Monday, December 8, 2008

A very touching and eye opening funeral.

Where do I start? Okay, a week ago (refer to previous post) a UPS driver was killed when someone made a left hand turn in front of him. As I said in that post also, I hear about fatalities unfortunately all the time, but this particular one really affected me. Not only did I feel a loss from the UPS family, but I also felt a strange connection to this man, almost as though I somehow knew him. Whatever the connection was, I definitely felt the loss. It's a strange feeling grieving for someone I don't know, yet somehow I do. I was talking to someone about this accident, and was commenting that all the tragic, untimely deaths lately are people that are kind, compassionate, service oriented people with huge hearts who put themselves before others. Have you noticed that in the news? My first impression of Alan (after hearing of his death), was "I'll bet that he had a heart of gold, and is one of those people who will leave an impression on those he knew, and will leave a legacy for those he loved." Until I went to his funeral, I had no idea how accurate that was, but even that thought didn't even come close to the type of man that was presented to us that day. I got a small glimpse at how Christlike he was when I read his obituary, but it was at the services when I learned truly how remarkable of a man he was.

As we pulled up to the Stake Center, we saw UPS's first symbol of gratitude towards this man's service. Out on the street was one of their big brown trucks, with a large banner that covered the windshield and wrapped around the side mirrors. On the banner was a picture of Alan that was taken at the UPS center, on a plaque that commemorated a 25 years of service milestone. On the grill was a wreath with brown ribbons, with his name on one, and then a license plate frame that said "In loving memory of Alan Christoffersen." A large majority of UPSers showed up in uniform to show respect to him. There were hundreds there. Nolan & I were lucky to make it there just in time to find a seat in the chapel, arriving a half hour early. The chapel quickly filled up, as did the cultural hall. By the time the services started, the cultural hall was packed, standing room only. I can only imagine the view from the pulpit: family, friends, I'm sure many of his customers on his route, and then a sea of brown. Nolan, and Rob (another UPSer sitting on the other side of me) were both in tears during the opening hymn. The spirit was so strong in there, even listening to the prelude, that I knew that a man of God was lying in the casket before us. I was brought to tears as well, as I could feel that the world was feeling the loss of a good man, yet the heavens were rejoicing the return of a faithful servant.

His children all gave beautiful and touching tributes, as did his daughter in law & his wife. From those talks (without too much detail), I learned that he put God first in his life, and centered himself and God with his family. He was diligent with his scripture study, family home evening, & even held four callings, in which he was thankful for the opportunities to be of service. One of the callings being the nursery leader, and he LOVED that calling. (He MUST have a heart of gold to love nursery.) His sweet wife was saying that he would read during his lunch break, then for FHE, he'd start the family discussions by talking about the things that had impressed him during his reading throughout the week. She said that UPS brought her all his items from the truck, and among those was a stack of magazines about 8" tall, consisting of Ensigns, New Era's, Church News & even Friend magazines. All marked up, highlighted, & notes made where impressions were made. Also a set of scriptures. One daughter told us that she was complaining about a class she was taking, and was wanting to drop out because the teacher was next to impossible to deal with. His comment to her was along the lines of "You will not benefit from something that doesn't take work and sacrifice to accomplish it." His Bishop read a few comments from the KSL message boards, both from people on his route. One person was telling about a time that she was out trying to shovel her sidewalk & driveway, but was having an extremely difficult time because of some injury or illness. Alan saw her struggling, pulled over, and took 20 minutes of his time to shovel for her. (Which considering was during the Holiday peak time, was a big sacrifice on his part.) Another customer on his route mentioned that the way that Alan composed himself, and the spirit he emulated, said to him that Alan was truly wanting to live a quality life. Another thing his wife said that moved me was "Women, cook for your husbands. Cherish them." And also "I want you all to know that we hold absolutely no malice or anger towards the driver of the dump truck. Please keep him in your prayers. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him, and he and his family are dealing with a lot of pain. I couldn't imagine having to live with that." I am sure she was referring to not only a physical recovery, but also the pain and heartache of knowing he was the cause of the death. How does a heart ever heal from something like that? I don't think it ever does. He will forevermore hold that pain and regret in his heart, and yet, she has forgiven him and is showing love and mercy towards him. Those comments touched me deeply.

There was so so so much more said, I couldn't possibly repeat it all. But it really did get me thinking. What kind of life am I leading right now? Am I living what I want to be remembered by right now? It brings a significant meaning to the phrase "Live each day as if it were your last." That does not suggest being careless and avoiding responsibility. No. Instead, leave the house each morning with a huge hug and an I love you. Whenever you speak to somebody, pay them a compliment, or an expression of gratitude for something they've done for you. Go out of your way to be of service to somebody, even if it's simply opening the door if their hands are full. Don't speak negatively about other people. Smile. Make sure there are no loose ends, no unsaid apologies. I know that I struggle in that, but I am striving to be a better person, one that will be remembered as kind and thoughtful, selfless and compassionate, caring and nurturing. I hope to be able to bless people's lives in one way or another. I was truly blessed by Alan's. I never met him, but he did bless me by being the type of man he was, by setting an example. By showing me how many lives were touched because of his disposition, and his kind spirit.

I have a lot to work towards.

The UPS truck, minus the banner.

The sea of brown out on the lawn by the church.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Wow what a neat experience that must have been to go to his funeral. He seems like an amazing man.

Its weird to think about if you died, who would be at your funeral, what would be said...

Thats cool that they all wore their uniforms.

I also like the part where the wife said to cook for your husband and to cherish them.

Thanks for posting this!