During his final days, my brother Larry repeatedly tried to get all of us to rally not just around him but each other. He did this from his recliner and hospital bed. Did we hear Larry? Are we doing what he asked?
Did my niece, nephew and I really hear the final request of their father, my brother?
Because I am blind, I was not allowed to be a pallbearer of my brother Larry.
Two of my brother’s children organized his funeral.
During the only family planning meeting, I asked, “Who would be pallbearer?” I asked for that honor.
My niece said that choice had already been made.
She told me the funeral home recommended to not have somebody who is blind be pallbearer. . . Pallbearers have already been chosen.
My nephew stated it was church policy that a blind person not be pallbearer.
I called a church representative and asked her if it was indeed true, the church policy excluded a blind person as pallbearer. That representative called me back. She had contacted, on her own initiative, the funeral home and the lead minister of the church. She called me back within 15 minutes of my phone call.
No, she said, there was no such policy. The funeral home and the church have no problem with a blind person as pallbearer.
I asked, did my brother Larry request me to not be pallbearer?
No, said my niece, he had not.
My older brother was asked to be pallbearer, but not me. I felt such pain around this as to not be allowed to walk with my brother to carry the body of our beloved Larry through the people in the pews of that holy hall before God.
During that same family meeting, my response was blunt—I was wounded to have been rejected as pallbearer.
Regardless, I’d do my part during the funeral to the best of my ability.
I did not walk as a pallbearer with another brother to carry the body of our brother Larry on that final journey. I delivered the recited prayers I was asked to give and I believe that was done perfectly.
Was there a much deeper reason why I was not chosen as pallbearer? Some members of my family did not allow me to carry the casket of my beloved brother because of their perception that I am imperfect because of my blindness.
Who among us is perfect? Is that not up to God to decide?
The hurt is deep in me from the actions of some members of my family. Regardless, I recited the four prayers before the funeral mass. I made the pauses where the tears welled up inside of me. I let my voice pour forth and not my tears.
My poem below is a reminder to all of us to put aside petty perceptions of the holier-than-thou mentality. All of us have a God-given responsibility to encourage and to allow each unique individual to share any gift of tribute through love, unrestricted, regardless of physical condition.
I am blind. Even with my God-given disability,
I am perfect as far as God is concerned.
Ultimately, all of us are here to do God’s work the best way we can. Let’s pull together and let the beauty in each person shine–to not be dimmed by negative prejudice and perception.
Pull Together: Walk The Talk
My brother Larry, from the comfort of his recliner
Told us all “we got to pull together”
These, the words of a man dying from cancer.
There is not a struggle and desire much finer
Then to share that love, while in the throngs of a stormy death, with one another
And to carry the torch by all who will continue, to answer.
To affirm that wish to unite from our dear oldest brother
Whose dying wish we need to make come true
Did not Christ state in Biblical pages?
Let go the petty and support each other
From Larry’s lofty place with Jesus in heaven do
That divine decree to follow in all our life stages.
As stated in a Christian prayer
“Let us pray to the Lord that individuality will be respected”
Peel back the onion of discontent, layer by layer
Pick up the plow put down the sword
And live out all the days of our lives as a family connected.
We children of God must not let familial dysfunction
Form, frame and mold us while we are on this earth
Violent winds and stormy seas may push and pull, but there
Is also the choice for peace, love and harmony at every junction
To walk that talk from birth to death and death to birth.
We come from the womb and go to our grave with hands and words of care.
God’s love matters, not the sight in eyes, not the wealth within our pockets.
The true legacy to leave behind is to heed God’s call
As we end our nights and start our days
Remove the gold rings, diamond necklaces and expensive lockets.
When pallbearers carry me through holy halls
Let all recall that tribute to
Jesus we recite together and pray.
Clarence Schadegg is an Access Press contributing writer.
Hello Clarence, I wanted to send a message to let you know how sorry to hear of your brother’s passing. Your brother was looking down from heaven above smiling because your words were said with eliquence. You are a better man for setting your differences aside for the sake of your brother. What a loving and courageous gester on your part. It shows that you are a good man with big heart!
Your poem is poignant and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story and your love for your brother.