Aaron Scott Palmer, March 22 1981 – January 11 2014
Our Father of love and mercy, you know better than any of us the anguish of our family, where joy of life has turned to the sorrow of death, a home that is today desolate by this sudden loss. Father, you know, since you gave your son for us. Give comfort in this numbing time of grief, as only you can through your Son, Jesus Christ, The messiah in whose name we pray. Amen
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Ecclesiastes 1:4-7 “A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south,
and goes round to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
In Matthew 5:4 Jesus tells us “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted… “
We are here to mourn, remember, and celebrate the life of Aaron Scott Palmer. Aaron was many things to many people, he was a son, a friend, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, he was like a father and a husband, and even a soon to be uncle.
To me, he was my cousin, a friend, and while growing up, he was the closest person I had to brother. We were born two weeks and two days apart. Before Aaron and I knew any better, my mom, and my Aunt Pam, used to get some strange joy from dressing Aaron and me like twins. Those photos certainly weren’t anything we’d have wanted our prom dates from high school seeing, but I can’t help but look back on them now with a smile and a tear. They say time flies, and they say the older you get the faster it goes. Probably the most telling photo is one of Aaron and me dressed alike, sitting on those little animals mounted to car coil springs that McDonalds used to have in their children’s playground. We were at the McDonalds along route 30 across from Greengate mall. Here it is, 2014, and both the McDonald’s, and Greengate mall are gone. We’ll probably all be just fine without McDonald’s and Greengate mall, but we’ll all be missing a piece of hearts without Aaron.
We are here to remember Aaron, and the good times, and all the fond memories we have. So, although I probably have enough stories to fill a book, I thought I’d limit myself to sharing a few that come to mind right away. I’m sure we’ll laugh, and I’m sure we’ll cry, but that’s what we’re here for.
I’m sure my grandma and pap secretly thought Labor Day, and the return of school couldn’t come fast enough. Aaron and I used to spend day after summer day at grandma’s house swimming, riding bikes, skateboarding, and pretty much just being ornery boys.
Do you remember those tube socks that were popular in the 80’s? They came up clear past your knees, and you wore them with shorts, even in the summer, and it makes absolutely no sense all, but that’s what we wore, and we all looked just as foolish. Well, Aaron and I used to take those tube socks, and while grandma and pap were in the house not paying any attention, we used to stand at the edge of the pool, and tie our legs and hands together with the tube socks, and pretending we were pirates, we would make the other, “walk the plank,” and push each other in the pool tied up. How we didn’t drown I’ll never know.
Then, after swimming half the day, we’d come in to eat. Grandma would make us Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. She’d make them one sandwich at a time, and cut them diagonally, giving us each a half. She’d bring the sandwich out, and set it on the table with a glass of milk. She’d leave the room and go back in the kitchen to make another sandwich. A minute later she’d come back with the next sandwich, and first sandwich was gone, and the glass of milk would be empty. This cycle would repeat over and over again, and ultimately it would turn into a joke for Aaron and me. By about the fifteenth sandwich and a gallon of milk later, grandma was onto us. Apparently, our joke wasn’t so funny to her. She’d yell and say we were just trying to see how much we could eat, which of course was absolutely true. We’d tell her that we were going to tell our parents we were hungry, and grandma wouldn’t feed us anything.
One time Grandma left for a few hours, and Pap was in charge of keeping track of Aaron and me. It was winter, and Grandma’s house was heated with wood. Pap was upstairs, and Aaron and I were downstairs. We put a scrap of wood into the wood burner in the wrong spot. A few minutes later Pap runs downstairs yelling, “What did you kids do?” The whole upstairs of the house had filled with smoke from wood burning on the wrong side of the wood burner. I think Pap was more worried about what Grandma would do to him, than actually getting Aaron and I in trouble. So, he opened all the windows of the house, turned the fans on, and aired the house out. When Gram returned home, he never said a word to her about what happened.
One time, uncle Gary took us to Potter County to their camp, Palmer’s Paradise. In the field, across the street from camp was an old school bus. All the side panels of the school bus had fallen off and were lying in the field next to it. This made the most absolutely perfect place to find snakes. After catching, no exaggeration, over 100 snakes that day, it was time to leave for home. Three of the snakes we had caught were a rare, non-poisonous snake, called a milk, or corn snake. We wanted to take them home, but Gary said no. We begged and pleaded, but he still said no. Aaron and I decided to take the three snakes home anyway. So, we put them in a shoebox and hid them in the trunk of the car. About halfway home, we stopped to eat and get gas. Aaron and I, covertly opened the trunk of the car to check on the snakes, but the box was empty, and the snakes were gone, loose in the car somewhere. We spent the whole rest of the ride home watching for the snakes, and hoping they wouldn’t show up on the dashboard or under Gary’s feet. We never did find them.
