Tag Archives: heaven

Rest In Peace K

When will I ever learn? While I whine, some one else may crash and burn.

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A Dad and This Boy

I thought that I was doing pretty well, then came along, this day

Two weeks ago today, Dad you were called home, out of the fray

 

Dad, I sat down at my laptop to start writing these thoughts I kept

An alert blinked, so I clicked, a picture of us opened up, I wept

 

I have said, I was blessed to do what God has allowed me time to do

I wasn’t done Dad, why did you have to leave now, I trust God knew

 

I always acted in love, knowing that one distant day you’d be gone

Leaving a hole here in my world, rhythm broken, no tasks to be done

 

You would just get better, together we would move on, more time to share

Then one April morning I rushed, to be with you, but you weren’t there

 

When do we get to share a coffee and relive the moments we love?

Now I sit here by myself, mulling over this and that, I look above

 

What about the road trips we talked of Dad, where would we go?

I drive for hours, all over the place, and creation, let me know

 

Dad, who is going to tell me stop, or to turn, on our way to Canada?

Dad, I’d stop every time you needed, regardless of my own stamina

 

Dad, can we gather round the table one more time and just let loose?

Oh, we’d laugh til tears, you, my siblings, Mom, this boy you called moose

 

I look at the hoop and wonder if I’ll ever see that arch ever again

Dad, you were one the best lefty shooters there has ever been

 

You weren’t well, but I never thought this day would come so soon

Dimly, I thought that maybe when the day came, I’d be somehow immune

 

Dad, I am not immune, I can barely get through a day, maybe even two

I can’t imagine the despair of those who don’t know the Truth you knew

 

I wouldn’t make it were it not for the message, the way to heaven’s door

As a child, I’d lay in bed and pray that prayer every night just to be sure

 

It was you Dad, you shared the gospel and led me to the foot of the cross

It was you Dad, you put it out there, heaven bound, no longer lost

 

And, Dad, one day it will be our great day of celebration and joy

When, we all get together in heaven, it’ll always be a dad and this boy

 

How we will laugh, and in perfect health, we will walk the streets of gold

Dad, we will all see you again, in the land where we will never grow old

 

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This is the picture that popped up on my laptop today.

Dad

Dad and Jacqueline warm up by the stove on Feb. 8th, 2016. (c) 1inawesomewonder

Dad and Jacqueline warm up by the stove on Feb. 8th, 2016. (c) 1inawesomewonder

 

This morning I woke up for the very first time in 48 plus years, without a Dad. Well, without my Dad living here on this earth. My Dad, John R. Beal, passed away yesterday morning, April 14, 2016. I can honestly say that my initial thoughts and feelings of pain and finality, were followed quickly by the sense of relief that my Dad suffered here no more. Although the former thoughts and feelings will stay close to me for some time, I know complete peace as Dad made his way to his eternal home yesterday around 8am.

Last night I worried with my wife as I told her the kind of things that I (and possibly others) expected from myself as it relates to writing about such things, these tributes and remembrances. We talked about how I had already written two or three of these things for my Dad before he ever passed, as I knew this day was coming. Honestly, I don’t know that I like what I have written previously, so here we are together on the edge of this new precipice I face this morning. I asked her where or how I should begin. Then I told her what I planned on doing to even start the writing process. I told her a few of the steps I would take to nudge myself up to this electronic writing pad, and how I see it playing out in my mind. Then she said to me, that’s your intro, just write what you told me, and go from there.

