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Thanks for coming -- from the heart

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

What's the best thing you can do for a funeral? Show up. I went to the funeral of a senior saint last week and what I heard from his family time after time was "thanks for coming." And that's all I did — I came. I showed up. How can that be so important?

Well, it is important. From the time we are infants until the day we die, while we don't necessarily think about it and we never say it out loud, in our subconscious feelings we have the desire to be remembered. "Remember me" — from the mighty to the most humble, presidents and dishwashers, we hope to be remembered.

We honor people with our presence. Kids want other kids at their birthday parties. If they thought about it they'd say "thanks for coming — you cared enough to come here. You remembered me."

But kids need more than other kids. They need adults too. That's why they pay attention to who shows up at their concerts, plays, programs, ball games and track meets. "Thanks for coming to watch me run." I once reminded a fellow dad that his son was an outstanding hockey player and he ought to come and see him play some time. He never showed. An empty seat.

When I was growing up, sometimes our family — mom, dad, three brothers and a sister — would drive out unannounced to Uncle Dave and Aunt Kate's farm for a Sunday afternoon visit. We never said "we love you" and we never hugged, but we cared enough to go there and be with them. And when we left, Dave and Kate stood on the road and watched us drive away until we went over the last hill. I know because I was watching out the back window of the car.

I once visited a guy in prison. I had to be searched to go in as a visitor. It was visitors day and family, friends and girlfriends were all over the place. It was generally a happy crowd. I didn't feel sorry for the prisoners being visited — most of them had earned their stripes (they didn't really wear stripes) — I felt sorry for the inmates who didn't have visitors. Some of them had probably been cut from family and friendship rolls. All of us visitors were told "thanks for coming" and believe me, those thanks were most sincere. We weren't honoring the prisoners necessarily, we were remembering them and supporting them.

It goes beyond family and friends. We support our schools by attending school events and games even after our own children are out of school. We honor and support our military by attending patriotic events. We support our community by attending community celebrations and events. We support our musicians by attending their concerts. The list goes on — confirmations, graduations, anniversaries, funerals and even rodeos if you please — we acknowledge, honor and support by just being there. We remember. We show up. Thanks for coming.