Most of the time we just get on with the routine of life, dealing with everyday business. But every now and then, do you pull up short? And think about things a bit more deeply.

Monday was one of those days for me. At least Monday afternoon and evening was; after I attended a very uplifting funeral service. It may seem strange, or even incongruous, to describe a funeral service as “uplifting” but in the middle of a feeling of grief and loss, it was just that.

The service was in St. Macartin’s Cathedral in Enniskillen for Elsie Fulton, who had passed away very unexpectedly. I thought of some of things that were said at the service and they struck a chord with me deep down.

I began to think firstly of Elsie and her family and friends. Then my thoughts went out wider, in almost concentric circles, to others who had been bereaved, to the communities affected, and on to wider society and the contributions we all make to that society.

Elsie Fulton wasn’t famous, but she was known and loved by many people. I met her years ago because her late husband, Sandy, was a mentor of mine. He, along with Willie McElroy, was my first coach and manager when I started playing in a proper team at the age of 14, and as fate would have it by the time I made it into Enniskillen Rangers first team, he was managing that side.

A brilliant footballer himself, Sandy had some passion for the game and for passing his knowledge and enthusiasm on to us. I can remember when a bad knee injury kept him out of playing, he’d pick me up to drive me out to Bellanaleck to watch a game. His girlfriend then, Elsie would be in the passenger’s seat, the lot of a football fanatic’s partner. She would sit in the car reading a magazine while Sandy would gleefully enjoy the game like a kid in a sweet shop.

I still remember the positive influence he had on me and it’s something I try to do with young players under my charge. Sandy passed away 14 years ago, and in recent years my contact with Elsie had tended to be when we saw each other at church in Rossorry, limited most times to a smile and a wave or quick hello as we passed in the car park.

At her funeral service, though, I got a real sense that Elsie also was a wonderful influence on her family and friends, and there were beautifully articulate tributes to her from her son Nial and daughter Debbie and a real sense of a life well lived.

She was just 68, but as Canon Ian Ellis said, it’s not how LONG you live, it’s how you live.

It’s good that in this part of the world, friends and family still rally round and support families who in the middle of their loss still want to be thankful for a life well lived.

Later that afternoon, I met a woman who hadn’t been to the service, but when I told her where I’d been, she said: “Ah yes, I remember Elsie in the shop. She was lovely, always friendly.” The very same day, another Fermanagh person was being laid to rest. I didn’t know Damian McGovern, who was 47, but wish I had. His passing affected a whole community, and not just because of the shocking nature of it in an accident at work. A husband and father of four, he was first and foremost a family man, but also steeped in community life not least in his magnificent work with Derrygonnelly Harps. Again, he was an influence for good, especially among young people.

I also heard this week of the passing of little Tilly Walker from Lack. Poor wee mite, just six years old and been battling cancer since she was two. Facing up to operations and chemotherapy, including long trips to hospital, her spirit touched a community far and near.

Elsie. Damian. Tilly. Three Fermanagh folk from three different generations, all taken from us far too soon. But all in their own way have touched the lives of those around us in a way which should not be forgotten.

Not so, at least not in a good way, the life of another man. Robert Howard died in a prison in England. It is not good to speak ill of the dead, and perhaps it diminishes me, but Howard was an evil monster. Over 20 years ago, Castlederg teenager Arlene Arkinson disappeared and there is no doubt Howard, also responsible for the abuse and murder of other girls, abducted and killed Arlene. Despite this, he steadfastly refused to end the agony of her family and would never reveal where her body was and has now taken that secret to his grave.

It is a stark reminder of the sick evil that is in our midst.

Interestingly, out of all the four people that I have mentioned in this article, Howard, at 71, was the oldest. Emphasising the point, really, that it’s not how long you live that matters. And it’s important to ask where we’re going to spend eternity.

It’s good, is it not, in the face of such evil to remind ourselves that we are fortunate to have so many good people. Many other families are missing loved ones, and every week somebody faces the same ordeal of loss. But the memories of what they meant, what contribution they made to us and to other people, are constant.

Weeks like this make us think; don’t lose sight of those thoughts or what is really important.