After an exhaustion induced sleep I woke before sunrise. I stepped right into the places I’d rather not trod because I knew that is where I needed to go. First, I signed-in and looked at my electronic edition of today’s New Hampshire Union Leader to find the Obituary written for my Dad. I noticed that just like we learn to arrange ourselves over the course of our entire lives, Dad was named in a list. Just a list of names, people who also found themselves named in obituaries this date. I looked through all of the names, some that I knew, and others I did not. I went back to the list somehow wishing there was a different way to share these people with the world. Imagine all the years, all of the moments, and the history each of these folks carried with them, leaving such a void in someone’s world. Just a list, get in line, because that’s how we keep order. I opened the link to my father’s obituary and I read it. My chest heaved violently as I expelled emotion and sorrow laden breath after breath as fast as my body would allow. Tears streamed from my eyes and I had to clear them several times just to read the words on the screen, even though I already knew what they said. I stopped and whispered a silent prayer hoping there were people somewhere eagerly looking for their loved ones brief story for each person on this list. Not much would seem worse to me than a life story lived right in front of us that no one wanted to read.

So, I have already used more than 500 words to get to my, quote, unquote, start. The steps I told to my wife last night, start with the playing of some old country/folk style music. I opened up my Spotify app and went to the playlist entitled, Old School Country, and I hit the “ShufflePlay” button. My dad enjoyed this music thoroughly and this playlist wouldn’t even exist were it not for him and the time I enjoyed trying to make a painful day for him pass just a little easier over the last few years. Just last Thursday, I sat with him, he in his wheelchair, me in a vinyl, beastly looking contraption that looked and felt like it could withstand the World Wars. We sat facing each other, next to his nursing home bed. He didn’t say very much that day, as had become more and more the norm these last few months. But I noticed that his face and his eyes looked more alive than I had seen in months. I took joy in that smile whether it’s effect reached the rest of his face or not, because the eyes gave it away. We sat, just he and I, for 90 minutes, listening to this playlist. I knew he thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent, as did I. His 87-year-old roommate, Ken, and Ken’s wife Arline, both came back to this little concrete square in a mostly forgotten wing of some old nursing home that most would rather hurry past than to deal with the scene found inside. There was Dad with his grinning eyes, his oldest son just trying to make some piece of this existence better, if even for just 90 minutes, an 87-year-old former engineer, and his wife, all sitting around together, humming tunes, singing some words, and making the otherwise drab and pending finish line a little more tolerable. A couple of aides came in to work with Dad’s roommate for a few minutes and they were smiling and repeating words to some of these old songs by the time they left. I was just happy to be there. I was happy to see Dad, happy.

That visit with Dad in the nursing home was the last time I would see my Dad alive. Really alive. I was with him most of the day, in the hospital on Wednesday the 13th, but he wasn’t really alive. He had vital signs and they were good. But he was completely unresponsive and never opened his eyes. Our family was there all day, and Mom spent the night in a chair (similar to the one I described in the nursing home) next to Dad.

Yesterday morning, early on, messages started coming in from Mom and my brother, and I knew the end was closing in. By the time I rushed from my home, leaving the twins to their care, Dad was already gone. Before I left, I had received a message that took my breath away, and I started to cry. Theodore, who will be 6 years old next week, was up early with me, while his twin sister Jacqueline was still sleeping. Theodore saw me cry, and he already knew that Grampy was not well. Teddy told me, “Daddy please don’t cry. Daddy don’t cry. It’s going to be okay.” And he came over to me to give me a hug and a kiss. I pulled myself together quickly and we talked quickly of Grampy. I told him we could pray, as we had been doing quite often for days, weeks, and months. Theodore walked around the family room praying out loud for Grampy, and praying to himself, as I had told him some time ago that God heard those prayers too. He turned to me and said, “Dad I said some special prayers, and I really think they are going to work for Grampy.” I assured him they would and I prayed too. Minutes later I would piece together, that it was right at that time that Dad’s time here had expired.

Dad and I, four years ago today. (c) 1inawesomewonder

Dad and I, Father’s Day, 2014. (c) 1inawesomewonder

After a long, long day I couldn’t wait to return home and talk to my wife and kids about those prayers. Because they did work. We prayed for direction. We prayed for Dad to feel better. We had prayed that Dad could again, come home. At the same time my Mom sat bedside with my Dad and prayed the same. Then at 8am, on Thursday, April 14, 2016, God answered. God raised my Dad up for just a second in Mom’s arms, and as Dad breathed his last breath here, our Heavenly Father took him home. Prayers answered. Thank you Lord.

