Beautiful, Holy and Sorrowful

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I came to my parents’ house on Wednesday -that was the day my self imposed “quarantine” ended.  Daddy had been having one bad day after another, and I knew Mama was in need of support.  I just wanted to be as safe as I could, so I wanted to observe my self imposed quarantine, before going to my parents’ home.  I do not think I came a minute too soon. 

Daddy has mostly been in bed since I arrived.  To say he is doing poorly, is an understatement.  I am so thankful, he is peaceful and rarely shows any sign of distress.  When he does wake, we are with him.  we can hardly understand anything he says recently . . .but the first day, he told me a story.  It was new to me, but Mama confirmed it.

I was telling daddy about Tres, who we all think is so much like my dad-in looks and actions.  Of course, regular readers know, that I was bragging about how well Tres was doing in school, how impressed the professors were, how he was helping one of them, with the new remote process of classes-oh, I went on and on.  Daddy listened and then said “I was the smartest.”  I smiled and said “you are so smart, and always have been.”  He said again “I was the smartest.”  Mama chimed in and said “He was the “valedictorian”.  The story was that Daddy had been sent a letter declaring him this honor.  He remembered sitting at the kitchen table with Grandmama reading it-and how happy they both were.  When he walked in the school for graduation, and to receive his award, he was approached by- in his words – “a mean old lady that worked at the school”, who promptly informed him, he had missed too many days to be valedictorian, and it would go to another student.

Daddy said he had missed a good thirty days of school, because he had to help with farming.  Grandaddy was quite unreliable, while my own dad was growing up and so my Uncle Randy and my dad as young boys had to work tirelessly to “save that farm”.  The odds were stacked against daddy ever being a graduate, and especially a valedictorian.  I was proud and heartbroken all at once.  I was quite angry, too,  I still am.  In fact . . if I knew that “mean old ladys’ name, I would tell you and the rest of the world, too.  I am just that shallow, at times.

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Some of the days have been very quiet.  Neighbors and friends call, all offering to help in any way they can.  Folks have dropped off all sorts of foods, on the porch.  Only the immediate family comes in and even then, we take precautions.  When daddy awakens, we all take turns visiting with him.  I told someone this was  one beautiful, holy and sorrowful time.

 I have spent a good deal of time, quietly.  I relive my childhood memories, trying to tuck every detail of Daddy, deeply, in my heart. 

I look across the fields of winter wheat at the woods, where we gathered leaves for the annual leaf collection  projects at school.  I wondered  if children still do that. I look at the big sky . . .and remember those kites.  There is a curve, just before my parents’ home, and I could still  see him rounding that bend, coming home from work and  all of us running wildly to Mama,  proclaiming his arrival.  It was a wonderful time, in those days when ” a daddy came home.”  Groups of  playing children would  become smaller and smaller, as children ran home at the sight of their daddy coming home.  

We used to look at constellations and in those days, you could see the “Milky Way”  on clear nights. As a child I imagined running  across the sky on that starry path.  I never see the milky way over the rabbitpatch, without remembering Daddy calling us out to see that streak of silver across the night sky.

And then there are the birds .  . .Country children were well versed in bird and birdsong identification, when I was a child.  It was considered as essential to learn as your “ABC’s”.  The lessons were not formal and so we cheerfully learned the songs of  the woodland birds quite naturally . . .in the evenings, after supper.

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The days run on like a soft, melancholy tune.  Both of my sisters and a brother in law came and  so sometimes “there are shining moments”.  How much dimmer the days would be without them.

On Saturday, Brant and Tres came.  When they left, the house and yard were clean, and both of them got in a visit with their grand daddy. When they left, daddy fell in to a deep sleep . 

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That was the last day, that daddy tended to earthly business.  The next two days were long and grim.  We tucked “miniature prayer shawls” in his hands and waited . . .for God.  God was not in a hurry and so the somber hours dragged by.  

Easter day was mild and full of shine.  Daddy slept, while the dogwoods bloomed.  That is about all I have to say about Easter this year.

