Funerals always seem to have a spiritual effect on me, a recent one was no different. I went home touched by a story titled “Keep your Fork, The Best is Yet to Come.”
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her preacher and asked him if he would come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read and what clothing she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible. Everything was in order and the preacher was preparing to leave, when the woman suddenly remembered something very important.
“There’s one more thing” she said excitedly. “What’s that?” came the preacher’s reply. She told him, “This is something very important, I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The preacher stood looking at the woman not knowing quite what to say. “That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the woman asked. “Well, to be honest I’m puzzled by the request,” said the preacher. The woman explained, In all my years of attending church potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, “Keep your fork.” It was my favorite part of the dinner because l knew that something “better” was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep dish apple pie – something wonderful, and with substance!
So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, “What’s with the fork?” Then I want you to tell them, “Keep your fork – the best is yet to come.” The preacher’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death, but he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than maybe he did because she knew that something “better” was coming.
At the funeral, the woman’s many friends were walking by her casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing, her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the preacher heard the question, “what’s with the fork?” And over and over he simply smiled. As he spoke the eulogy, the preacher told those in attendance of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them how he could not stop thinking about the fork and said they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.Gospel Snippets
Interests in Common
The dearly departed person we were all celebrating the life of was a former co-worker of mine for many years. Although she was older than me and retired earlier than I did, we had lots in common. Other than working together in a hospital lab for years.
We kept in touch after we both retired because we had many interests in common. We shared April birthdays (two days apart), an appreciation for the beauty in nature, an affinity for sipping tea, loyal support of the Ottawa Senators, a love of wildlife and plants, as well as the talent to brag about and post pictures of our respective grandchildren.
Sharing Branches of our Family Tree
It also turns out we shared ancestors, this fact discovered years ago in a funny story. Way back, when Diana Spencer became the Princess of Wales we were chatting at work about the wedding. It went something like this:
Her: I found out I’m related to Princess Diana
Me: Really? So am I, apparently
Her: how are you related?
Me: My great, great, great, great (I think only 4) grandmother was a Spencer
Her: Huh, so was mine!
A few days later, she pulls out a family tree and shows me her great, great, great, great grandmother’s branch of said tree. It turned out her branch and my branch were sisters! That made us cousins, many times removed, but related nonetheless. This familial connection also helps explain our shared fascination with the royal family. Although we did not share her love for genealogy, my brother does, so I gave her his contact information so they could compare notes.
Keep Your Fork for Dessert
I have heard “keep your fork” many times over the years, in fact, it brought back memories of the farmhouse meals my grandmother used to make. Of course, that was way before the invention of dishwashers when the only variety of those were the two-legged kind. My reason for keeping my fork was based on my love for a good dessert, something else we shared.
Keeping Your Fork in a Spiritual Sense
The spiritual version to keep your fork for better things to come may help those pondering what is on the other side when we leave this world for heaven. This interpretation may be especially comforting for those suffering before their transition as well as for their family members watching them suffer.