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Precious Memories

April 2, 2023

Another Way for week of March 24, 2023

Precious Memories

As we get older, my husband and I go to a lot of funerals and memorial services. A fact of life, for most of us. I remember my mother reflecting on this phase of life.

Of course, this has gotten to be even more frequent with the pandemic. I have lost count. I don’t find these services depressing. (Sad yes, but not depressing.) It is often quite inspiring to hear of lives well-lived and how these friends/relatives/distant acquaintances touched others.

So pardon me if you’ve gotten tired of my sharing some of these lessons learned from others. Although I shouldn’t need to apologize for writing out these memories and stories.

Jeff (left), daughter Michelle (right) and dear friend Linda holding Jeff.

This is a story told by an ordained minister who, as a little boy, was one of my daughter’s first playmates. Jeff (above and below) was nine months older than our first daughter Michelle. Jeff’s mother, Gwen (not shown) offered me so much companionship and great parenting advice as she went through the various stages of taking care of a child—a few months before me.

Linda, from our church, explains why Michelle is exploring her very first cake birthday.

The now-grown (and 40ish) Jeff told this story at his grandfather’s funeral/memorial which moved me greatly and touched others. As he began his eulogy, he reminded us that Presbyterians believe in doing everything “decently and in order” (now partially an insider joke).

He told a story of something that happened long ago in a communion service where his grandfather, Mac, was strangely and memorably moved. The breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup is a sacred practice in most Protestant and Catholic churches commemorating the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. Jesus encouraged his followers to do likewise as they remembered him.

Jeff, an entertaining but reverent preacher, explained how his grandfather was worshipping in a particularly “fancy” church which covered the whole communion table with a white table cloth, with little peaks of cloth topping the communion trays of grape juice and plates of bread. Jeff said the cloth covering always made him eager to see exactly what was beneath that cloth, especially as a kid.

Jeff went on in a humorous vein: “But I never got why they would replace the cloth after communion. They covered everything back up! Well, we’ve already seen what’s under it, why do they put the white cloths back on?”

On one such occasion, Jeff said his Pop (as he called his grandfather) was with his daughter (Jeff’s mother Gwen). The cloth had been lifted and folded up, “or whatever they do with it, while the communion is being served.” Jeff paused. “The story goes that as it was being put back on the communion trays, Pop got emotional, an emotion we didn’t see very much. He actually began to weep, to really cry. And Pop said to Mom, ‘I’m not sure why I’m crying, but I remember my Dad doing that’ (arranging the cloth after communion).”

Jeff summarized the meaning for him: “That memory! Decades old, but a memory, of another person (Mac’s dad), who had shaped Pop’s branches. Unveiling the fruit of faith, of his roots, that touched his soul.”

Then Jeff reminded us all while swallowing some of his own emotion, “That God, that God was the one who was with Pop, who held him all his life, and the one that now holds him in life everlasting.”

Mac with his wife, Ellen, who is still living.

Jeff’s telling of that true family story sent me searching for a tissue, because Jeff and Mac’s history triggered for me hearing my Dad sing—off tune but robustly—the hymns of faith that many of us grew up with. If the congregation sings “Blessed Assurance” I can hear my dad as plainly as if he were standing next to me. There are a number of other hymns and Bible passages that strongly reconnect me with my dad and now my mom.

I hope this story reminds you too of the roots that you may have had as a child or young adult, or of a beloved grandfather, grandmother, mom or dad.


Who gave you your roots of faith?

Who is giving your children or grandchildren those roots ?

How do you do communion or the Lord’s supper at your church?

Comment here or write to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Yesterday a dear friend, one of my Southern Ladies, attended my launch party. She seemed breezy and sociable, her usual self. She even bought books for friends who couldn’t attend. Before she left she said, “My younger brother died yesterday!” I was stunned at her fortitude in making the effort to come in spite of grief, and I ushered her immediately into our bedroom to give us privacy. She shared the details, I gave her a Kleenex, and then she left, grandson Ian helping her out the door with her bag of books.

    Yes, I too am buying lots of sympathy cards; in February I attended (virtually) the memorial service of a younger first cousin. I remember well my mother saying to me in her eighties, “All my friends are dying; it’s sad!” Yes, it is sad but as Christians we have the hope of eternal life with resurrected bodies. Praise God.

    This morning our family observed a Presbyterian communion service. We dipped a square of bread into the wine(maybe it was grape juice?). A gluten-free choice was also available. Indeed, we are passing our “roots” of faith on to our family. Ian participated with us. Great post, Melodie!

    • Thanks for sharing your recent experiences. I’m glad your friend opened up before leaving, good move to connect more deeply in privacy. I hope we read about your launch party, how special.

      Interesting notes on the communion service you attended. We use grape juice at our Presbyterian church. The pastor and an elder always glove-up to serve–one tears off the bread and the other does the dipping and we receive the dipped bread to return to our seats and eat/commune. Not fancy but wonderful to ponder the tradition from Jesus’ day. 🙂

  2. Silver, Beverly P - silverbp permalink

    Thaank you Melodie. Beautiful remembrances and beajtifullly written. Love Beverly

    • Beverly, and you are a precious and beautiful long-standing member and friend. Thanks for making the effort to comment here! Glad you enjoyed it. Love!

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