Thursday, March 10, 2016


Last week, the downtown location of our church burned to the ground. The church was built in 1888. It must have been an exciting day when the cornerstone was laid, most likely with great ceremony.

People mourned the loss of the building that hosted weddings, funerals, baptisms, community gatherings, Christmas programs, and Easter services. Older members would remember more formal times when Sunday school classes were filled with little girls in frilly dresses and little boys with their hair slicked down wearing uncomfortable shoes.

We are fortunate that First United Methodist Church has a south campus—the Celebration Center, where I go to early church. Sunday morning, a third service has been added to accommodate the parishioners of the downtown church.

We all know that church is not a building, it is the congregation. Yet, to see the rubble where a magnificent house of worship once stood brings a special type of sadness. The cornerstone was one of the few artifacts salvaged from the site.

Besides a physical stone, a cornerstone can be a person of prime importance. Many families have a cornerstone. Sometimes they don’t even realize who that cornerstone is until something happens to them. I’ve seen families fall into disarray when the cornerstone of their family develops Alzheimer’s.   
Jim was the cornerstone of our family, but we couldn’t allow ourselves to collapse when he started to change. Once we realized Jim’s dementia wasn’t going to get better, I expected to mourn the big changes. Over time, I realized the nuances of his personality changes were equally heartbreaking.

I think what I missed the most was our daily routine. I missed our conversations over morning coffee. Dozens of little moments throughout the day were out of kilter. He no longer dropped by work with a single red rose or took my car to the station to put gas in it. Day’s end was different. For two decades we went to bed early and both of us read our books.

New routines replaced the old. Conversations became one-sided monologs. Sometimes, I read to him. I learned to put gas in my car. I placed a single red rose next to his urn before they sealed the niche at the Veteran’s Cemetery.

Life goes on. It really is true that you don’t know how strong you can be until it’s your only choice.

The cornerstone in a building is a prominent, special stone at the intersection of two walls. The cornerstone from the downtown church was saved and placed in front of the Celebration Center where we placed small stones of remembrance on it.

In a family, the cornerstone is the pivotal person at the heart of the family. Once that special person is gone, we cherish our memories and  honor our loved one by living life to the fullest.   

Copyright © March 2016 by L.S. Fisher

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