I drove down our driveway knowing Dad was already gone. I was in a hurry to get to the hospital, but not really. I turned onto the country road that connects to our driveway. Cars came and went. People moved about. Down an old country road visible on my drive, I noticed several turkeys doing their morning thing. I thought about the huge hole that now existed in my world, but also noticed how many folks I passed, who were in no way affected. The world still turned, and the noise of daily life pressed on, but my world had just forever changed. I made my way to the hospital, not holding anything against any of the folks I saw for not having been affected by the sonic boom that had just gone off in my own life. I won’t get into the room, the family, and the scenes that unfolded among ourselves. But we were there, all of us together. Dad was still in the bed, and I kind of wished I didn’t have to see him there. Because that was just a body, Dad was gone, and this vessel that housed his soul and all of who he was, was just empty, used, and no longer containing my Dad. I can’t say that Dad left that body better than he found it, but I know he got absolutely everything he could, out of it. “…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

See, Dad was born in 1941. Had he been born during the last two decades it’s likely he would have been tagged, or somehow otherwise labeled, as having a learning disorder or disability. But, as God and His perfect timeline would have it, Dad was born in July 1941. I am certain he suffered in some ways from the forcible learning/teaching habits taught from some book, that until recently, nobody thought to re-write, that incorporated the will to push all pegs, even in their asymmetrical diversity, through the same hole. Dad was different for sure. Thank God. These battles, many of which, maybe not another soul knows of, but I am certain they happened; Turned into a drive and determination that Dad displayed in areas where most of us wouldn’t apply. His resiliency was more between his ears, than anywhere, because that’s where the battles were fought, and where the weakness resided. I am saying that his methods, comprehension, and responses were questioned as a matter of the brain he was wired with. He was sound. He just had limitations in the physical aspects of his brain. God created him that way, and for 74+ years he worked with the equipment he had. He did what he had to, and he got by. Nowadays maybe he would have been labeled, separated, and led away from the pack, stunting growth, killing creativity, and who knows how that would have gone.

God knew what He was doing though. Dad was one of the best preachers I ever heard. Dad could mix humor into any sermon, illustration, or story without ever being silly. Greater still, you knew exactly what he meant, and his relatability was second to none. God gave him words, thought patterns, and a perspective to pull things together in a light that changed lives, touched hearts, and led to the eternal saving of souls. Honestly, what greater purpose could a man be called to? That was my Dad and he was great at it.

Listen, I just lost my Dad, and maybe I am gushing a bit, but he wasn’t any more perfect than any of us are. But I choose to hold him in regard to the greatest attributes of his life. He wasn’t terribly hands-on as a father once I got a little bit older. He loved and he led, but he did so at arm’s length. He was proud of us, and he loved nothing more than to watch his kids compete or perform. He taught us right from wrong. He did play with us, he was there. I don’t have a list of things he taught me or things he always said. See when you have every dinner together and spend so much time together as a family, all six of us, in those moments there are countless lessons, examples, and quotable spoken contribution. It was on us to pay attention, and we did. He didn’t come out and say this is how to be a man, this is how to do this or that, but his commitment to the Word of God, the teachings found there, and the scriptures was a lesson anyone could benefit from. He was a family man. We were a family that was together a lot. We gathered on holidays with extended family, and Dad would have it no other way. As a matter of fact, Dad never let on that we all were anything but family, even with his in-laws, the Peterson’s. The Beal’s and the Peterson’s, we all carried on as one family and we have for more than 50 years. That was a credit to my Dad and my Mom. The greatest gift he left me was the way to heaven. There is but one way. “…I am the way, the truth, and the life…”.

