Dear Friend, September 12, 2014
Here is an article “Praying about my Death” by Rich Foss. I think you will appreciate it. It was published in the Bureau Valley Chief Tiskilwa, IL newspaper. Rich has been a mentor to me and a close friend and graciously granted me permission to share this with you.
Tiskilwa Plow Creek Boy
A Bureau Valley Chief column by Rich Foss
It was peaceful, two in the morning following Labor Day, and I was lying in bed, next to my sleeping Sarah, contemplating my passing. I suppose it was understandable, given the fragility of my health and the fact that Sarah and I had been to three memorial service in the previous nine days.
As I thought of praying about my death, I wondered, what do I want? How should I pray? Then it came to me. I wanted to pray for a peaceful death, not only peaceful for me but peaceful for Sarah, our children, friends, family-so many people who love me and that I have loved.
A peaceful passing seemed like a tall order, like an impossible dream, but what is prayer for if not for the impossible. Our Father loves to do the impossible for his broken and wounded.
Thus I prayed and it was a peaceful prayer and then I fell asleep. The next day, Tuesday, Sarah and I had lunch together. I told her about my thoughts and prayer from the night before. We shed some tears, held each other, and talked. Sarah said that it would help with the peaceful part if we went to a funeral home and made plans. I readily agreed and the next day she called the FiocchiJensen Funeral Home and made an appointment for Wednesday.
I printed out a one page sheet called Funeral/Memorial Planning that Cal Zehr, pastor of Willow Springs Mennonite Church of rural Tiskilwa had emailed me at my request earlier in the summer. A good friend and parishioner from Willow Spring, Dennis Zehr, suggested I contact Cal about getting the sheet.
That afternoon Sarah and I took the sheet with us for a late lunch at Kramer’s Kitchen in Princeton. We shared a delicious, eight inch chicken wrap and their fresh, homemade potato chips and talked through whether I wanted to be cremated or not (no) and where to have the funeral if the Plow Creek common building wasn't large enough. As we talked I was reminded of how for years Sarah and I went out to eat while we were doing our taxes. Neither of us are tax experts and we’d get tense as we worked through the complicated forms. Dining out helped us to relax.
Many a wag has said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” I guess for Sarah and I the best place to talk about death and taxes is a nice quiet restaurant.
In our conversation, the moment I felt most emotional was when I said, “I’d like someone from Plow Creek to build my casket.” David Gale of Plow Creek Builders built caskets for a number of people over the years.
A few years ago one of our members, Michelle, was diagnosed with stage four cancer. She moved to Chicago to be close to her daughter her last couple of years. Since we knew her death was just a matter of time, David built her casket and stored it in our basement. Michele came for a visit before her passing and went to our basement to check out her casket. I remember her beaming in gratitude as she came up from the basement. There’s something about the love of a friend made real in the shaping of a coffin.
I’ll be buried in the Plow Creek cemetery. For a while I considered being cremated because I would be less of a burden, literally, as my ashes were being buried. But I’ve decided to go with a traditional burial. Many good things come from a few good people working together to bear the burden.
Rich Foss Tiskilwa, IL