When I was growing up, we had a furniture store in town. The owners also had a funeral home. The store was on main street but the mortuary was not. The owners always had a black sign with white plastic letters leaning in the window of the furniture store on main street to announce upcoming funerals.
We always had to drive slowly past the store to see if anyone's name was on the sign. Sometimes it would be a surprise. Sometimes expected and never welcome. The habit of looking in the window on main street was so embedded in the folks here that when the store and mortuary ended up in different hands, we still looked to see if there was an announcement we should know about. The owners found a different store to put the notice in so it was just three store fronts north of where it had been for decades.
I read Jims blog yesterday telling about his Dad not doing well and that he was soon to be heaven bound. So tonight I slowed down when I went past the closed up store with the sign in the front. As I drove past I saw the last name Hovendick. I knew immediately that I needed to circle the block and read the info. Sure enough it was my friend Vernon. I sat there and stared and thought for about 5 minutes. All a great man had left was a memorial service in the church, a Masonic service at the funeral home, and family visitation. Then I thought 'Good for him' he's on the way.
There are so many family stories with the Morrow's and the Hovendicks. Jim's parents and ours were best of friends. Neighboring back then was important. It was necessary and it was the entertainment. My earliest recollection of Marge and Vernon was in church. Marge taught Sunday School for more than 50 years in the basement of our little church. It seemed that every Worship Service, Deacons meeting, Trustees meeting, practice, revival, or potluck dinner that I can remember being at, Marge and/or Vernon were there.
I have a point. I bought seed corn from Vernon for several years, I went to countless lodge and church meetings with him. I took him fishing with me once in the Missouri River when he was making a delivery of seed corn to me. Vernon was quiet, totally unassuming, pleasant, and loved to smile. He spent hours studying the Bible every week. He couldn't have been a better model of Christian living and values to the young people he was influencing. And in the probably thousands of hours I've been in the same room with him in my life, I never once heard him utter a word that couldn't have been broadcast from a pulpit on Sunday morning. Vernon was the 'real thing'. This world will miss him though I certainly would not be one to begrudge him his reward. His wife of many years has been waiting patiently on the other side. Life couldn't have been pleaseant for him the last few years. His hearing and sight had run their course. He was ready I'm sure, to escape this veil of tears.
If Vernon isn't in Heaven right now. There isn't one. But I assure you that he is.