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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)

TITLE: A tale of two funerals
By Sue Dent
05/11/06


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They pulled the plug at 3:01 P.M. and Henry Rutherford III was pronounced dead minutes later. His vast fortune hadn’t saved him. It couldn’t. Yet his family had put out an enormous amount of money to have the very best heart surgeon flown in. Henry’s heart just couldn’t take it.

* * *

Wilber Eubanks slipped quietly away, his family standing around his bedside as he did. “Love you, pops,” his youngest son Will whispered as the heart monitor beeped slower.
“Peace be with you,” his precious wife prayed as she leaned to kiss him on his forehead. “I should have known you’d make good on your promise to go first. You better not tear heaven apart before I get there.”
“We’ll never forget you,” his second oldest granddaughter boasted.
The monitor straight-lined and was then disconnected.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him look more content,” Will remarked.
His mother nodded. “Indeed.”

* * *

“We want the most expensive coffin you have,” Ray Rutherford announced proudly. “My father worked hard for what he had and we want him to go in style. Yes, the most expensive coffin you have and nothing less.”

* * *

“Nothing fancy,” Will told the funeral home attendant. “We could probably afford it and if we couldn’t, God would provide but Pop would come back in a second if he knew we’d buried him in anything other than the cheapest thing we could buy.”

* * *

“What do you mean St. Paul’s isn’t available? It’s the only place large enough to handle the crowds that are sure to show.” He looked perturbed as the voice on the other end of his cell explained further. “Well, I don’t care who has it booked, I’ll pay whatever it takes to get it. And we want the service outside in the gardens.”

* * *

“That’s fine,” Will said as the women on the phone explained that they’d have to put the funeral service off until later that afternoon. “It’s just a formality anyway and we’re just glad the church is letting us use the facility. Who’d a thought they’d extend such gratitude to a janitor?”

* * *

The clouds grew thicker and just when they thought they’d make it through the service, the bottom fell out. Ray Rutherford, and everyone else, was forced inside by the biggest rainstorm in over a month. Flower arrangements were picked up by the wind and tossed about while upset mourners dove inside the church for cover. Ray clutched his chest as the weight of the day seemed to come down on him at once.

* * *

The storm had cooled everything off, the humidity was gone. Will took a deep breath. “Smell that,” he said to his wife. “That’s why Pop always came out here after a good rain. He said nothing smelled sweeter.”
She smiled. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day? Isn’t it funny how things work out?”

* * *

“What do you mean I can’t get my money back? The rainstorm ruined the funeral! What’s wrong with this world when a man as prosperous as my father can’t get a decent funeral? I need that money!”

* * *

“Please take the money,” Will begged. “I feel like we owe you something. Sure, Pop worked for the church for nearly seventy years but you’ve got overhead and I know Pop would want you to take this.”

“You keep it. You never know when you might need it,” the chaplain said.

Will smiled, put the bills in the Chaplain’s hand and closed his fist around it. “The day I start worrying about money is the day I stop believing in God. I’ve never been richer.”


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This article has been read 741 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 05/19/06
I was waiting for you to tell us that Wilbur was the janitor in Henry's church and that old Henry got bumped out into the rain because the jailor got "first rights" in the church. And maybe that's what happened. In any case, I like the comparisons. This was well done.
Sherry Wendling05/19/06
Great concept, and you brought it off with clarity and heart. I especially like the thunderstorm, and what it brought out in people. The deceased janitor really came alive to me. Excellent writing. A real treat!
Joe Moreland05/20/06
An excellent story and illustration of how each man leaves something to his sons when he dies, and I'm not talking about money.
Jan Ackerson 05/22/06
I really like the parallel structure here. Good job!
Rita Garcia05/23/06
Creative comparison, strong message revealing the true meaning of prosperity.

Blessings, Rita
Marilyn Schnepp 05/23/06
Although not the cheeriest of subject matter - I liked this very much! A great point was made, and a couple of tears fell from my eyes. Nicely done.
Val Clark05/23/06
Clear teaching on true prosperity and generosity of spirit in a strangely light hearted way! :-) Worked for me.
Beth Muehlhausen05/23/06
Nicely done contrasts, here. Made me wonder what the rest of the family legacies on both sides were like....even generations after these funerals. Good job!!
Beth Muehlhausen05/23/06
Nicely done contrasts, here. Made me wonder what the rest of the family legacies on both sides were like....even generations after these funerals. Good job!!