Dad did enjoy an occasional treat. (c) !inawesomewonder 2016

Dad did enjoy an occasional treat. (c) 1inawesomewonder 2016

It would be hard for me not to recognize something that hits way too close to home. I am my father’s oldest son. In many ways, I think that I am more like him than any of my siblings, but that’s just what I think. Throughout my lifetime there have been pictures of me that compare closely to those of my Dad at the same age. But resemblance isn’t everything, his blood runs through me. This apple landed right next to the tree. My sense of humor runs in the family, actually in both my Moms’ and Dads’ families alike, but there’s no question that Dad raised mine, ours, to a new level. Family dinners and get-togethers were among the funniest and most creative humor any of us have ever witnessed. Truly, brilliant at times, and just plain hilarious at other times. Thank you Dad. I also challenge those who really know me to examine how I have handled or treated you and yours, not for my sake, but because I am my father’s son. If I were fortunate enough to score a positive vote in your records, please know that my Dad would score ten times that. If I scored negatively, then that is on me, and you saw a version of me that should not have surfaced. Please forgive me. See, me, and my generation, we hope to be measured one day in the same breath as the great people of the generation before us. In that generation the simplicity of life lived was the stunning portrayal choreographed by the depth found in the intricacies of magnificent minds with the perceived time to approach extraordinary. I am just a man, my Dad was a great man, a great man of God. His new place in heaven ensures what should always be, that I’ll look up to him. I do, and I will.

Dad didn’t want to leave this world but he did want to go home. We found out after the fact that he had shared with nursing home personnel on Tuesday that “he was ready to go home.” To his heavenly home. You know it’s kind of interesting to think about the state of the world we live in today, is the same world we cling to at the end. In our infinite mortality, we fight to stay here just a little longer, as those gathered long for the suffering not to leave this place. Two points that I choose to notice, one, that it’s the people not the place, we long to stay with; two, our heavenly home that awaits is so much better than anything we can comprehend here.

For the last five years or so, I have spent a lot more time with my Dad than I had previously as an adult. I heard a lot of stories over and over, and other simple things that are neither here nor there. But really, I learned a lot about Dad, and gained another level of respect for him, especially as a man of God. One thing that was always very present with Dad, and that I have seen present in many others over the years, were his smiling eyes. Or as I might dare say, a saved person’s eyes, or Christian eyes. In those eyes, the whites are white, and the light shines a little more bright. These windows to the soul are clear, and they sparkle, for in the depths of those saved souls, fear does not dwell. Even through these difficult months, Dad’s eyes rarely dimmed. And in those eyes, I saw so much love.

In the end of Dad’s time here on earth he suffered. He fended off so many attacks on his brain over the last 11 years. Much to all of our dismay, and opposite of our best wishes and prayers, Dad never regained the elevation in steps that he had previously climbed to once a medical event had happened. He got close. He often times maintained, which is still susceptible to the aging process we all face. Though he battled, he never could advance against the damage done to his command center. He lived on. He loved on. He smiled often. He welcomed all whether we knew it or not. In his fashion simple things continued to be his most revered things in life. Right up to the hands that held his while he grabbed at his last breath.

Today, April 14th, as I sit in the bedroom I grew up in, I write these words with tears running down my face. Finality has a way of messing with our minds and our emotions. This too shall pass. And I smile when I write triumphantly that today, Dad is home. Dad is happy. Dad is healthy. And although you folks reading this or hearing it, may have known him as John, Pastor Beal, Uncle John, brother, brother-in-law, Reverend John Beal, or Mr. Beal; I am happy to have always known him as Dad.

Our Dear Marjorie

I was so happy to get home late last night. Mom and I made amazing time returning from an emotional afternoon spent in Woodstock, NB. We are so thankful for the opportunity we had to get up to Canada and celebrate Marjorie’s life with everyone, even if only for the afternoon. I rolled into my yard at around 11:30pm last night, after a 770 mile round-trip that had started some 18 hours prior. For my own personal reference, our family trip to the Outer Banks this summer to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary was only a 714 mile ride to get there. Anyways, I move on.

I am far more exhausted this morning than I thought I would be, honestly. The drives are tiring, but the emotions and thoughts that overcome me on days like yesterday take more of a toll on me I think. Certainly, the combination is powerful, and I am feeling it today for sure. That said, I would do it again today if I had to.

