know what he wanted to say but because it was hard to say them. I know that I will have that same hard task one day and don't look forward to it.
Then the kids were joined by the rest of the family to sing a song. As they began to sing, tears welled up in my eyes and freely ran down my cheeks. For the simple song sang by his family stated his life better than any words could ever. The family sang "Jesus loves me". How poignant and how fitting.
The service over, Judy and I went back to the gym behind the church but only for a minute as we had to get on the road home. We were able to see his son, Toby who had called me on the phone and say goodbye to Ted.
As we drove away, Judy and I spoke of the service and what we had seen. We both agreed that the song from the family was just so right.....so fitting and beautiful.
I had been having a few bad days since hearing of his passing. It was if my life was somewhat out of balance. I remember sharing with Judy how I did not understand why it was affecting me so much. The service brought the word closure to me in a way that I had not understood it before. I will never forget this man who left and indelible imprint on my life. And the memory of his service....a celebration of his life....will stay there also.
I will keep the program as a remembrance also. The front cover of Ned standing there. The inside picture of Ned and Marcene. The back cover of a picture of him and his family. But below that another tribute. One that will always make me smile when I look at it. For Ned was an avid Oregon Duck fan and there was the Duck logo with the words "Go Ducks!". Once again, how fitting.