A Word to the Wise: Memorials help our loved ones live on

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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Last Friday night I was driving on Natoma Street and a saw a small cluster of people gathered around a group of lit candles at Gionata Way. It was a beautifully striking sight in the darkness. Most likely it was some sort of memorial service. Or was it? It ate at me until I turned around to stop and see what was going on. Sure enough, some family members and friends were remembering Jordan Barkey and Carlene Baker. They were killed back in 2004 at that spot in a tragic motorcycle accident. I remember that event well although did not know the two people involved in it. It was yet another sad event we read about in the paper and see on the television news. At the spot of the accident sits a beautiful rock memorial with a plaque attached to it. Among its words, “Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.” Nearby a sign proclaims that this stretch of road is sponsored by their family and friends in the Adopt-a-Street program. I found it remarkable that after seven years people were still taking time to remember Jordan and Carlene. I never knew them, but remembered them as well. I often cynically say that one week after you are dead nearly everyone has forgotten you and, as John Cougar Mellancamp sang, “Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.” It’s not always true. Years ago the owner of Pizza Guys in Folsom died in a tragic accident on Highway 50. His teenage son was with him as I recall. It is one of the reasons I still give them my business. I never knew him but remember him as well. Recently in church we did what many churches do from time to time. It is a certain ritual we call “communion” or “the Lord’s Supper.” More so than for our family and friends, we remember Jesus long after his death and resurrection. Without such reminders we all too often carry on with our little lives and forget people, and things, that are very important and should be remembered. I never knew Jesus as He walked the Palestinian hills and died a cruel substitutionary death on Calvary, but last Sunday I remembered him. Not only does he live on in our memory, but through the Holy Spirit in our heats and lives as well. Tom Rupp is a Bible teacher at Capital Bible College and English Ministries Pastor at Zion Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. He can be reached at