Honestly, since I wrote the poem and tribute to Marjorie on Friday night, I think I have actually experienced more memories, more thoughts, certainly more emotions, and at least a few dozen moments wishing I could concisely share what rambles through my mind.

I will start here. To the family and friends who cared for, saw things through, planned and executed the last few days’ events, and who lingered until all got their fill, thank you. Thank you so very much. You’re all awesome and our dear Marjorie would have been proud I am sure, smiling somewhere just outside of the limelight, at all of you, the ones she loved so very much.

I pulled into a parking spot, assessing my own ability to park symmetrically between the painted lines, upon my exit of the vehicle. Truthfully, I could have squared the vehicle up a bit better, maybe giving myself a grade of a B- for the parking job, but I was tired, and too focused on getting across the street and into the awaiting funeral home to do anything about it then. That thought only stayed with me for a few steps thankfully.

Mom and I crossed the street and found seats, oddly enough next to relatives (pretty good chance that happens at any gathering where Peterson’s are present), once we entered the funeral home. I sat there, silent for the most part, looking around the room. I counted seats on both sides of the aisle, 9 on one side, 8 on the other. There were 8 full rows of 17 seats and then some more seats behind, a small standing room area, and then more seats off to the side. I saw people I knew, people I thought I knew, others I figured I should have known, and then others I knew that I didn’t know.

I glanced forward from my seat six rows deep. The distance was perfect I thought because being any closer to the open casket might have been more than I could of handled. I don’t really have a problem with seeing my loved ones in that state, but this time I had decided that the pictures I had in my mind from my numerous visits with Marjorie last year and this year were far more authentic Marjorie than anything I knew I would see again here on earth. I could see her from where I sat and I allowed my eyes to wander her way numerous times as a human being would be prone to do. Eventually the casket was closed and I wasn’t upset about that either. Before it closed though, I had told myself to focus my glances to the area around, and including, Marjorie’s lips for one very good reason, in my mind anyways. I had observed in recent years that Marjorie could say a lot in just the positioning of her lips. Happy. Content. Stern. Commanding respect. Pleased. These are just a few words that I felt she could portray without saying a word.

I noticed that the crowd was large, maybe 150 people or so. Many of these folks grew up with Marjorie, literally within a couple of miles of the old farm. Many, of course, were from the massive Peterson family, who mostly started their lives within a few miles of each other too. There were others too, people who Marjorie met and became dear friends with along her way through life. Maybe you’re impressed with crowds or numbers, and maybe you’re not. But I would be willing to bet that the numbers I would find most impressive would be something along the lines of the number one, and then words numbering a few. I’ll explain. The number one would be the answer to the question of Who or How many were at the center of Marjorie’s life. The One, God. That was clear and everyone knew it. Beautiful. Numbering in maybe a few would be the number of different words used to describe Marjorie if each of the 150 or so people present yesterday were asked to describe what she represented to them personally. I say “numbering a few” because Marjorie was Marjorie, to you, to me, to the old, to the young, to all. I found that she was consistent, she was constant, she was a Christian, and she was conscious. No matter how you would assess her, she was those things, over and over. She was Marjorie.

The service continued. The stories were shared. I thought to myself how privileged I had been. Privileged because almost every single story told, I had heard before. Not because I need to know it all, and clearly you must have figured by now, that I don’t know much. But because I had either heard the stories from Marjorie directly or in her presence, which of course offered her a chance to refute or to expand on any shared story. See; I was the fortunate one. As the stories unfolded, and the message was shared through words and song, my mind wandered, but never left the room. I thought more on Marjorie, her life, the impact she had and the legacy she left. Then I heard something I hadn’t fully expected to hear.

