Burials are very somber occasions where you get to take stock of your life and what value you have added to people and whether you have done what you are passionate about. Last year, I traveled to Tororo town for my uncle’s burial to pay my respects and say goodbye to a man I never saw sick or heard complain. A cool man who was senior in age but not the heart. When you think of him you would not use the word old because that implies tired and frail but that is not an accurate comparison of who he was.
Although burial services are often sad events, I was greatly entertained by the Catholic priest who conducted the mass and the best man of the deceased who told the most hilarious stories about him that I will remember for years. The catholic priest was young compared to the crowd at this burial but very theological, therefore with his youth came a fiery dissemination of the written word in a way that is uncommon and very refreshing.
The deceased had been married to the same woman for 50 years and was an ardent supporter of the catholic church for all his life, this seemed fitting and served as the foundation for his sermon that day
Catholic Priest: ‘’Praise God!’’
Catholic Priest: ‘’Today, we celebrate the life of a man who understands what service and commitment are about.’’
Audience: ‘’Yes, amen.’’
Catholic Priest: ‘’Those of you who have not wedded in church and you pass on, you have left a woman. Do not be mistaken, you have not left a wife because you have not wedded in church - Holy matrimony.’’
To this many in the crowd giggled and a few middle-aged women began to look at the gentlemen seated next to them. It was quite the sight as I observed many give glances and gentle nudges as though to drive a point home. Then I adjusted my seat for better viewing of this clergyman and paid keen attention
Catholic Priest: ‘’So any man can wake up and come and take her for a wife and you cannot complain. So respect her and make her your wife; not your woman.’’
The giggles had now evolved into loud ramblings of affirmation with many clapping intermittently but nothing had prepared me for the analogy that he intended to use shortly.
Catholic Priest: ‘’When you watch men drink from the same malwa (local brew) tubes and they do not wipe it. I admire that level of love between them. I am not saying go and begin to drink alcohol. I am telling you to remember that you are a visitor here. It is, therefore, important that you know that your life is temporal and you are accountable to a greater person. You can have children but not raise them, we cannot call these children of value.’’
Many burst out in laughter at the alcohol reference but this clergyman was not mincing his words.
Catholic Priest: ‘’Invest in your children so that you can be proud of them when you pass on so that they are a clear representation of who you are.’’
This statement came after a long and detailed reference to the deceased’s emphatic insistence in educating both his daughters and sons. He also raised them to be God fearing, driven, achievement-oriented and to have empathy for people.
Catholic Priest: ‘’The deceased was not a minister, council member or chief but he made his mark.’’
As we walked to our cars and the rest of the village folks set off for their long walk back home, this clergyman had lit a fire and started conversations all around. Many laughed along as they spoke and reflected on what he had said but there were also a few men who were cornered and put on the spot as to the nature of their status.
The take home for me was, people need to be valued, loved and celebrated and if you have a person of substance and do not value them someone else will. Time does not wait for any man so make the most of your stay here, we are all but visitors passing through onto a better place.
What will be said in your Eulogy? It is still being written so make your mark.