You might think it odd for a bunch of people to sing Happy Birthday at a graveside service, but we did just that today. Emil Lang is buried under a lovely shade tree, near an old curved concrete bridge at Elmwood Cemetery. I told my friend Maggie that I wanted to be buried somewhere like this too.
I know it may sound odd, but a good funeral is hard to beat. How sad can you be at the funeral of a 106-year-old man who lived life to its fullest? There were tears, but there was mostly joy in remembering what a good man Emil Lang was. He loved life, he loved people, and he cherished every day he had on this earth. He was born on this date in 1902. He got married on this date and now it seems fitting that he arrived at his body’s final resting place on this date too.
His longtime pastor Dr. Charles Carter preached Emil’s funeral and I’d like to have a tape of it so I could hear his words again. Dr. Carter was pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church for many years and his words were both comforting and encouraging. His words made you want to live life more like Emil lived it. Dr. Carter said he’s yet to meet anyone that didn’t love Emil Lang. Imagine living 106 years and having that accurately said at your funeral. But, that was Emil. Kind in his words and actions, always looking for ways to do something for someone else…..that was Emil Lang.
Dr. Carter said Emil’s walk confirmed his words. He wasn’t rich by today’s standards, but most everyone attending his funeral today believe he is just getting settled into his mansion and treasures in heaven.
So we sang “Happy Birthday” loudly and with joy right in the middle of Elmwood under a perfectly blue October sky. Dr. Carter ended the graveside service with these words: “We haven’t lost our friend Emil Lang today; you can’t lose someone when you know where they are.” Amen.
I’ll see you tonight at 4:30, 5, 6 and 10.