There has been a certain amount of sadness in our home with the loss of Teresa’s mom a short time ago. But now, our feelings are compounded by the untimely passing of our good friend Bertram Merrell. He has not been healthy for quite some time but it was still unexpected for him to leave on such short notice. Thankfully, there are loved ones around (in droves) to buffer the experience for his sweet wife.
The funeral for Bro. Merrell was attended by many of his old friends and a passel of family members. Each of his children spoke and shared memories of their dad while the congregation reached out with their hearts and hands to strengthen Victoria in her sorrow. She’s pretty tough, but the loss of her sweetheart has been a great strain on her feelings.
My hope in this post is to express gratitude for the strength that has been evident in a wonderful man and a righteous brother in the Gospel.
Bro. Merrell would never claim perfection in anything he did. He understood his limitations and did what all good men do – worked to overcome them and developed skills to counter his failings. Weakness is part of mortality but to allow shortcomings to control life was not the way Bertram Merrell worked.
He has had more than his share of sorrow – more than I think a person should bear – but his attitude never wavered and his faith in Christ was apparent in every circumstance. Often times I wondered if he might succumb to sorrow or exasperation. After all, his experiences were such that he could easily have broken down and drowned in the misery of despair. Yet, his smile was always clear, he looked everyone in the eye and greeted them with love, and his enduring affection for Victoria served as a beacon for his children and all else who knew him.
I will miss the loving guidance of my friend and mentor.
Let me share one incident that has had a lasting effect on my life.
Shortly after we moved to West Valley City, I was called to serve as counselor to a good bishop. The other counselor and the bishop were considerably older and more sedate than I so it became my goal to liven things up in our meetings. During one sacrament meeting I was conducting and, in a flippant manner, made some comment that was probably not appropriate (thankfully I don’t recall what I said but I’m sure it was out of order). Sitting in the meeting, on one of the front benches, was the Merrell family, quietly watching this young ‘whipper-snapper’ butcher another meeting.
Immediately after I made whatever comment I made, my eyes caught a slow but steady headshake from the personage of Bertram Merrell. At first I was a little annoyed but when I sat down and considered my own actions, I was mortified with what I had done. No one ever came to me and chastised me or called me out for my silliness, but that headshake from my friend was enough to remind me that I was not to act in a way as to detract from the meetings I was called to conduct.
These may years later, I still need the likes of Bertram Merrell to counsel and guide me so I don’t wander off the path. Men of the Bertram type are needed to guide others because they correct with a love that comes from the heart. It’s good to have people like that in our lives.
I will miss Bro. Merrell.
But I will see him again and he can guide me once more so I can be better.
Thank you Bertram for being my friend.