I am writing this memoir for the benefit of friends and relatives who were not present at Anne's memorial service, and especially for the the ones in the Netherlands, who were not informed of Anne's passing. A recording was to be made of the service but the person in charge did not know how to operate the computer I was told after. His inability provides an opportunity for me to elaborate on the service on the 10th anniversary of Anne's death.
It was, and still is, the practice in our church to hold a sermon at a funeral service, Anne and I had decided against it because we didn't find much comfort in it but instead wanted to give more time to family and friends to say some words of comfort, and Anne herself had something to share as well.
Anne's open casket stood in front of the church before the family as a unit moved into the reserved front pews. It surprised me that the church was nearly filled.
Two candles had been placed on the platform in memory of Anne and our son and brother the eighteen year old Leonard Hendrik (Len,) who was killed in a automobile accident twenty-nine years before Anne's death.
The idea of the candles came from the funeral of my aunt Geertje Smid, the mother of the happy family in Limburg, as I had known them when I was a teenager, where two candles were used in memory of her, and her son Fokke who had died before her.
When my brother Frank shared this with us in a letter, Anne said
“We should do the same thing, if our time comes.” I knew Len was on her mind.
Several of the visitors had viewed Anne in the consistory room, where I was keeping her company. She was, as is the custom in Canada, embalmed and looked as if she was alive.
I had instructed the funeral directors not to use any makeup or lipstick, to which they obliged but still I found something missing - Anne wasn't wearing her glasses.
I was lucky to find her glasses at home and put them on her. That made all the difference.
As the family, grouped together, followed the pastor into the church where all were standing, I saw e friend near the middle path who had left our church for a more conservative one. I stopped to put an arm around him. His wife, also named Anne, had her birthday on April 20, just like my Anne, but was a year younger. She had cancer and passed away only a few weeks after my wife did.
After a word of welcome from the pastor, we sang a favored hymn In the garden, which we had sung many times with our retired neighbors when we coffeed with them in the evening.
She was a former Sunday-school teacher and he was a self proclaimed atheist, however raised a Mennonite.
When she played her little electric organ, he always wanted her to play this very hymn, of which he used to sing the tenor while I did the melody.
He sang so loud I had pull out all my registers to keep up with him. At the same time tears were dripping off his face. Some atheist. He liked to talk about faith but at the same time chided me to 'go to church.' He was a nice man and neighbor and I once said that he could not stop God calling him His child, even if he did not believe in God, as he claimed.
I read the letter of Anne to our daughters that Anne had dictated to me just before she died.
That letter is published in two parts in my blog of Aug. 11 2017 and Aug. 22 2017.
Before I read Anne's letter Jacki, my daughter and I after a last farewell look closed the casket.
A few dozen of my daughter Debbie's choir-sisters walked up to the podium of the church.
Anne and I heard one evening this choir of Sweet Adeline's, singing in a park across the Fraser river.
It was getting dark and I was getting a coffee for Anne, who by then was in a wheelchair.
It was very quiet and a fine mist began to form over the river water when I heard part of an announcement - “…with her beautiful voice is going to sing...”
Right after, the young woman started singing.
Her voice, full and clear, penetrated the darkness and mist, when she sang that wonderful song The River, by Garth Brooks, that starts -
A dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows
and the dreamer's just the vessel that must follow where it goes
try to learn from what's behind you never knowing what's in store
makes each day a battle just to stay between the shores.
Just as I handed Anne the coffee the woman started the chorus. I said
“Do you hear that?” Putting a finger over her lips Anne said
“That is your daughter singing.”
And I will sail my vessel till the river runs dry
like a bird upon the wind these waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination if I never try
so I will sail my vessel till the river runs dry
This time it was not Debbi but her choir-sisters singing
There's bound to be rough waters I know I'll take some falls
but with the Lord as captain I can make it through them all
Debbi's best friend Rosanne was the one who sang the chorus now
Like a bird upon the wind these waters are my sky
I 'll never reach my destination if I never try
so I will sail my vessel till the river runs dry
It was moving to see my granddaughter Lexie whip onto the stage. She was so free in her delivery reading Psalm 23 as she was doing the same at our fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Several members of the family, some very emotional, shared their love for Anne, after which we sang one of Anne's most loved songs Dwelling in Beulah land, my heaven my home forever, which is based on Isaiah 62:4, and sang many times by us with an very informal group of members of the CRC Living Hope, and since we lived on Sumas mountain, it was Anne who used to sing this with all her heart. Please check the 2 minute video, it is really worth it. The song in its time was highly popular with the American slaves.
I'm living in the mountain underneath a cloudless sky
I 'm drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry
o,yes! I'm feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply
for I am dwelling in Beulah Land
At the conclusion of the service we sang a hymn which means a lot to the Smid family – God be with you till we meet again. Our youngest brother Anne married his love Froukje in 1975, and the four brothers than in Canada, Durk, Sidney, John and myself flew over to witness the event in the Netherlands, where together with still another brother, Frank, we sang this song at their wedding.
Anne was buried in Tsawassen BC next to our son and brother Len.