Today, we went to a double funeral.
Uncle Jim and Aunty Gladys were the last of my ‘church’ aunts and uncles who’d known me since I was a baby. They were married for 71 years and did everything together.
They met at a Christmas Day party in 1936 and Gladys turned up in a gorgeous dress…but avoided the fruit on the buffet because she didn’t want to get juice on her frock. Jim, hearing of the terrible dress dilemma, peeled her an orange and shared it with her.
And as it does, Love kinda happened and every year on Christmas Day, they shared an orange, to remember the day they met. When asked the secret to a happy marriage, they both thought it was about friendship…respect and loving each other, even when they didn’t feel like it.
And all the girls say… ‘Aaawww’
When Aunty Glad died about 10 days ago, the family went to the nursing home to gently break the news to Uncle Jim and he said, ‘Well, I won’t be hanging around for long either’. And 4 days later, he passed away too.
Lovely, sweet story but beyond their love for each other, was an even bigger love for people, for Jesus and for church.
They were the founders of the church that I grew up in, they were at every meeting, responsible for the ‘open airs’ and the ‘revivals’ that used to happen every year without fail. They had missionaries from far flung places stay in their home and they loved and prayed for everyone who crossed their paths, from me to ex offenders, to their grandchildren and great, great grandchild.
They were involved in the Pentecostal Spanish mission and I don’t think they ever missed a service at Halton Pentecostal church where I grew up.
When I arrived in church as a kid with my picture Bible and pulled-up socks, it was always a reassuring sight to see Aunty Glad (as always) on the front row, in her felt grey hat. Uncle Jim, as an elder, always sat on the platform, but they both always had a kind word and a hug for everyone they saw.
Today’s service was a celebration of two lives lived incredibly well…of love for each other, commitment and shared oranges.
And, as they took the coffins out of the church, everyone sang this old, old song: I have a mansion
What a day!
Farewell Uncle Jim & Aunty Gladys.