I went to a funeral recently, to pay my respects to a wonderful lady, the mother of friends. I came away learning about life and being thankful.
You see, it is one thing to read or hear about how you should live your life. It’s another thing to see it in action and witness it firsthand.
The funeral was for Sharon Gjermundson, and more than a funeral, it was just that; a showcase for how to live your life.
Sharon McNamara married Stan Gjermundson in 1957. They raised five kids, three boys and two girls. All of the boys are great cowboys and ranchers. One of them, Brad, won four world rodeo titles. And one of the girls, Connie, is a top-notch singer and songwriter.
As a family they put Marshall on the map, despite the fact that it only consisted of a store and a post office, both in the same building, and a church down the road. And Sharon ran both the store and the post office and was a fixture at the church. As her pastor said, “Sunday just won’t be the same.”
Members of the Gjermundson family are North Dakota rodeo legends and rodeo royalty. They’ve won more trophy saddles than cable television has channels, from father, grandfather and great-grandfather Stan, through to the grandchildren. And they’re still collecting them.
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It’s a family that is quick to smile and more than welcoming. And with all of their accomplishments and accumulated rodeo fame, the real star of the show was Sharon -- mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was the backbone and the train station that everything else ran through.
You see, you can measure the effect you’ve had on your family by how much you’ll be missed by your grandchildren. And judging by the tears being shed at Sharon’s funeral, she had a big effect on her grandchildren. She was very much a part of their lives. And it appears that her love didn’t just trickle down, it flowed.
But I think it’s very clear that she wasn’t “the boss” of the family; she was the servant. As Pastor John Hagee says, “The measure of a man’s greatness is not the number of servants he has, but the number of people he serves.”
People think that status earns them respect. But that’s not true. It’s service that earns them respect.
Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Don’t you just love those people who stay in the background, living their life in such a very unassuming and kindhearted way? And then when they die, their funeral service is overflowing with friends and family who once again see the enormous effect that one good person can have on this world of ours.
Those people are like a good virus that spreads. Because you know that, with Sharon’s death, her family and friends, freshly awash with the message that was her life, will try their best to carry on as she did. And the rest of the world can be especially thankful for that, especially on this Thanksgiving weekend.
Kevin Holten is the executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.