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On Easter Monday, we knew the time was almost nigh. I asked God to show daddy something so beautiful, that daddy would want to leave.  I told Daddy, that  he didn’t have a thing to worry about, for he had  given us all that we needed for our own journeys. I mentioned how grand it was to be left such an inheritance of things that “moth and rust will not corrupt”, as birds, and trees and stars do not fade with time, nor diminish in value but instead remain pure and easily passed on to my own children . . and all those children, yet to come. . . Still, daddy lingered.   The evening was a melancholy time.  I sat on the porch and remembered that Tres had been listening to  Daddys favorite music.  Jenny had asked earlier if Daddy had music as he slept.  I thought to go sing to daddy.  I went to his bedside, to find Delores sitting and singing so quietly to daddy.  I asked her to sing with me. Connie came in a few minutes later, and she joined us.  Mama came next.  None of us planned it, but somehow , we  all ended up gathering at his bedside, singing the old hymns. Within about twenty minutes, Daddy true, to his nature, left peacefully.   We sang him “all the way home”. It was beautiful, holy and sorrowful.

 

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59 thoughts on “Beautiful, Holy and Sorrowful

  1. Amidst all of the sorrow, how lucky you are to have helped your dad on his journey. I am so grateful for the time that I got to spend with both mom and dad and would not trade it for the world. My only regret is that dad was not able to die on his beloved farm. From experience I know that the good memories will outweigh the bad ones. Love to you and your family. Your story is always so beautifully written. I truly feel like I have lost a family member as your parents were always such an integral part of our lives.

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  2. Very sweet story! Praying you will find comfort in all those wonderful memories. I think there are lots of mean old ladies, but God has the last word & He knows our hearts. Bet your dad has a gem in his crown for helping on the farm. Love, hugs. Prayers for all of you.

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  3. My tears are flowing. My condolences to you and all your family. I’m saving this most beautiful writing. As I read it, it’s like being a part of your family ~as we share the same backgrounds, memories, and peace that only Jesus Christ can give us. And you sang him, along with he and your family, to his final home. I love you and your family. I’m praying and rejoicing the life he had and the memories and legacy he has left you and your family. This is beyond precious. 😭🙏🏻💚

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  4. Oh, my! How beautiful that you were able to gather around your father and sing as he lay dying. But so very, very sorry for your loss. When a parent dies, it’s as though a huge part of your life is sucked away. You have the memories and the love, but the missing and the mourning are terrible. You and your family are in my thoughts. Virtual hugs from Maine.

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  5. Beautifully told and my heart goes with you. It must have pained you as well but at least he´s at peace now. Condolences and prayer to you and your family. May you continue to look up into the skies and never give up finding the true stars that shine.Precious gift you have in writing so continue to do so… Love from Germany.-Justbluedutch

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  6. I’m not a crier, but tears were running down my cheeks while reading this beautiful post. I’m so glad you were able to spend time with your dad during his last days. Y’all eased his way to heaven with your singing. Amazingly beautiful!

    How I’d like to PINCH that mean old lady who denied your dad the award he earned with his grades! It was his, and now with your telling of his story, your readers can always remember that your dad was the valedictorian.

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    1. My dear “Sweet Anne”=your comment made me cry!! How wonderful it is to know folks like you-what a comfort to know others care-and I am STILL mad with “he mean old lady!” I must work on that. . .but not today. love love love Michele

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  7. Oh, Michele, how my heart aches for you! What a gift, for you and your father, that you were able to be together, gently, graciously, gracefully, serenely, for so many of his hours. May the blossoms and soft breezes of spring comfort and carry you and your family as you all go on this new journey.

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  8. Michele I feel your sorrow, but we know where your daddy is and that is what life on this earth is all about. A home in heaven where there will be no more tears. It takes a lot of time to lose the sorrow and let the memories sustain us until we meet again one day. Bless you and your family – I will be praying for you. I am so glad your father was surrounded by family and hearing old gospel songs sung by those who loved him so much. Love and hugs to you my friend.

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  9. Dear Michele, my heart goes out to you and your family.
    Your father was an impressive person. I have come to truly admire him, and that is based solely on a few third hand accounts. To have known him is a fine gift you will always treasure.
    I am with you in spirit.

    All my love,

    Scott

    p.s.: I suspect he’ll catch up to that mean lady shortly, and be vindicated. He was the smartest, and to have done so with so many absences makes it an even greater achievement. Alas, such earthly things will be meaningless to them both, by now, and they are more likely to welcome one another, and relive the old days together.

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  10. Oh, Michelle. My heart and love are with you, your precious mama and family at this time. You are all in my prayers. May the memories you have tucked in your heart comfort you as your father rests in the everlasting arms of God’s everlasting love. Peace be with you!

