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I go to prepare a place for you.

John 14: 2
a sign on a building: I go to prepare a place for you.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”  I cannot read those words without hearing the sound of them spoken by my father’s lilting baritone as he officiated over the last service that some member of First Baptist, Union Springs, would ever attend.

The year was 1970 and the south Alabama sun was hot as I walked down the street to the funeral home, owned by Sam Wilson and cooled by window units.  Slung over my arm was a choir robe from church and a notebook of hymns, and as my mother used to tell, I waved at my brother, Frank.  Frank was mowing a yard.  It was a big yard and its care would earn him $3.   Just down the street was the funeral home, really an old, dilapidated house.  I would play softly throughout the whole service.  There was never cremation in those days, and more often than not, the casket would remain open. Neither would there be sung hymns or witnesses; just scripture, prayer and words of comfort and I would continue to play as the few attendees would file out on their way to the cemetery.    I would finish, walk home, and as mother told it, wave my newly earned $5 at Frank, still sweating and mowing.

50 years and much hair loss later, I still remember his voice and take comfort in the hope of those many “mansions.”

Dr. Charles Staples