My friend, Erma Fennell passed away Easter morning…. Funerals take place very quickly in Mexico as they do not embalm, so Monday was her funeral service at church which lasted approximately 6 hours with lots of praise and worship music….loving memories and testimonies from those that had been touched by her life….
People brought flowers from their gardens tied with ribbons, there were lots of fragrant lilies and calla lilies…..every colored flower you can imagine…..there were professional floral arrangements, there were homemade crosses and wreaths that were decorated…there was an unbelievable outpouring of love…..
Funerals in Mexico are quite different….people don’t just quickly pass by the casket to see the loved one….people linger over the casket as if trying to memorize the loved one’s face and say their final goodbyes…..they lift young children so they can see….men and women alike shed tears without embarrassment…..they lovingly stroke the casket….. there was praise and worship music played…….Praise God that her daughter, Judy and son-in-law, Paul and grandson, Michael and his finace arrived from Canada shortly after the service began…. It has been a long time since I have cried so many tears…..I loved Erma but I also think it was an accumulation of her passing being the 3rd loved one I have lost in about 6 weeks…..it is too much…… I got home that night at 10pm completely spent from hours of emotion and crying…..but the burial was Tuesday….
We all gathered back at the church again at noon….I think the amount of flowers had doubled….there was more music, memories shared and messages from 3 different pastors….then Erma’s casket was loaded into the back of a pickup covered with flowers and another pickup that was full of flowers and everyone followed her to the cemetery with a short momentary stop by the city park where approximately 60 senior citizens from the nursing home waited to witness her passing and applauded and waved as the truck slowly drove by….. I was with a friend that was driving a large cargo van so we asked the crowd if anyone wanted a ride to the cemetery, and before we knew it we had probably 10-12 elderly lining up….we loaded them up and continued to the cemetery……when we arrived there were already 2 men playing guitars and singing and there were seats available…..we watched as her casket was lowered from the pickup and again there were last looks and goodbyes while people shared wonderful memories of Erma and her ministry……
There are no cemetery employees that dig the grave or lower the casket….it is all done by the loved ones…..so we watched as fellow workers in the ministry and family members lowered her casket into the ground and people threw flowers, and we knew that it was true….she really is gone for now….but as any Christian knows….we all have the hope of eternal life with our Lord….so we take comfort in that…..
I have never witnessed anything like the love that was poured out for Erma and everything she accomplished in this valley…..I don’t think I will ever be quite the same, but in a good way…..it was a wonderful celebration of her life and I just hope that when I leave this world that I would have even a fraction of good that she did here left behind….
I would like to share a funny little story about Erma…as anyone that knew her she was a ball of energy that just kept going and going….and she told me one day about how one night she was down on the floor doing her exercises and the next thing she knew she woke up and the tv was on and she realized she had fallen asleep on the floor and slept there all night….. 🙂
Rest in the arms of our Lord Erma….well done.
– Janie Chavez