One summer my Uncle Frank took Aaron and me camping with him. We were staying at a KOA near Hershey Park. We scoured the woods around the campground for firewood, but other campers had picked the woods completely dry. Walking back to our campsite we came past an area with a small building, a tall fence around it, and a locked gate. Inside was the nice, dried, perfectly split firewood the campground sold to campers for outrageous prices. This was just what Aaron and I had been looking for. Aaron climbed the fence while I stood on the other side, keeping watch, and catching and piling the wood up. He climbed back over the fence and we proudly walked back to the campsite to show my uncle all the great firewood we had found. That night while all the other campers were stuck with small wimpy fires, we had a blazing fire and a huge pile of wood next to it. We were sitting, enjoying mountain pies when the ranger stopped by to tell us how he was on the lookout for people stealing firewood. Looking back on it now, my uncle probably knew where the wood came from, but he kept a perfect poker face. Uncle Frank invited the ranger to have a seat, and promptly made him a mountain pie cooked over our blazing fire. The ranger probably knew where our nice pile of wood came from too, but there’s almost no problem a pizza mountain pie can’t solve.
The stories I’ve told are mine, and they’re what I remember. I hope they help you think of the good times, and the good memories of your life, and your time with Aaron. He left us all too soon, and far too young, and absolutely under the hardest of circumstances. Aaron and I wanted to be farmers together growing up, and although I’m still not exactly a farmer, it was always my wish to be close again with Aaron like we were when we were young. I had hoped that someday we would be old together, and laugh over old stories, and tell tales of all the crazy things we’d done, and the good times we’d had.
Over the years we grew apart, and we would have brief periods of a rekindled relationship. The last time Aaron and I had this opportunity was at Courtney, my sister’s graduation. I was surprised to see Aaron there. After meeting again at the graduation, we had a period of about a year around that time when I would see Aaron frequently. I was married in 2005, and Aaron was my best man. We had dinner afterward at little diner on Route 40 called Glisan’s. After dinner before we all headed home, we hugged, and I said I love you. He said I love you too, and we both meant it.
We all knew Aaron had his share of problems, and I had always hoped that by being there for him, accepting him, meeting him where he was in his life, and by not reproaching him, I had hoped that he would feel loved and welcomed by me. I hoped more than anything that I could share the love of Jesus Christ with him. I’d pray, not nearly often enough, that somebody, even if it weren’t me, would have the chance to share the good news of the gospel with Aaron. I know it is only through Christ that we can overcome our sins, our problems and our addictions. Reading from the New Testament the book of Romans chapter 8 verse 37 tells us; in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. I believe Aaron wanted to be a conqueror. I don’t think he knew where to start. I wish I would have been bold enough or had the right words to say. I always thought there would be more time.
That’s the problem though, we always think there will be some other time to make things right. We spend our time on the things in this world that are of no real meaning. We worry about our jobs, sports, our houses, 401Ks and the cars we drive. Ecclesiastes 2:11 tells us, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done, and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” In chapter 14 verse 5 the prophet Job tells us, “A man’s days are numbered. You oh God know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time you have set.
These are sobering, and humbling words, but the Good News is that God sent His only Son Jesus Christ, that we might be comforted, encouraged, and ultimately saved through Him.
Titus 3:5, tells us, “Christ saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
In Matthew 11 verses 28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Aaron was a hard-worker, he was smart, athletic, energetic, and everyone loved him. I always envied the sheer number of friends he always seemed to be surrounded by. People were just naturally attracted to him. A couple years ago Aaron had some of his things in a box at my house, and I was helping to organize them. I came across a group picture from a week we had spent at Pine Springs summer church camp in Jennerstown. As I looked at that picture, it seemed to say so much. Why had Aaron hung on to it? What meaning did it have for him? Why was it significant? Going through the box I found other things that were dear to him, and other keepsakes he cared about. In this box, were photo albums of family, and friends, photos of vacations, and of childhood pets. As I sat looking at this box of cherished memories, I realized that no matter what callousness this world had tried to cover his heart with, this was Aaron’s heart, and deep down this was the Aaron we all loved, and this was the Aaron that loved us. There in those pictures was the Aaron that longed for things to be right. This was the Aaron that longed for the reconciled relationship with his mom, his dad, his sister, and his family and friends. As we depart from here and say goodbye, take with us these thoughts of the Aaron we loved, and the Aaron who loved us, and let our memories be filled with what is true and noble, and everlasting.
God of hope, love, and grace, we come to you in shock, and grief, and confusion of heart. Help us to find peace in the knowledge of your loving mercy and kindness. Give us light to guide us out of our darkness into the assurance of your love, and may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.