The day after Christmas my uncle, Blaine Nay, passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully. He was only 58 years old, but they found he had a congenital heart defect. He laid down and his heart simply stopped.
Uncle Blaine deserved a peaceful transition out of this life because in this life he was a peacemaker.
He was kind, sweet and gentle. He loved corny jokes, funny pranks, the outdoors, and children.
Though I did not have a lot of contact with him as an adult, when I was a kid my Uncle Blaine was one of my favorite relatives. He could do all of the Muppet voices and did shows for us. He even looked kinda like a Muppet. He had curly red hair and a mustache and he could wiggle his ears. He could also do very realistic animal noises. The horse was his best. He said it was because his last name was Nay.
He often said if he was supposed to become like a little child in order to live with God again, then he just as well spend his time with children in order to do so.
Primary and Scout leaders fought over who got to have him serve in their organization.
His favorite calling was in the nursery. He was known as “Nursery Grandpa.” I can just see him performing Muppet shows for those lucky little kids.
My aunt asked me to sing at his funeral. I was honored, and terrified. I’ve sung at many funerals for both people I know and love, and people I’ve never even met. It’s hard either way. There in front of you sits a whole audience of people sniffling, wiping their cheeks and looking up at you with tears in their eyes. It’s brutal. The only way to get through is not to look at anyone while you sing. You find a brick on the back wall and sing to that.
The song my aunt chose was In This Very Room, which is one of my favorite songs, but it’s a serious tear jerker. Forget a funeral setting, that song can bring tears to your eyes even if you’re surrounded by clowns and balloons in a house made of candy.
I practiced and practiced. I wanted the song to become automatic, like I was a singing machine so I wouldn’t have to think about the words and their tender message.
The viewing was beautiful torture. I was determined not to let my emotions get the better of me. If I lost it early there was no hope of regaining composure enough to sing. I hugged my cousins. I fought back tears. I hugged my grandparents. I fought back tears. I hugged my aunt. I fought and fought back tears, but a few slipped out. I left the room quickly to practice my song some more and turn back into a singing machine.
He was smiling. I know that sounds odd, but he was. Most of the time the person looks peaceful but solemn. Uncle Blaine actually had a pleasant little smile under that cute red mustache. It was perfect. He looked like a Muppet taking a happy nap – a lovely way to remember him.
The service was inspiring – full of great tributes to him as a husband, father, grandfather, hard worker, scout leader, Nursery Grandpa, and on and on. One of his sons chose to speak on the lighter side because he said, “Dad loved good humor. He’s probably sitting on the back row and if I don’t tell funny stories he’ll fall asleep at his own funeral.”
Right in front of me was a flower arrangement given by his employer. Blaine worked in construction and they had arranged an array of wild flowers around his work belt and boots. I fought back tears.
When it was my turn, I got up and sang to a brick on the back wall.
In this very room there’s quite enough love for all of us.
And in this very room there’s quite enough joy for all of us.
And there’s quite enough hope, and quite enough power, to chase away any gloom.
For Jesus, Lord Jesus, is in this very room.
After the last note, I looked at my aunt and winked. Then I went back to my seat.
I don’t know if I’m becoming like a child as I should, but at that moment I cried like one.
My tears were not for Blaine. I think his heart stopped because it had already reached its capacity for love. My tears were for those of us left behind here on Earth who are still trying to let go of our stubborn, prideful ways and become more meek and submissive, like a little child – like Blaine.
Do you think perhaps there is hope for a willful adult who has a childlike love for the Muppets?
I think the answer is, “Nay.”