The sound of Martha's voice on the other end of
telephone always brought a smile to Father Jim's
face. She was not only one of the oldest member
of the congregation, but one of the most faithful.
Aunty Martie, as all of the childre called her,
just seemed to ozze faith, hope and love
wherever she went. However, there seemed to
be an unusal tone to her words.
"Father, could you stop by this afternoon?
I need to talk to you" martha asked.
"Of course, I'll be there around three.
Is that Ok?" Father Jim replied
It didn't take long for Father Jim to discover
the reason for what he had only sensed in her
voice before, As they sat facing each other.
In the quiet of her small living room,
Martha shared the news that the Doctor had just
discovered a previously undetected Tumor.
"He says I probably have six months to live"
Words were naturally serious, yet there was a
definite calm about her
"I'm so sorry to...."
but before father Jim could finish.
"Don't be. The Lord has been good.
I have lived a long life, I'm ready to go.
You know that" "I know " Father Jim whispered
with a reassuring nod.
"But I do want to talk with you about my
funeral. I have been thinking about it,
and there are things that I know I want.
The two talked quietly for a long time
They talked about Martha's favorite hymns,
the passages of Scripture that had meant so much
to her though the years, and the many memories
they shared from the five years that Father Jim
had been with the parish.
When it seemed that they had covered just
everything, Martha paused, looking up at
Father Jim with a twinkle in her eyes,
and then added "One more thing, father.
When they bury me, I want my old Bible in
one hand and a fork in the other.
"A fork" Jim was sure he had heard everything,
but this caught him by suprise.
"Why do you want to be buried with a fork?"
"I have been thinking about all the church
dinners and banquets that I attended though the
year's," she explained. "I couldn't begin to
count them all. But one thing stick
in my mind At those realy nice get-togethers,
when the meal was almost finished ,
a server or maybe the hostess would come by
to collect the dirty dishes. Sometimes, at
the best ones. someone would lean over my
shoulders and whisper
"I can hear the words now"
"You can keep your fork"
And do you know what that meant?
Dessert was coming!
"It didn't meen a Cup of Jello-O or pudding
or even a dish of ice cream. you don't need a
fork for that, it meant the good stuff,
like chocolate cake or cherry pie!
When they told me I could keep my fork I
knew the best was yet to come"
"That's exactly what I want people to talk
about at my funeral. Oh. they can talk about
all the good times we had together,
that would be nice. But when they walk by my
casket and look at my pretty dress,
I want them to turn to one another and say,
"Why the fork?"
That's when I want you to say,
I want you to tell them, "that I kept my fork
because the is yet to come!"