There are two things that I really dislike a lot - flying and funerals. This past week, I flew to attend a funeral. My sweet nephew Michael died in Pennsylvania, so I took a plane to be beside my sister and my family as we grieved for him.

The flights up and back to FL were not a problem. The only time I got nervous? Take-offs and landings and when I heard the landing gear go up and down. The noise scared me. My daughter Jennifer patted my white knuckles and said, "Relax, Mom, that's a good sound." The flights themselves were uneventful.

Attending Mike's funeral was an emotional time. Our whole family is bereft. Losing a 37-year-old is just not right. We have lost other members of our family, but they were elderly and ill. Mike was the picture of health and had a new baby to make his life worthwhile. A photo of the two of them brought tears to my eyes.

When I thought about writing this column, I had those two "F's" in mind - flying and funerals. However, three more "F's" cropped up - family, friends, and food.

Living in Florida means that I don't often get to see my young nieces and nephews and their children. I saw them all at the funeral. They are beautiful, caring people. The kids are amazing and enjoy each other's company. It was heartwarming to see the boys playing football on my sister's lawn (even though they got a little rough and had to be admonished).

Listening to my nieces and nephew reminisce about Mike was touching. They all had very vibrant memories of him. For his eulogy, each member of the family wrote memories of Mike. Even the youngest recalled Uncle Mike scaring her with a gorilla costume.

The viewing seemed to go on forever. So many friends showed up. People liked Mike. Tons of food were brought to my sister's house. Mounds of fresh flowers surrounded the casket. Folks called and offered their support and sympathy. It was comforting, but nothing could break through the deep sadness.

My mother died almost 20 years ago. At that time Mike was a high school baseball star. I have a photo of Mom and Mike taken right after one of his games. Mom was dying of cancer, but she still wanted to see Mike play. She sat in the car because the bleachers were too tough on her. After the game, Mike came over to the car and they shared a big hug.

Perhaps I should add another "F" to this column - forever. Mom and Mike are in each other's arms forever.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.