By Juanita Floyd
My oldest son, Tyler, asked me, “Momma, why do you always write about funerals or the homegoing services of people whom you know and some you don’t?”
I told him that when listening to the preacher or people talking positively about how individuals lived their lives – it gives me an opportunity to honor the memory of that person and it causes me to assess and evaluate my own life. Margaret Peters said, “Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.”
Sadly, right before Christmas, I attended the funeral of Gilroy Bails, the father of Greg Bails, who is married to my niece, Pam. As I sat there in the beautiful sanctuary of St. James Church of God in Christ, many reflected on Mr. Bails’ love of his beloved city, Ripley, and his impact on that community. A former mayor talked about his service as an alderman and his great sense of humor. One talked about his love for his church, Ripley Second Baptist, and another about his deep love for his family. His son, Gilroy, Jr., said, “My Dad loved us. He really loved my mother. In church, dad would always say, “I love the Lord and I love Grace (our mother).” His nephew, Eric, said, “My uncle loved me. I loved him. He knew he was loved. In this time of sorrow, it’s good to know we both knew that we loved each other.”
An emotionally charged moment for me was when his daughter, Teresa, talked about how her dad and mom loved and cared for her when she was sick. She was 50 years old at the time and had been diagnosed with cancer. She called her dad the “midnight stalker.” She would often wake in the early hours of the morning and would see him sitting in the chair looking at her. One day they were sitting on the sofa and she was experiencing pain. Her dad compassionately said, “Lay your head on my chest.” He held her and rocked her as if she were a little child. As tears streamed down my eyes, I thought, “What a wonderful example of a man who loved and supported his family and touched so many lives.” Erin Banks said, “The measure of a man is in the lives he’s touched.”
His pastor, Willie Paine, Jr., said, “All of us must remember, we are only ‘Camping on this Side.’ What are you doing with your life while you are here? Do you love your family? Church? Community? This man’s life spoke for him on this side.”
John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
During the coming new year and beyond, you might ask: What can I do to make a positive difference? How can I impact my community? What can I do to make life better for others? Do my family and friends know without a doubt that I love them? Will my New Year’s resolutions be helpful to others?
One of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson simply says, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Have you been useful, honorable or compassionate to mankind? Will you leave the world better than you found it? Will your life make a difference like Mr. Bails did? You be the judge.
Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice president for Finance and Administration at CREATE Foundation. Contect her at firstname.lastname@example.org.