We called him “The great and wonderful Stedge.” He carved out a place in everyone’s memory because of his unique approach to life. Stedge (Donald Stedge) went home to be with the Lord at the age of 76 years old. He lived a hard life, but came to a place where he put his future to rest in the Lord. Stedge was blunt, simple and often said what other people were thinking, but afraid to say.
Simple is what I saw last Saturday at his funeral. It took place in a small town, East Worcester, NY. The town is very close to where we lived for 12 years. It’s a rural mountainous countryside that flourished when small farms supplied the bulk of milk and food for many homes. Each town was unique and represented a slice of history that made the American culture unique. The towns have a center square where bands played on Friday night and flags were raised to remember those who fought in wars that took so many young men early in their lives.
These towns are slowly disappearing as the elderly cling to fond memories of years past. Yearly parades with firetrucks, kids in baseball uniforms, and school bands with proud parents lining the streets. Now the streets are quiet, the school buildings closed, churches that were full on Christmas and Easter are boarded up. It was a moment of reflection for me to walk down the streets filled with so many fond memories of when we lived there.
The First Baptist Church in East Worcester is located on a side road, up a hill that you would tremble to drive in the middle of winter. Its “steep as a cow’s face” we used to say. That’s where the funeral was held. The church is about 125 years old, stained glass windows, paint peeling from the ceiling, but I found it alive as the pastor got up to lead the funeral service. He looked to be in his early 60’s, big smile, long beard, “Jesus is Lord” tie, sneakers and sports coat. His booming voice carried throughout the small building without a microphone or sound system. The people sang old hymns with gusto, and in four part harmony. They stood and told stories about Stedge’s life, and we all laughed. When it was over a wooden divider in the back of the church opened, and the kitchen appeared. It was simple, but the food was great with lots of salads, meatloaf, potatoes, and homemade cookies and pie! I sat with my longtime partner in business, Dave Armao and got reacquainted with many people I haven’t seen for over 30 years.
I felt at home; so many memories of good years raising our children. No internet; television was limited to 1 or 2 stations. Sunday was church, and then family lunch together. Pickles were homemade, and we raised our own meat that we cooked on a charcoal grill.
I can’t go back and redo life, but the impact of that season in our family’s history is still very much alive in my memory.
Over the next 9 weeks, I will be starting a new series; “Raising Children – Is There a Mulligan?” In the game of golf, a “mulligan” is what you ask for when you want to take a shot over. I believe this series will challenge you to stop and consider how you are raising your children. It will be for many of you a “mulligan.” For some, it will help you realize where you came from and where you are going or why you are the way you are.
I will have a microphone and we will be “live streaming” over the internet. Maybe we’ll sing a hymn or two with great gusto. I have no doubt that this series will be like the lunch they served at the funeral… filling and reflective.
This will take us into the summer and all those memorable times that are created on Sundays together under the tent.
Love and Blessings,