"Awww. today is the date of Daddy's death. August 8th - and also he died on a Sunday". We thought about that and did the math - 17 years.
Then I chuckled and said it was also the date our cat Muffin died. Because as we were leaving for Evergreen, having packed after Mother's phone call - which came very early that morning - our neighbors called to say they had found our cat in the road. Sad. We had to tell the girls about that. Laura Beth was 11 and responded with some drama. I don't remember it, but she has laughed and told me she said, through tears, "Why is God doing this to me??!!" You know, Granddaddy and Muffin dying on the same day. Well, we took it all in stride and drove to Evergreen - Mother and Mary Ann were traveling from Montgomery to Evergreen and we would stay with our different family members in Evergreen.
It's been 17 years and I don't take lightly the passing away of Daddy, nor of anyone else - especially those I love with that familial love. But it's been 17 years and I don't do grieving in a demonstrative way - not usually - except when it overtakes me in certain situations.
But still, I've been thinking about Daddy. Of course I'll always miss him until I see him again in heaven. I'm so glad I know that he's there. And Mother.
anyway - I want to share these pictures which I've considered before. Perhaps it's inappropriate on this blogpost - but I took these pictures of Daddy when he was in the nursing home - it was right before he became so dehydrated and had to be hospitalized. Perhaps it's morbid. I wondered that at the time - but I didn't want to forget how it was just because I wanted to respect what had happened. Time goes by and I remember things but wonder if I remember correctly. Am I exaggerating, have I distorted the image? So, with these pictures, which I don't look at very often - they're tucked away in a book way out of sight and out of daily reach - but I pulled them out.
Careful - not pleasant to look at - at least not to me.
It was during these days I asked God, "What's the point? Why not let him be in heaven with You."
It was when Daddy was in this position that I'd sit on the floor under him, looking up at him, and sing hymns to him - to feed his soul what he knew and I wondered if he was troubled by my being "off key" or "flat". I couldn't help it, I sang anyway.
Mother insisted that he stay this well dressed, with cap on - she wanted him "looking his best" as long as he could. "Looking 'dapper' ", I guess is the word.
I found this poem back then when he was so ravaged:
If I might only love my God and die!
But now He bids me love Him and live on,
Now when the bloom of all my life is gone,
The pleasant half of life has quite gone by.
My tree of hope is lopped that spread so high;
and I forget how summer glowed and shone,
While autumn grips me with its fingers wan,
and frets me with its fitful windy sigh.
When autumn passes then must winter numb,
And winter may not pass a weary while,
But when it passes spring shall flower again:
And in that spring who weepeth now shall smile,
Yea, they shall wax who now are on the wane,
Yea, they shall sing for love when Christ shall come.
I learned at the time, that death is certainly God's business and He has His appointed time for everyone. Daddy's would not be hurried or rushed and it felt as if it was Daddy's last surrender of himself, to live like that so that Mother, Mary Ann, and I could be even more shaped on the potter's wheel.
But when we had his memorial service and burial we sang all the verses of
Crown Him with Many Crowns, the Lamb Upon His Throne...
I imagined that Daddy was laying his crown at the feet of Jesus and falling prostrate before the sight of his Savior and at least we, still on earth, could sing the hymn with him - partake in that chorus of praise which goes on in heaven.
After the funeral, after everything, we gathered at my aunt, Mary's, house for lunch and fellowship.
This is what we used to do at a family gathering - but there are so few left to do it anymore -
Here we all are on that day -
Mary is playing the piano and various cousins are singing what Daddy taught them all to sing -
It's that benediction - "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" -
The man cupping his hands over his ears, that's my cousin, John Wilkerson - Daddy's nephew -
We were all rather amazed - he looked so much like Daddy and his singing voice was just like Daddy's -
Here he is talking with my cousin, Scott - my mother's sister's son.
Mother, my cousin, Tommy Wilkerson, John W's brother, and Florence, mother's sister.
and below, still singing
and everyone listening and amazed at the sound of the voices,
especially John's who sounded so much like Daddy.
That was in 1993, and now Mother, Lucille (next to mother)
and Waynard, on the couch next to the lamp, are all in heaven also.
That's Kate in the bottom right corner peeking around at the camera.
She was 5.
Charlie on the right talking with my cousins, Scott and John W.
and below my uncle, John Law, laughing with my cousin, Rusty in the tie.
They're looking at someone, it could be any one of the family members who have just said something to get everyone tickled. Those were our family gatherings - so much fun.
I remember that day - it was just the kind of day Daddy would have enjoyed -
but heck, he was in HEAVEN! That's the best.
Another family gathering - same mix of folks - in 1950 or so.
and Daddy at his best
Actually, this, below, is probably Daddy at his best, but I didn't know him in this picture, and neither did Mother - so certainly not Mary Ann - this was during the Air Force time and after whatever basic training he'd been thru. My vote for best is his prime as Daddy - the essence of his being my Dad.