Funeral Talk by Nathan Eldon Tanner
Contributor: crex Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
I am happy to be here on this occasion. I feel honored in being asked to speak this day. As I was sitting here just now and contemplating, I thought I have I have known Ross as long as anybody. I met Ross back in 1923, 51 years ago. I knew Laura when she was just a little girl. I was courting her older sister at that time. In fact before that, in 1919 I knew "Loll". Pardon me for calling her "Loll", but that is the way I always spoke to her.
I would like to say a few things that may offer solace to the family. Ross and I have talked together on many occasions. He always said he didn't want anything said about him at the funeral, and I honor him that much that if he were here I wouldn't say it. But I also honor him this much that I would like to say a few words about Ross Wight. He was never guilty of trying to be something that he wasn't or make people think he was different from what he was. There are many, many people in the world today who do just that. They want people to think they are better than they actually are, but Ross never wanted that. He always had a feeling that he wasn't of any great value to the world or his family, but when you look at his children you realize that he and Laura raised a fine family. And he was so proud of those kids when they were doing what was right, even though he felt that he was not responsible for it, and he would not take any credit for it. That is all I wish to say other than to say this, that as he goes to the other side to those waiting, there will be a great reunion. There will be many pleasant home evenings, I can imagine.
When my father knew he had cancer he said to me one day, "You know, being ready for what is to come reminds me of when we were a family up in Canada where we had very cold winters. When winter came we did not have the house banked. We weren't quite ready for winter. That is the way I feel today, I am not quite ready to go when I am called home."
If we should ask the question, when would you like to die, or when should your husband die, or wife, or child, nobody would say this is the time. The only thing we would say is "Don't let him suffer too much." I'd like to read a sentence or two that I have here.
If it were left to us we could not choose when we should die. What is the proper length of life? Life eternal is the only accepted length of life. Death is as necessary as birth to eternal progression. We must not fear death but prepare for eternal life. We should realize that death is going to come to everyone of us. Either we are saying goodbye to those who have left us, or they will be saying goodbye to us as they leave us. And when will we know that we will be united again and live together? We are just more sure all the time that we will return and have a resurrection as we are that we will return from a trip. This is a great example. When Ross and Laura left here to go and have Christmas with their son, Gordon, there was no question about their returning, but there is greater assurance that we will be resurrected and return where we lived before that there is when we go on any trip, that we will return back home.
It seems to me that this is a wonderful time for us to remember just why Jesus Christ came to earth, if we stop and think of that for a minute. He came for one reason only, and that was to make it possible for us to enjoy the resurrection and to teach us the principles which would prepare us for that resurrection, that we might enjoy eternal life. It is a great opportunity for us as members of the church. We are so blessed to know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the earth was made as a place for us to dwell on while we prepare ourselves to go back into His presence. Everything was done for us, for you, for Eldon Tanner, or anybody sitting here. If we could just take it that way and realize that it must be important that we prepare ourselves to go back and enjoy eternal life. We will all be resurrected. We must know that the Lord gave His life for us that we might enjoy this great experience.
I have a little poem here that I would like to read. This is for you, Laura. It was a poem that was left by father for my mother when he knew he was going to leave. He said:
"If I should die and leave you here a while,
Do not be like others -- sore, undone,
Who keep long vigils by the silent dusk and weep.
For my sake, turn again to life and smile.
Learn in thy heart and trembling hand
To do something to comfort weaker hearts than thine.
Complete there, dear, unfinished tasks of mine,
And I, perchance, may learn to comfort you."
I will leave a copy of this with you, Laura. You can read that over, time after time, and realize that there are many things that you might do that he had not completed, and as you do it, it will comfort you in his absence.
It has always been interesting to me to see how poets and great philosophers understood something about the resurrection, because a great part of the world today do not believe in a living God. They don't accept Him at all when they speak of eternal life or resurrection. A minister said to me one day (we knew each other well enough to call each other by our first names, as we were in the Rotary Club together), "Eldon, do you really believe, as you teach, that there will be a literal resurrection, that the body and spirit will be reunited again?" And I said, "Why, I am positive of it. The Lord Himself said so. That is all they came to earth for to make it possible for us to gain immortality and gave us a plan by which we could prepare ourselves for eternal life, and I am telling you as positively as I can that I know these things are true." He said, "I wish I could believe that." And I thought to myself what a sad situation for a minister with a bog congregation who do not actually believe in a literal resurrection. But we will have a literal resurrection, and what a blessing it is to know and realize that we are the spiritual children of God, and the plan here on earth is for us to prepare ourselves to go back to His presence. I would like to read what Victor Hugo said: "When I go down to the grave I can say like many others, I have finished my life's work. My day's work will begin again the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley. It is a thoroughfare. It closes in the twilight to open in the dawn. My work is only a beginning, my work is hardly above its foundation. I would already see it in the morning and forever."
The testimony that Brigham Young gave us is this, that we have only on e thing to do while we are on the earth, and that is to prepare ourselves to go back to the presence of our Heavenly Father. And I would like to say to you people who are sitting before me today, if you are not doing that, now is the time for you to prepare, to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ taught by the church and restored in these latter days.
Richard L. Evans said: "Our Father in Heaven is not an umpire who is trying to count us out. He is not a competitor who is trying to outsmart us. He is not a promoter who is trying to convict us. He is a loving Father who wants our help and happiness and eternal progress and who will help us all He can if we will but give him an opportunity in our life -- an opportunity to do so with obedience and humility and faith and patience.
I would like to read one other poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox entitled "The Beyond".
"It seemeth such a little way to me across to that strange country, the Beyond, and yet, not strange, for it has grown to be the home of those of whom I am so fond. They make it seem familiar and most dear as journeying friends bring distant countries near. And so for me there is no sting to death, and so the grave has lost its victory. It is but crossing with abated breath to white, set faces -- a little strip of sea to find the loved ones waiting on the shore, more beautiful, more precious than before."
I read these poems for this reason. I am sure that the Lord has blessed all mankind with a spark of divinity. And I would say to those that Ross has left here, you have a responsibility not only to live and prepare yourself for eternal life, but to teach your children and help them understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that I can bear testimony that I know that God lives, that we are His spirit children, and as such we have every opportunity to develop and be like Him. The earth was created for us by Jesus Christ. He has given His life for you and me that we might go back to Him and have eternal life. I know that I have said that three times, but I would like to leave that thought with you more than any other thought. Let us all realize, as I said in the very beginning, that death must come to everyone of us, that death is just as important to existence itself as birth. We cannot carry on and enjoy eternal progression without death.
We know as we left to come to this earth, very likely we were concerned about what the place would be like that we were going to come to, and that is the way people are who die without a knowledge of the gospel. But we will have friends and relatives waiting for us and we will be welcomed as much as we were here, and as we prepare ourselves to go this route we will enjoy eternal life. The most important thing, brothers and sisters, is to prepare ourselves. Live each day the principles of the gospel as they were taught to us. To parents, I would say, teach your children that they may be prepare. And to the children, I would say, prepare yourselves that you might be with your grandfather and your father.
I didn't want to take time today to preach to you. I just wanted to leave a few thoughts and try to honor what Ross said: "Don't talk about me, and don't speak long." It is a joy for me to bear my testimony to you.
And I say to you, Laura, you are going to be very lonely and sad and wonder what is is all about. Your family will rally round you and they will support you. We love you, and anything we can do to help, let us do it.
This most important thought I leave with you. Prepare yourselves for immortality and eternal life, that you might be welcomed back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. These blessings I leave with you. I bear my testimony to you that you might have an understanding which will bring you solace and comfort. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.