When I was 18 my great-grandma passed away. She was ill for some time and it was not unexpected. Sad, but not unexpected. She lived a long, full life that I'm still learning about to this day. Unfortunately I don't have many memories of her and even less of her husband, my great-grandpa who had died when I even younger. I think that the following story will prove that I now have a memory of both of them that will last forever.
My mom and I were asked if we'd like to sing a particular song (which I can't remember the name of) at the funeral service. Of course, we said, we'd do it. My mom and I both are singers. No formal training to speak of, but we both love to sing and I think we both choke up when we have to sing in front of people. But this was different, we were honoring a lovely woman that deserved to be honored like a queen.
On our 12 hour drive to Missouri (where a lot of my family is) my mom and I practiced the song over and over and over again. We wanted the song to be just perfect. The only problem was that neither of us could nail an extreme note change. The song switches from really low notes to a really high note and it was impossible for us to get right. We sounded like drowning rats, it was awful. We had some good laughs about how we didn't think great-grandma would be impressed if we sang horribly at her funeral but we honestly just couldn't manage to make the note change sound decent. We decided that we would do the best we could and hope that no one would pay much attention.
My mom had forewarned me that during our singing she might not make it through because of the understandable amount of emotion, but that I would have to keep going. No pressure, right?
We finally arrived in Missouri and to the church where the funeral service was being held. Family members from near and far converged on this church. Friends and church family of my great-grandma came to show their respect. All tolled I'd guess there were around 75 people that came. So much for no one paying attention to my mom and I singing. I was a nervous wreck. I wanted to nail this song so much for my great-grandma. She deserved it and I just couldn't let her down.
The service started and it was a typical funeral with Bible readings and songs and talking about my great-grandma. As every minute tick-tocked by it was that much closer that my mom and I would be standing in front of these people singing our hearts out.
Soon, the minutes expired and it was our time to sing the much practiced song. We started out singing, both of us, and we did very well if I do say so myself. We had practiced enough to get the song just perfect, except that one note change that was coming up. About mid way through the song my mom stepped back and couldn't sing anymore. I had remembered that I needed to carry on and so I did. But that note change was coming up and I couldn't camouflage one voice if I messed up the song like I had done the hundred times previously.
One verse before that dreaded note change a man started singing along with me. His voice was loud and crisp and clear and beautiful. It was almost like he was singing into another microphone and I could hear his voice all around me. I relaxed some and kept on singing with him. I scanned the crowd in front of me looking for the man who was singing. Not one person was singing along with me. I glanced at the minister who was just a few feet away from me and he wasn't singing, either. I even looked to see if the organist, a woman, was singing. She wasn't singing either. Oh well, I thought, I'm sure it's someone in the crowd and I just can't see them.
The realization soon came that the difficult part of the song was coming up. Utter dread is what filled me. But when the note change came I got it! For the first time since I'd sang that song I got the awful note change and it sounded great. I couldn't believe it, I just knew I was going to make a total mess out of this lovely song.
The man and I finished the song, together.
After the service was over everyone went down a flight of stairs to the basement that was used for gatherings. We shared a meal and talked and remembered moments in my great-grandma's life. During the meal I asked my mom if she saw the man who was singing. She looked confused and said that she never did hear anyone singing except me. This was odd to me because she was standing less than 5 feet away from me, she had to have heard this man. I asked other family members, the minister and the organist and not one single person heard the man singing. One of my aunt's joked that maybe it was great-grandpa, although he couldn't sing at all. We decided that it must have be great-grandpa and that he acquired a singing voice while in heaven and he was just coming to help me out and to honor his wife at the same time.
I never did find one person that heard the man. And to this day I can still remember the sound of the man's voice and how loud and all encompassing it was. His voice surrounded me, physically and emotionally. He helped me make that note change and I just know it wasn't an earthly being that did it. No logical explanation could explain my angel that helped me sing that day.
I think I honored my great-grandma and someone honored me by helping me sing that song. My angel helped me. Wherever he is...