“There was a cousin…There was someone…Stephen Beal. Is Stephen Beal here…Can you raise your hand or stand up if you’re here…” Ummm, yes, I think that would be me, my mind answered. My hand went up. And from the podium I was asked if I wanted to read a poem I had written. Rising from my seat, I responded, “I’ll give it a shot.” Honestly I was hoping my legs would actually lift me and carry me to the podium at the front of the room. They did. Thankfully.

In total honestly, the next, I have no idea how many minutes I was up there, were and are a total blur to me. In my mind I picture a tornado spinning quickly, randomly, spilling forth a few words here and there, none of which make sense together. That’s how I remember my moments at the front of the room until I started reading the poem. The poem, which was really some rearranging and rewriting of the words of an old Ray Charles/Willie Nelson song, that for some unknown reason I had connected to the state of Marjorie as I pictured it in the moments before she was called home. This summer I had visited with her in July and she was so calm as it related to her end of days. Somewhere in my mind’s eye, while listening to the original song and lyrics, a picture started to develop in my imagination and the words followed. Ultimately it became a simple revision to the words of the song, a poem if you will. The poem, I renamed simply, Seven Irish Angels. I read the first verse and I think it went alright. Then I heard what I thought was someone in one of the front rows, let out a sob, then another. I paused. The pastor (sitting behind me) prayed a one line prayer for me, I heard it, and it helped me get over the lump in my throat and I finished the little poem. I think I said something mildly coherent upon finishing the poem and I returned to my seat. I was happy that nobody escorted me from the building as I felt my performance was probably worthy of sitting out in the parking lot until the grown ups were all done.

I poke fun at myself and try to stay grounded completely. I try not to pretend to be something I am not. With complete sincerity, I am deeply honored and genuinely thankful that I was called upon yesterday, and it will be a memory, blurry or not, that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. Thank you all for the opportunity to be included in the celebration and remembrance of our dear Marjorie.

Marjorie’s daughter-in-law Sherry, whom I had never met before yesterday, called me at home on Saturday and asked me if I was coming up to the funeral, and if I wouldn’t mind sharing something from the things I had written during the service. I told her I honestly might not get through it because I do get emotional pretty easily about things near and dear to my heart. But I wasn’t opposed to it either. I never did hear what the final plan was until I was sitting in the service and my name was called. Which, honestly, was completely perfect.

Before I went up front to fumble around with the seemingly millions of thoughts running through my mind, none of which included reading the poem, and sometime since Saturday’s phone call, I had been thinking about being in the presence of Marjorie. I had shared the news of Marjorie’s passing with another friend of mine while at my son’s hockey game on Saturday evening. I described to her how I felt to sit down, alone, and just to talk with Marjorie. And had I the time, and control over my mind at the front of the room, I would have shared something like this.

We all have our place. Our place where we can melt into the backdrop just a little bit, and just be. A place where time doesn’t seem to be measured and, if it is being measured, we really don’t care. A place where sound is optional. Silence is golden but so is any other sound in this special place that we allow to reach our ears, or our conscious minds. A place where upon arrival little effort is needed to just be there and take in the things we find so special about the place. One such place for me is alongside a cold, gentle flowing, quietly babbling, forest stream. Seeking out the hollow of an old stream-side tree, or the comfort found on a moss covered log or stump where I can rest my weary bones, ease my saturated mind, and listen to the things I feel like letting in, all of which come directly from the creatures and landscapes that God Himself created. So, as I mentally cozy up to this little stream, this place where I can just be; I think also of time with Marjorie. Sitting with Marjorie, to me, was a similar experience. There was peace. There was calm. There was no agenda or preconceived anything. In her peace, behind her smile which shone through her eyes, you knew there was something bigger, something better, that she fully knew, understood, and trusted. She was at peace with God. And so, there was just time spent with her. I don’t think it would have mattered whether words were spoken or not, I think being around someone so unassuming, so completely at peace, and so at ease being in her own skin, was a refreshing trip all in its own.

Back to the service…back in my seat…back in my mind…I was sure I had butchered the entire time I spent up front. Trying to focus, gather myself, and listen to my three cousins sing Because He Lives, I realized that I had quoted lyrics from this same song in the tribute I had written three nights before. Wow! That’s pretty awesome I thought.

