Friday, March 26, 2010
Remembering Michael Anthony Dupre, son-in-law of Mollie & David Stanton
Click on any image to view it in larger format.
Memories Of A Gentle Giant Who Gave Much More To Life Than He Took
For 100 minutes in Mineola, Texas, a hushed congregation sat in the filled pews of First Christian Church, facing busy State highway 37 on a gorgeous Spring day the Lord had made for this special occasion: The home-going of Michael Anthony Dupre!
Immediately after seating, the silence was punctuated by the authoritative sound of trumpets, proclaiming to all the world: How Great Thou Art. Never before had this funeral service favorite hymn sounded quite so appropriate, given the volume and the verve of musician/vocalist Mike Sulen, whose very appearance--complete with the slender build and white beard often associated with the commanding presence of an Old Testament prophet--provided a subtle satisfaction to the solemnity of this day.
That would have been a hard act for anyone to follow, but the program in prospect was as unforgettable as the man himself, Michael Anthony Dupre. The cavernous beauty of this church was itself something to remember. Stained glass windows on two sides filled the sanctuary with Blessed Light, reminiscent of one of the scrolled art pieces highlighting the area above the pulpit: Jesus interacting with a child and appropriately titled, In His Light. The other pictured a shepherd with staff, recently reunited with a single sheep and famously titled, Lost No More.
Chaplain David Hicks chose a Scripture, beginning with Romans 14, verse 7, in which the Apostle Paul emphasizes how none of us lives to himself or dies to himself. Rather, we live unto the Lord and we die unto the Lord. Bottom line: We are the Lord's! To that end, he tells us, Christ both died and rose, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Michael was a Godly person, emphasized Chaplain Hicks, who explained that Michael is a very Biblical name, meaning one who is like God. Certainly those who knew Michael reveled in his Specialness, added Chaplain Hicks, who also read from Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, emphasizing the message of a time and a season for everything, including Michael's long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was tired and he was ready, said Chaplain Hicks: May God bless the memory of Michael, who was like God.
Here, Mike Sulen played and sang another hymn, In The Garden, helping us to remember Michael Dupre's love of the outdoors, and especially, gardening.
Michael's Pastor, Rev. Jim Tingle, read Psalm 22, in part because it was recited in full by Jesus while on the Cross, and also because this Psalm indicates how closely Jesus identified with suffering, something that Michael Dupre understood all too well for so many years.
In fact, one of our pew mates at this service of remembrance was Carolyn Beavers, who remembered when Michael and Sherry Dupre visited our Sunday School Class at Tinney Chapel UMC, with Mollie and David Stanton, eight years ago on March 3, 2002, when Michael was already in a wheel chair.
Rev. Tingle remembered Michael as a gentle giant, whose life was about giving rather than taking, who was blessed with a great sense of humor and who took pride in his Louisiana Cajun heritage. After reading Psalm 22, the Pastor compared some of its message to that found in the familiar Christian hymn, At The Cross.
Later, Rev. Tingle opened the floor to anyone who wanted to remember or eulogize Michael, and many welcomed the opportunity, including both family and friends.
Michael was praised as a devoted husband, usually unaware of the profound effect he had on others, as someone who commanded respect, someone who was thoughtful, tireless, intelligent, honorable, helpful and hopeful.
Perhaps as a kind of exclamation point to the Christian life led by Michael, this funeral congregation participated in a special service of Holy Communion. The elements were passed out by ushers to each pew, with participants immediately consuming the bread individually, but awaiting a signal from Rev. Tingle for a simultaneous swallowing of the grape juice/wine/Blood of Christ. It was, to say the least, a highly memorable and a most holy Big Gulp tribute not only to the Lord, but also to the memory of Michael, who--as Chaplain Hicks had already told us--was very much like God.
It was also time for the white-bearded musician/singer to capsulize the life of Michael Anthony Dupre with another of his unique renditions: Just A Closer Walk With Thee. At its conclusion, those who had not actually walked with Michael, arm in arm with Jesus, felt as if they had.
After Holy Communion, and bringing us to the 100th minute of this all-too-brief half day of tribute, it remained for Sherry to send us away with just the right mindset, as she read a poem, written by an author who remains unknown:
When I am gone, release me. Let me go.
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many beautiful years.
I gave to you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it's time I traveled on alone.
So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must.
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It's only for a while that we must part,
So bless the memories within your heart.
I won't be far away, for life goes on.
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can't see or touch me, I'll be near.
And if you listen with your heart,
You'll hear all my love around you soft and clear.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile and say welcome home...