It was a little strange pulling into the empty parking lot of Toland-Herzig Funeral Home and Famous Endings Museum and then walking in to do some sightseeing. Some on-line searching for attractions in Dover, Ohio, had unearthed the museum where John Herzig displays his extensive and fascinating collection of funeral memorabilia. My husband and I were planning an anniversary get-away and I thought he would like the historical aspect of Famous Endings. Dave and I were both amazed by the memorial that honors “those who have touched our lives”, including actors, astronauts, presidents, inventors, singers and writers. Some honorees died centuries ago and many during our lifetime. Mr. Herzig keeps the display up-to-date, already having photos of Justice Scalia and Mary Tyler Moore included. We gave the very tasteful Famous Endings Museum two thumbs up while realizing that some would find entering a funeral home as a tourist difficult to even consider. (I may have been more tentative to go inside had a family been gathered to say good-bye to a loved one in another part of the building.)
Just a couple of weeks ago, Dave and I attended the memorable memorial service for a quiet man who touched our lives. He was not famous or wealthy. He was constrained to a wheel chair during the decades that we knew him. We only saw him during family celebrations such as birthday and graduation parties. His funeral lasted less than thirty minutes, but his legacy was evident as his grandsons spoke of the impact he made on their lives. His physical limitations sparked creativity resulting in little inventions that helped him take care of himself and his family. Every person who spoke of him, including his pastor, marveled at how he handled the difficulties of his life without complaining and was quick to help anyone in need.
The only music played during his service accented the hope of Heaven and the appreciation for a simple country life. The uplifting message that his pastor shared with the roomful of grieving family members and friends is one that I won’t soon forget.
After relating that the last words spoken by this man who died on February 15 were “I love you”, the pastor presented the message of John 3:16 as a Valentine from God. He then described three ways that God loves us.
- God loves us as a father. Stating that he was not raised by his biological father, but by his step-dad, the pastor recognized that we do not choose our parents and that it can be difficult for some to relate to God as a father.
- God loves us as a spouse or companion. While a comforting thought to many, this idea can also be tainted by the difficulties that some experience in marriage.
- God loves us as a friend. He chose to show his love for the world by reaching down through his only son, Jesus, and we can enter the friendship by reaching up in faith. In this one way, we can have eternal life with God.
During his message, the pastor shared a famous ending, telling of Joe DiMaggio’s love for Marilyn Monroe. Their marriage was short, but DiMaggio was a friend until the end and handled Marilyn’s funeral arrangements. During the years that followed, he saw that fresh roses were placed on her crypt two times a week.
Finally, the pastor stated that God expresses His love for each of us in the same way, seeing that beautiful wildflowers bloom each spring to remind us of how much we are loved.