There have been parties. Not on the exact day of my birthday anniversary, but on Friday eve when Rhoda’s sister Betty and her husband Cary Kelsy invited me to dine with them at The Olive Garden.  Below are the cards received.  The one was signed by the waiter staff and the other by Betty and Cary.


Between the birthday parties there was a celebration of an entirely different kind. The life of a young woman of 52 years had ended several days ago, and several hundred of her friends gathered to celebrate a life well lived. Her name was Brenda Jones, and her sister, Ann Jacobs, works with Rachel at Mission Network. Ann came with Rachel to Forks soon after Rhoda and I  arrived from the South.  Ann is an African American and she  gave me the first hug in Indiana by a non-relative.

I said to one of the women at Forks that those women who came with Rachel are from the South and they know how to hug.  She said, do you miss hugs? and I said yes, and immediately got the first of many hugs from Fork’s sisters.

So, I feel indebted to Ann, and I knew as soon as I heard that her sister had died that I wanted to go to the funeral. So Rachel, Eldon, and I drove to South Bend an hour early which should have been ample time for the viewing and visitation.  The parking lot of the church was already full, and many cars were parked on both sides of the street.  We stood in line for an hour before we were able to meet the family.  I was about the last in the line before it was cut off for the service to begin. But I was  able to greet Ann with a hug.  She told Rachel in person and by email about how glad she was that she had brought me.

For the next three hours the service was filled with song, prayers, tributes,  scripture reading, and exhortation.  Looking at the people crowded into the auditorium I concluded that if there is a heaven and only believers are allowed in, that the majority in heaven will be people of color.  Judgeing by my feelings in that earthly auditorium I will be comfortable as a member of the minority in heaven. Surely, if there is a heaven, someone up there will have taught me to dance.

We hurried home in order to be ready for the next party composed of our family.  This included twelve people gathered at Peterson’s resturant in Goshen.  They brought cards.

IMG_0087Too many to be included here, although I tried.  Rachel had found a box of greeting cards under Rhoda’s bed.  They were new, and cute.  So she distributed them among the family, and they signed them and gave them to me.. It might be thought that Rhoda was there to wish me a long and happy life.

IMG_0107My friend and I believe that our spouses wish us well, and we often speak of them to each other.  Here is what my friend on earth wishes for me, and I wish the same for her.  Parties are an important part of life.

On Sunday evening my friend and  I went to CMC together to a beautifully done program provided by the childnre.  I also met one of her daughters for the first time.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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2 Responses to Parties

  1. JaMia Jones says:

    Thank you so much attending my mother’s home-going celebration. The celebration was filled with God’s spirit from the beginning to the end; and to be honest I am still blessed today by it today! I’m glad you enjoyed every moment of it. Continue to keep our family in your prayers.

    Peace and Blessings,

    JaMia Jones

  2. Sandy Miller says:

    Hi Martin,

    I work at Mennonite Mission Network and was at Ann’s sister’s funeral also this past Saturday. I was very aware of the Holy Spirit moving in that place as the service focused on God’s good work. God’s good work in Brenda, in her family, in her congregation, in her work place, in her community, etc. Sunday morning worship should remind us of God’s good work too and the service felt like a foretaste of heaven. I, for one, plan to be around the heavenly throne dancing and celebrating too. – Sandy Miller

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