I was supposed to be studying for exams. I was supposed to be ordering flowers. I was supposed to be to my final dress fitting. I was supposed to be tallying up RSVPs. There was so much that I thought I was supposed to be doing.
Planning a funeral was not one of them.
My creative energies have never been tested so much. This memorial needed to represent my father. I focused on the details, finding jobs to keep the family focused on remembering this great man. I guess this was part of my grieving process.
For instance his urn was a motorcycle gas tank. It was from my little brother’s first motorcycle. Dad had it saved in the garage, “scrapbooked” so he could hold all the precious memories alive. Levi (my brother) meticulously sanded it down, and painted it flat black. One of our favorite memories. Ask dad his favorite color, “flat black,” was always his response. He even went so far as to spray paint an old International pickup truck flat black while mom was sleeping. We then put an ‘In Memory’ decal on his urn.
We had decided to wear jeans, a ‘God’ T-shirt, and dew-wraps. You see, dad lived his life for God. He ministered in a way different from the typical pastoral figure. He ministered through living. He always had on a God shirt. It was typically black, and looked like any other biker T-shirt, until you read it. This always drew questions, in which he was always prepared to answer in an inviting way.
He led and participated in many ministries. He was a “Biker for Christ.” He did prison ministries, helped out at soup kitchens, and went with the church teenagers on their mission trips. He was weeks away from becoming an ‘official’ pastor.
I’ll never forget the first time he preached in front of the church. At the time our church was still ‘traditional.’ Dad stood at the front of the church with a black T-shirt emblazoned with bold white letters; “SATAN SUCKS." This was my dad.
This day he was nervous. To add to this nervousness, he had hecklers! Yes, hecklers AT CHURCH! The old ladies did not like his shirt, one even told him to turn it inside out. His nervousness led to pacing, and a view of the back of his shirt. JESUS SAVES. You could feel the sigh of relief and acceptance as everyone sat back and listened to his message.
Back to his memorial. This was by far the most powerful day of my life. I know in most circumstances, especially ones like ours, people are defeated. Questioning God’s purpose, and even existence. I felt empowered. At the end of the day I knew dad had served his purpose.
The day started out wet. A wet, rainy day; how fitting. There were bikers from all across the country (family, and friends he had made in his ministry) riding to this memorial. And it was raining. Hard.
I’ll never forget standing in the church parking lot that day. The rain had let up, and was barely a drizzle. All of a sudden there was thunder. A loud, continuous, rumble. I think I heard it before anyone else, or at least I had registered what the sound was.
The tears started to flow, rushing down my face like the rain we were wiping from our windshield earlier. My soon-to-be-husband wrapped his arms around me tight as we waited.
The thunder got louder and louder. And here they came. Motorcycle after motorcycle. Pouring in from both directions, merging together in a single file line. Somber faced. Filling the church parking lot. Remembering my father.
To this day, I get butterflies when I hear the familiar rumble rolling down the highway.
The church was packed. The pews were full. The family center, equipped with video feed, was loaded. People were standing everywhere in between. In over thirty years of service, this was the largest turnout the pastor and his wife had ever seen.
The service was so fitting. Upbeat music. Dad’s story. God’s story. An invitation to Christianity.
Towards the end of the service the pastor invited people to ‘tell their story,’ to remember Dave. This is how I know dad served God’s purpose for him. So many people, some I had never met, stood up and shared how dad led them to God. And we only heard from the sanctuary! The family center was just as energized! People came up to me weeks, even months later sharing their story.
That’s it for today. I’m starting to feel like I am rambling. Come back next week to read more of “my story.” Thanks for bearing with me on this challenging trip.