Quickly, or so it seemed, the service came to a close and it was time for the immediate family to proceed to the cemetery for the burial. The rest of us would cross the street and await at the family reception set up in the church cafeteria/gymnasium of sorts.

The reception, I was anxious to attend. This was the time and place to meet those I had not yet met and to visit with the many dear family members, among others, from the generation I so revere. What came next was more than I could have imagined and was more proof to me just how feeble my mind is and how singular my thoughts can be. I thank God because the picture He sees is so much bigger than the picture I see and I am so glad to have the relationship with Him that I do. He is great. I am nothing without Him. As it should be.

I picked a seat in the corner and although I had already driven more than 370 miles and sat through a funeral service to get to this seat, I just wanted to sit. Well sort of. I also wanted to visit with family. I wanted to stand and give loving, supportive hugs to those so many around me that I love so much. I wanted also to stand and talk with people while visiting, but for the immediate future, I just wanted to sit. So I did.

Family filtered into the big room. And I don’t think the background matters no matter where we might be or for what reason, when I see those familiar faces present, the place is more secure, it’s safer, it’s better, it’s more friendly, and more importantly, God is among us. Mostly they migrated toward the corner of the room that Mom and I, and a few others were already in. I stood, I gave hugs. I visited. I laughed, we laughed. I received a lot of attention; attention I was not expecting, nor was I looking for it. I was pleased and relieved to receive positive feedback regarding my time up front. I shared with my Aunt, as I had earlier in the day with my Mom, that I felt we were in the right place by deciding to make the trip to attend. I explained my justification by saying that when I am 80 years old I would not like to look back at the last 48 hours and wonder how it was possible that I could not have been there. Then Marjorie’s immediate family returned from the cemetery to join us all.

More people than I can remember meeting, introduced themselves and offered positive words about my time up front, about the choice of song to rearrange words too, and also to share the emotions upon reading what I had written as well as their own connections to Marjorie. I was overwhelmed. I was humbled. I was deeply honored. I was talking to one person after another. Did I mention how humbling this was? Wow. Overwhelming to say the least. In my mind, I was just another among many who was fortunate enough to know Marjorie.

I just wanted to be big and strong enough to hold up anyone and everyone in the immediate family who had pretty much been at Marjorie’s side day and night for hours, and days at a time as her time drew near. I wanted to be the assurance that everything was going to be okay and to redirect the suffering and pain toward the glory Marjorie now understood fully. I wanted to hug and to hold the sisters until their weary, saddened faces were alive and bright again with loving smiles. I wanted to be the man in person, not just behind a tribute or a poem, to her boys and their spouses of whom Marjorie spoke so often and spoke so highly of. I wanted to be the message anyone needed to hear, or to be the living example of how I felt about dear Marjorie. I had asked God for strength, for peace, and for direction in all of these matters. He delivered.

I write because I have found that after many years on this earth that I actually enjoy it. Nobody from my school days would ever believe it to be true, but it is quite true. In these situations I write also to feel. Yes, I cry. I cry a lot when I write on these matters, these tributes, these memories, but I figure if I can’t cry by immersing myself wholly into these scenarios where others flee for the fear of feeling pain or due to the real uncertainty of where their loved one may have ended up, then when am I supposed to feel, to cry? I jump in and let the feeling, the pain, the joy, the whatever it is just wash over me and allow each second upon second to fully develop revealing ultimately, peace with the situation. I also talk to God a lot in these moments. A lot. It’s how I deal with it. I truthfully hope that my sharing then is a help to others in some way, shape, or form.

