Keep your fork
On the Bright Side
July 7, 2018
This story I'm offering up today – actually a story and a little story within the story – is one of the favorite ones I've received lately. I don't know who wrote it (that "Author Unknown" is quite prolific!), but I think it is a wonderful idea, a wonderful message, and a wonderful way to think of things. Here you go:
A young woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. As she was getting her affairs in order, she contacted her pastor to discuss her final wishes. He came to her home and she told him which songs she wanted sung at her service, what scriptures she would like read and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
Their business concluded, the pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.
"There's one more thing," she said.
"What's that?" the pastor asked.
"I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."
The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.
"That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young woman asked.
"Well, yes, to be honest," the pastor said. "I'm puzzled by the request."
The young woman explained: "My grandmother once told me this story, and from then on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and to those who are in need of encouragement.
"Grandmother said, 'In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, keep your fork. It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie...something wonderful, and with substance!'
"So," the young woman continued, "I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: 'Keep your fork the best is yet to come.'"
The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her. He also knew that she had a better grasp of Heaven than he did, or, for that matter, than many people twice her age and with much more experience. The young woman knew that something better was coming.
Some weeks later, at the funeral people walked by the young woman's casket and saw the pretty dress she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question, "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled.
During his prepared message, he told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died, and about the fork and what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.
He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.
© Copyright 2018. Mel White, Tehachapi writer/photographer and co-owner of Tehachapi Treasure Trove, loves to see what's coming up next and rarely puts her fork down anyway. She has been writing about the bright side for various publications since 1996 and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.