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  11. Michelle my heart is breaking for you and your family. I so remember the sadness of watching my father fade away before my eyes. Your words here are beautiful and honor your father in a way that we all witness with great admiration for you . I love you my sweet cousin and you all will be in my prayers and I know that God is with you now holding your right hand of righteousness Isaiah 41:10.🧡🧡

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  12. Michele…your words are not only beautiful, as they always are, but what a beautiful story told. As I know it is hard to give up a parent, your experience left me with a peacefulness deep within. What a blessing for. It just your dad, but for all you to sing him home, together. God gives us so wonderful blessings and all of you received a special blessing at that moment. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you and your family, and bring you comfort and peace at this time, and after. Much love to you.

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    1. thankk you so much Sandy-You are one of the ones that gave me the courage to write. I have never forgotten that. Now you lend me comfort and encouragement. Thank you so much-You are a beautiful servant to others-the most noble work. love Michele

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  13. Michele, my prayers are with you during this very hard time. I am so glad for your Daddy as he gets the amazing joy of spending his time with Jesus now….but my heart hurts for those of you left behind. I watched the slide show of your dad’s life that was posted in a link on your FB page. I had to smile at those photos of your dad as a young man.
    When I hear that your dad missed to many days of school so he could save the farm I am reminded of my dad. My grandpa passed away when my dad was 10. As the oldest son my dad missed so much high school that he did not graduate but only received a certificate of completion. But he did keep the farm going for my Grandma.
    We have the best dads Michele and I have a feeling that someday they will be buddies in heaven.
    Remember the wonderful memories made with your dad Michele and I will keep praying for you and yours.

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  14. I am so sorry for your loss! Even though he died peacefully, surrounded by family who loved him, it is still a huge loss to lose a father. I hope your memories are a comfort, as are the lessons that he taught you in his lifetime. I can’t think of a nice tribute to you father than that…… Praying for you all, Michele!

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  15. I’m praying for your comfort and that of your family. It’s hard to lose such a rock solid good human being. I hope all those beautiful memories are a healing balm to your souls. Thank you dear Michele for sharing your love and memories of your Daddy with us. I’m so glad you were able to be by his side, and with your Mother and your loved ones. God bless you in your sorrow with peace that passes understanding.

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  16. Your father sounded like a model father indeed, and what a blessing that when he left his precious family you were able to truthfully tell him “he didn’t have a thing to worry about, for he had given us all that we needed for our own journeys.” That alone is a life very well lived, and you were and are indeed highly blessed to have had him as your father. May we each leave such legacies to those we leave behind when we journey on to our heavenly home. My prayers are with you and yours dear Michelle, and I pray your precious memories and God’s peace sustain you during this time of sorrow.

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  17. Ma’am,
    I am sorry I did not know this until today- I have been so warped up in my own sorrows and tribulations that I have not read any posts lately.
    I was glad when reading this post that you all were with your dad during this time and sang him home over the hills and far away, where he waits for each of you with open hands to take you home.
    I now know what to do when I am put in such a situation- God always shows us what to do and it is perfect when it happens.
    How is your mum? Where was he buried?
    And the woman who was mean and who didn’t let him be a “valedectorian”- well, some people thrive on being mean and enjoy the sadness the meanness gives others- they are just made that way.
    I love you and will be praying for all of your family- thank you for teaching me how to enjoy the little things which are actually the great things in life.
    Susie

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    1. thank you dear Susie shy-I understand about being behind on reading-I did not think that I would ever catch up. The moments we were singing was unplanned and yet prefect. Daddy was buried just a few minutes from the house, in an old large cemetery. The funeral was very different due to the virus. Mama is doing though this has taken a toll. Thank you for your love and concern for all of us-and most especially the prayers… What a comfort! You take care and please know your kind words mean so much to me-love Michele

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  18. I’m with Anne Merhling… had to ‘blink hard’ a couple of times to move tears out of the way so I could keep reading. It’s funny, the little associations we make… Your daddy passed when the dogwood was blooming… my grandma passed when the apple blossoms were plentiful. You’ll no doubt appreciate dogwood blossoms in a whole new way from here on in (if that were possible… you have a keen appreciation for EVERY-thing it seems 🙂 ). re. pinching the mean old lady… sign me up. *wink* Bless you Michele!

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