I recently attended a moving service for a woman I never met. Kathleen ________ was our son-in-law’s grandmother and had resided in a nursing home for the past decade—her memory eroded by age, her body crippled by arthritis.
People who live past 90, especially in a memory-care facility, tend to have small funeral services. Only a handful of friends and family survived Kathleen. Newer friends serving assignments as officers of the nursing home LDS branch conducted the brief service. No members of Kathleen’s immediate family are active LDS.
The branch president offered an opening prayer. A song, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” was sung and family and friends shared memories of Kathleen. No hymns, no sermon, no speculation about Kathleen’s eternal family reunion, just love—and gratitude that Kathleen had been taken home, wherever that might be, and was free from pain and suffering.
As family members shared memories of the person Kathleen had been—full of life and love and fun—the meaningfulness of her life touched me. Fame and fortune are not requisites for blessing the lives of others. I felt connected to Kathleen—as if I, too, had known her for years and spent time in her home. I felt connected to the branch presidency, their wives, and the Relief Society president—kind-hearted people who leave the comfort of their home wards for two or three years to minister to members in the twilight of life—members with little to give in return except gratitude.
How much God cares about our personal theology, our church attendance or our underwear, I can’t say. But I do believe we occasionally catch glimpses of his love and receive a brief vision of our connection to all his children and to all his creations.