It was a hot and humid day in Toledo, Ohio. We were privileged to be invited to a celebration of love. It was a farewell celebration for two folks that gave many an example of love beyond any you would find in a Holy Book, or expressed in a sermon by a Holy Man.
I was standing outside the chapel having one more smoke when I noticed the diversity of the folks attending this celebration of love. There were several folks on Harley Davidsons, heads cleanly shaven, freshly polished boots shining in the sun. There was a multitude of mini vans, SUVs, etc that carried the traditional families. The Silver Haired folks all seemed to be driving Lincolns, Cadillacs, Buicks, etc.
George was a carpenter by trade and had those huge calloused hands that could swallow your hand in a hearty handshake, grasp your body in a true bear hug, and yet caress a baby ever so gently. Judy was a special lady that loved to cook and her love was intensified if there was huge numbers of folks to enjoy her craft. Both of these folks had never met a stranger only a new friend to help and love.
The presiding minister was also a carpenter and had worked with George on many projects. Today he would only add a few special words to this celebration of love. The love that was shared on this day came from the hearts of a few of the many folks George and Judy had touched. This was one day when I can honestly say I felt wrapped in a blanket of love. It is a feeling that I wish could last forever.
The podium was opened for all to share the love they felt for George and Judy. First came Paula, Georgie Jr’s wife. She spoke of feeling the special love that you only have with family or with George and Judy, The Grandchildren took a turn sharing a few special giggles and tears. The littlest one shared Grandma’s secret ingredient for all her recipes… “It was Love.” Several grown men stood proud, with tear stained faces to express their special love for George and Judy. Sharing stories of wresting with George in the back yard when even four high school age fellas couldn’t keep him down. Judy’s special food and the feeling “You don’t have to be hungry to eat here.”
George was a Korean War vet. The men from the VFW performed the military send off with pride. It was obvious most of them could not march ten miles any more but they still had the pride of their uniform. Crisp salutes, backs straight as an arrow, weapons shined with love, it was all there. Taps and a twenty-one gun salute brought a special meaning to the end of this service. The Master Sergeant appeared to be a WW I vet. His posture would make any military person proud to have served.
Hold your fork the best is yet to come…. The celebration has moved to the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Church/hall. We all know this is where the true stories are told, the memories that all will carry in their hearts. The food was a special tribute to Judy and the example of love she always presented. One person forgot for a moment that George was gone and asked if George could find us more ice. One fella told the story of George driving over forty miles to build a deck at his home. George was a craftsman but all he wanted to talk about was his daughter Connie, his son Georgie, his grandkids, and Brooklyn, New York. Personally I’d love to hear one more Brooklyn story and share one more piece of pie wrapped in that special love that these folks lived daily.
Some would call this a travesty to the Whritenour family. To loose two of the elder statesmen of the family within hours is almost impossible to imagine. If you know how much love was shared by these two folks in the over forty years they spent together you will understand. You will understand how one couldn’t live without the other. George and Judy have given us all examples of love to live by. If we all could be so kind and loving all the Holy Men would be out of business in a heart beat. What is it about Carpenters and their families that seems to change the world on a daily basis?
I know the next time we join the Whritenour family for a celebration Connie will be fixing some of what Judy taught her by example. Georgie will be telling stories of the East-side of Toledo just as his Dad spoke of Brooklyn, New York. The Love will be there, the food will be there, and a very special couple will be in our hearts.