by Fr Duncan McVicar on 08/08/2011 -
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things “in order”, she contacted her Parish Priest and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at the Mass, what Readings she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested to be buried with her favourite prayer book and her rosary. Everything was in order and the priest was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. “There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly. “What’s that?” came the priest’s reply. “This is very important,” the woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The priest stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. “That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the woman asked. “Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the priest. The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and Christmas dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork’. It was my favourite part because I knew that something better was coming… like velvety chocolate cake or apple pie and custard. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that coffin with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’. Then I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork….the best is yet to come”. The priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She knew with certainty that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the woman’s coffin and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favourite prayer book and rosary and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the priest heard the question “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his message, the priest told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The priest told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come…
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