Keep Your Fork, The Best is Yet to Come

keep your fork

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.

Recipe Book Spawned by Lockdown

Lockdown life spawns a recipe book

What have I been doing during our latest lockdown? Nothing too exciting, as is the point of said lockdown. Advised to stay home and socially distance ourselves from loved ones and not so loved ones alike, there is not much else to do. Grocery shopping has become an event on my calendar. Although a warm vacation would have been great, I have found other things to keep me busy. When all the local gardens are frozen solid and covered in snow, the part of my brain focusing on my landscaping/gardening business switches over to freelance writing. I have a few projects on the go in that department, specifically, a recipe book containing childhood recipes originating from my maternal grandmother at the farmhouse I have mentioned a few times.

Social Media to the Rescue

Social media, namely Facebook, has been a great tool to rekindle connections with my many cousins on that side of my family. I believe there are at least thirty of us first cousins and many more second and third cousins! This adventure is going to create quite a collaborative cookbook.

I volunteered to spearhead the project, appointing myself as chief collator, sorter, editor etc. Many of these recipes were handwritten (of course no one had any other method of transcription back in those days) by my Grandmother, back in the 1950s. Her short forms, terminology, and unique cursive writing often have me guessing.

Publishing Options for Recipe Book

So, when my eldest granddaughter is busy with her online school classes, or during any other spare time I find (who doesn’t have spare time these days??) I am typing furiously, trying to get the recipes ready for publishing.

I have chosen Lulu, a self-publishing, online platform for this recipe book where copies are only printed as they are ordered. That way I do not have to pay anything in advance, worry about deliveries or store unsold copies. When I am done, I simply send a link to my extended family members and they can order copies as they wish.

Proceeds Donated

All proceeds from the sale of this recipe book will be donated to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery where many generations of this family are laid to rest, located just down the road from the family farmhouse.

It’s all about the (farmland) smell

Recently I drove through a portion of the eastern Ontario countryside from Ottawa to the Cornwall area. I purposely took the back roads to enjoy the beautiful greenery of the local farms along the way. As well as the scenery, believe it or not, I love the smell associated with the farmland. I attribute this to my heritage.

Beaudette family farmhouse

My maternal grandparents were farmers.  They are long gone from this world, but never from my memories.  The farmhouse they lived in has since been renovated and just a portion part of their land still worked by family members.  Down the road from the farmhouse is the cemetery where these grandparents, as well as both of my own parents, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins are buried.

The main purpose of this recent (road) trip down memory lane was to clean up the memorial garden in this cemetery.  It was overgrown with weeds and other invasive plants.  Thanks to the help of a friend, an aunt and a cousin, we managed to rid the garden of unwanted greenery.  With a few new perennials added as well as the soil and mulch replenished, it looks much better.  I wish I had thought to take a “before” picture;  this is the “after”…

Pleasant Valley Cemetery

In between the sweltering hot jobs of weeding and adding the new plants, soil and mulch I took a “cool off” break in the form of an opportunity to meet up with a childhood friend with whom I had recently reconnected with on Facebook.  Isn’t it amazing how you can catch up on 30+ years in an hour?

The scenery and yes, the smell of the farmland too, were added bonuses.