June 17, 2014We moved with respectful dignity from the church sanctuary to the cortege – ministers, family members and pallbearers with the deceased, colleagues and friends. We turned on our lights and waited quietly in our cars until the funeral director pulled slowly ahead, and then we followed.
In watching for the family in my rearview mirror, I must have left a slight gap between my vehicle and the hearse, for when I glanced forward again, I discovered that a bright red truck piled high with paint ladders had darted from a connecting driveway into the line between me, the preacher, and the dearly departed. It must have been quitting time for the painter as well, I thought. So much for dignity!
We lost the red truck a half-mile later at our first traffic light, but at the third light, an impatient suburbanite in an SUV gunned his vehicle and darted through a tiny gap between family cars, requiring sudden braking by a dozen incredulous mourners. So much for respect!
I was already disappointed that the family had experienced such thoughtless disregard for their grief when I saw him. He looked the consummate urban teen – really low slung jeans, funky backward ball cap, T-shirt, dark glassed, headphones to which his lithe brown body moved in time.
We had slowed to turn left up a hill and to regroup, so it was impossible for the family to miss seeing him. With our deliberate pace and the headlights, he couldn't miss us. But why should he care? He was on his way somewhere. And yet when he spotted the processional, he stopped and, standing tall, took off his shades and his headphones and placed his hat over his heart until the family had passed.
Unlikely heroes are not confined to the pages of the Bible. I saw one once on Roswell Road, and his thoughtfulness to a bereaved family was absolute balm. May God remember to his credit that noble act.
Note from Ray Appen: Walter Jones is semi-retired and my former minister at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church. He is a good friend and the person I turn to in my mind when I have any decision of consequence to make.