My parents don’t know this fully, I don’t think, but there’s some history here for me. When I was a boy I would often times sit at the desk in my room and write out simple sermons that my Dad might be able to use from the pulpit. I think I only gave him one actual sermon in writing of which I am sure he didn’t use, but he thought it was good. I wrote out others, and wrote still more thoughts and ideas that never formulated into anything of structure. My Dad, my Uncle, and my Grandfather were all preachers, among others. Honestly I can say that as my father’s oldest son, I never did want to be a preacher. Nor, did I ever become one. But I did pray often, throughout my whole life and even into the present, for the opportunity to be the message or share a message, or to somehow possess the tools in order to do either. Now, as I alluded to before, I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and I don’t always see the forest through the trees, and I am certain I have missed signs, ignored them, or misread them, or all of the above over the years. Writing though seems to be a medium by which I have been able to reach people and share a message, a mindset, a belief, a faith, or even a way of looking differently at things that perhaps should have been noticed all along. I can’t say for sure really, but I share my perspective honestly.

So, there I was in the corner of a big room, in a church in which I had never been in before. There were many, many people around me that I knew well, many I knew of, and many I didn’t know at all. The outpouring of thanks, and recognition of similar perspectives, among heart-felt feelings for our dear Marjorie followed me all around the room. I am still overwhelmed and humbled by all of the greetings, kind words, well wishes, warm thoughts, hugs, tears, outpouring of emotions regarding this person we all loved so much, and on it goes. I told many of you that there were more thoughts I might share. I just needed to try to arrange this load some. Hopefully, among these more than 3500 words I have shared here, there is some resemblance of organized thought here with what you are reading.

Finally, this isn’t about me. This about our dear Marjorie and even more important than that, it’s about her faith. Because to know Marjorie and not know her faith was to have never met Marjorie at all. These last few months, or even years, Marjorie showed us, even if we were barely paying attention what a presence God had in her life. No one in their sane mind having gone through what she went through over the last few years could sit across the table from me and talk in complete peace, with laser focus, unwavering courage, and the gentle smiling eyes of a farmer about their own mortality without the knowledge of an eternal Saviour and the faith in our Lord. That is what this is about. Marjorie was just one of the Lord’s vessels from which we could each drink. I am a better person for having spent time with her. I am thankful for her life and I cannot wait to see her again some day. Our dear Marjorie.

God’s Plan – A Tribute to Marjorie Leech (Peterson)

Somewhere around the world today there was another selfless soul born, of that I am pretty sure. And even with all the newborns today, there’ll never another Marjorie be.

I ended the phone call with …”my thoughts and prayers are with all of you.” As I promised I would, I dialed the number to my parents house and waited for Mom to answer. Usually, it’s been her making those dreaded calls to me, but tonight I had a message to pass on and an inkling that she already knew what I had just confirmed. She answered the phone and both of us seemed a bit scared to say the first words, knowing why each of us was on the line. I passed on the message I had promised to share and we talked about what we feared to be the case. Our dear, sweet Marjorie had passed, no more than an hour before.

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Hand Held

Honestly, I planned to be asleep by now. Before I went upstairs to turn in for the night, I looked back. I looked back on some poems I had written over the last year. These poems I’ve tried to neatly collect electronically within my blog. Some include pictures that I’ve tied to the words. Then I came across this one and everything stopped. The TV showing hockey highlights in the background seemed suddenly useless. The hour now equally unimportant. I love the picture. But perhaps, even as wordy as I can get, I might not ever find the room, the length, or even the words worthy of the flood of thought and memory that resonates within me when I see this picture. If ever there was a place in my heart that another ever held, my Aunt Janette still occupies a special space there. If you care to gain further understanding, look under the Tributes section of this blog and look for Aunt Janette. I’ll be here enjoying the memories associated with this picture for a while. Wishing again to be hand held.

In good hands

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You left your mark

Today’s your birthday but you’re not here
Thinking of you draws out lonely tears
 
You’ve been called home but we celebrate
No longer seen, but for the birth this date
 
What you did here matters more than now
Leaving your mark, teaching others how
 
The kid with the eyes that smiled always
Even when the toll’s taken in the last days
 
My heart sings in memory, our final embrace
Gently searching for the light in your face
 
Rest in peace my cousin as we carry on
One day ahead we shall all join together yon