It is at this stage of a memorial service where you take time to remember. I've been trying to figure out exactly what to say for a couple of days now; trying to focus in on one thing or another as I went through photographs with my family. So what shall I say that you don't know already? If you are here, then you know Reed Roberts was a part of a family. You know that he had a seizure disorder, and there have been years of surgeries and medicines. Most of you know that he lived independently with four other gentlemen in Parma and was proud of that. There are so many things...if I were to talk of only the most touching or intense; we would be here a long time. Memorial services are good for the grieving process, but they cannot, the must not go on forever.
Memorial services are good at something else; they are good at bringing all the special people in one's life together in one place, at one time. This is a gathering like no other, and I don't expect to see one just like it ever again. As I looked over the photos of his life and relived the stories it became obvious that Reed was a happy man. He was a man that was loved. That cannot happen in a vacuum. So many of you played roles in who he was and the man he became. So please indulge me as I attempt to balance remembering who my brother was while looking at all of you who helped shape and support that special soul.
If you said "Good morning!" to him and shook his hand; thank you. If you took time to speak German to him and talk about Volkswagens with him thank you. For the times you overlooked him getting that extra cup of coffee, or laughed at his jokes and listened to his stories; thank you. If you sat in front of him in church, thank you for your patience when he sang his songs loudly and said the litany a couple words behind, or sang the doxology, "world without Ken" -instead of "world without end" we're still trying to figure out who "Ken" is.
If you played remote cars with him, went bowling or bike riding, or went on little outings with him, to a mall or to Amish Country, thank you. If you bought him a green hat -for that matter anything green, you made him happy. Thanks. Thank you for inviting him to your parties, your fish fries, your pancake breakfasts, and your homes. Thank you if you got to his home in Parma. He was always so proud to show it off.
Thank you for looking after him when he tried new things. For sitting with him on Sunday Mornings and telling him about Jesus. He heard you. Thank you for teaching him about crafts and computers and how to buy things for himself. Thank you for trying to make sense of all the medication and helping him manage it. If you were part of helping us understand medical changes happening in him, if you were part of explaining new treatments and procedures and helping my parents make hard decisions, thank you. If you every read an E.E.G. for us. Thank you. If you up lifted my brother in prayer, he felt it. If you prayed for all the hard decisions that had to be made through the years, and if you came and sat in the waiting rooms through long dark hours; you upheld us and carried us where none of us could go alone. If you worried and wept and wondered; we did too. Thank you for coming along side of Reed and us and walking a path we were unsure of.
For those who helped make a new home for Reed, you joined your lives to ours and watched with us as Reed made deep personal friendships that still amaze us all. You have no idea the gift you gave him, even if things didn't go just as hoped or last as long as we would have wished. If you cooked for the guys or decorated Christmas trees or bought sheets, or made repairs; you made their house a home. With the Fordwick house we found kindred souls that could understand without words the love that is there for such special men. Thank you so much!
Finally, to my own family; Noelle and Lauren Rae, you spent hours playing with Reed. You made him smile with your jokes and filled his hours with chess games, cartoons, tag games, and long talks. No uncle could have loved you more, and you always had hugs and kisses for him. Your love made him shine. You are good nieces, well done.
Jeff, coming into this family was new and different, but you stuck around anyway. You talked to Reed as man and always made time to joke around with him. He loved singing silly songs with you. He admired you, looked up to you, asked after you, and loved you. You were his brother. You did well.
Clari, you gave him joy. He loved having you home and hearing about the places you've been. You never hid your friends from him but let him join in as best he could. You were fun and exciting for him especially in these later years since we've been grown. Your email correspondence was a great thing for him. That communication was precious. You made big plans for him as well as for yourself. I wish it all could have come true, I wish he could've seen the mountains this summer. But you planned it all the same. It was good. You are a good sister, we are proud of you.
Mom and Dad, in looking back, you made a real home for us. You never denied Reed had problems but you never handled him with such kid gloves that he couldn't live and love and experience life. I looked at the pictures this week when we put our memory boards together. Pictures of that beautiful bright baby, all of us kids horsing around and doing things. There were great vacations, and sports and camps for all of us. You worked hard to do the very best by all of us. You know even in his hospital pictures, Reed was usually smiling. I know it's easy to say it was him, but it wasn't all him. You made a world for Reed, Clari and I that we could be free to grow up and become the people we are. And when things got scary and hard, you had the sense to get help. You opened the doors of our life to all of these people and let them come in and be with us. Despite what could've or should've been; Reed was a happy man. As a man, we all knew that he had more than a type of innocence. There was a glow about him. The faith you prayed for Reed to have, turned out to be stronger than anyone could have expected. It was a hard race, yet you took it and I know you would have run it longer. We all would have. But you did it. You did well. You are good parents.
Sunday morning, my brother's earthly eyes closed, but heavenly ones opened to the face of Jesus Christ, His Savior. For myself, I feel is if a great star has risen from my house and gone to make heaven all the more brighter and all the more joyful than it already is. I'm very proud to have witnessed Reed's life and humbled that God should share such a sweet soul with my family, and my community.
I will grieve his death, and miss his voice among us. But I won't shelve the reality of Reed Robert's life on some mental shelf and say "done". He wasn't put on this earth just be observed and worried over, but to learn from. I wonder what kind of people would we have been were it not for Reed. Please remember...
Reed never questioned life. He lived it one moment at a time.
He was never bitter over suffering. He endured it.
He did not fear the future. He looked forward to it and kept on.
And if you ever talked to him about God, Reed never doubted. Jesus loved him, he knew it to his core, and Reed believed.
We talk about it and repeat verses to it every Sunday. Reed always said the litany loud and proud. His mind was made up. It is true. It is real. Today Reed is in the Resurrection and the Life. Let us celebrate that. Let us embrace it. Let us take it into ourselves and claim it as the free gift that God willingly, joyfully and affectionately gives us.
To the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, at last I say thank you.