I was out of town the day of Bo Henderson’s funeral , but I was told by many people who did attend that the funeral was, shall we say, just a little unusual—mainly because Bo Henderson (the deceased) delivered the eulogy! What you have to know is that Bo Henderson was a preacher; he’s probably preaching in Heaven now. In his years as a pastor, he had preached a sermon on the topic of something like “Don’t Wait Until I Die to Give Me Flowers” (Of course, his casket was surrounded by flowers.) One point of the sermon was that we should be sure to give “flowers” every day to those around us. It might be real flowers, or it could be a phone call, a card in the mail, a meal, a “thank you,” or an errand that someone needs to have done—things we’ve all at some time thought about doing for someone, but we got busy and just never quite got around to it. That’s the kind of thing that Bo wanted us to get into the habit of doing when he first preached that sermon.
Bo had a rather dry sense of humor, so I’m sure as he looked down from Heaven on the gathering that day, he loved the humor and irony planned into his funeral; I can see him in my mind’s eye as he chuckles, looks toward the ground, and sort of nods his head. The service probably started very sadly because his death had come as a huge shock to all of us who knew him because he was a fitness buff—looked great and was in tip-top physical condition. But he went to bed one night and at some point in time before morning, he was walking around Heaven, checking out those streets of gold. The humorous part of the service was that a recording was played from the day that he had preached the sermon “Don’t Wait Until I Die to Give Me Flowers.” I was told by some attendees that hearing his voice and knowing that he was in the casket at the front of the church was a little strange, but hearing the sermon topic added a little much-needed levity to the somber mood of the day. I think he would have approved!
One thing that I realized during the year that I had cancer was just how important those “flowers” are! There were times when those “flowers” helped me realize just how loved I was and how many people were thinking of and praying for me; that realization got me through many extremely difficult days when I really wanted nothing more than just to go to bed and give up. By the end of that year, I had received almost a thousand cards in the mail, weekly (real) flowers from my sister in Texas, countless e-mails, an unbelievable number of meals (many from a former student and his wife), and the countless number of things that my family did for me (including special surprises from our two daughters every time that I had chemo). All of this brought me face to face with the fact that I had failed miserably at giving out those “flowers” before my illness. But I’m working on improving that because I now know what those “flowers” can mean to the one who receives them.
And I wonder how many people had meant at some time to say something special to Bo. Maybe it was, Thanks for visiting me in the hospital. Or maybe it was, Thanks for praying for me when I really needed it. Perhaps it was simply a delayed, I love you. They really had meant to do that—for a long time! But, like all of us, they had gotten busy and “never got around to it.” Then they heard the news that they would never again have the opportunity to tell him those things that would have meant so much to him.