Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Simple Life

Many of you who read this blog from time to time will relate to this post because you have experienced first-hand what I experienced today.

While my Mom was at doctor's appointment 30 miles away, I (along with the trusty help from my aunt) cleaned out my Dad's closet. (My mom really didn't want to be here for that - totally understandable)

I knew today was "my day to step up." My sister has "walked through fire" these past several days - not to mention weeks, months, and years simply by "being here" (she lives 30 minutes away) whenever my Mom and Dad needed her. As a retired school teacher, she recently took an extended "sub" job at a school - today, she had to go back to work.

So, in no way attempting to measure up to or come anywhere near what she has done for this family in so many different ways, I knew that at least to some extent, this was "my job" to do what needed to be done - I had to be the "closet-cleaner"!

What I discovered in this process was yet another tribute to the class and character of my Dad.....

1. Put others first
2. Don't make a big deal about the clothes you wear -
choose function over style
3. Stay organized
4. Live simply

Here is a photo of every single piece of clothing my father owned - (yes, a few things had already been claimed, but this was the bulk of it) - all fitting in one small suitcase and on several hangers! He lived 86 years for crying out loud, and the sum total of his clothing fit on the corner of his bed! (He did have some kind of thing for suspenders - notice the basketful!)

I then had to photograph this bag and this cap. I gave this bag to my Dad many years ago at Christmas - it is still in mint condition. I think this cap was his favorite. I really hope my mom will hang it in the closet as a reminder of the wonderful man he was.

I miss him today.....and now I need to go home and throw everything I have away - (or at least make sure that ALL my clothes fit on the corner of my bed!) - it really doesn't matter anyway does it? I certainly can't take it with me, so I can only hope and pray that whatever it is I leave behind will be of value to my kids or grand kids.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Easter To Remember

This Easter Sunday would have been my 17th consecutive Easter Sunday to have the privilege of standing before the congregation of my church and lead them in worship on the most glorious of Sundays! As important as that is to me (and believe me - it is REALLY important to me!), I will instead be sitting with my Mom and sister (celebrating all that Easter is to a Christ-follower) at the First Baptist Church of San Marcos, Texas.

I truly can't wait! What an honor to culminate a most amazing (and yes, extremely difficult) week of my life.

This past Tuesday morning (April 7) around 2:15am, my Dad left this earth, and joined the countless number of saints in heaven in the very presence of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

On Good Friday, we joined together as a family to honor his life sitting out under the partly-cloudy skies in the middle of "no-where" Central Texas (Uhland, Texas to be exact) at the Live Oak Cemetery.

The five grandsons and two great-grandsons lifted his flag-draped casket from the hearse, walked it to the designated spot, and then the brief, buy very meaningful grave-side service began.

Two military men took the flag from my Dad's casket, carefully held it over the casket as "Taps" was played, then they took what seemed like forever to meticulously fold it - it was powerful to watch them do this. One of the men then held it for "inspection" to the other. The other then took it, marched ever so slowly to stand directly in front of my mom, knelt on one knee and presented the flag to her. His words were unforgettable - "on behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, I present this flag to you in honor and appreciation of your husband's service to our country." I was stunned - I had seen this in movies and on TV, but never right in front of me, and certainly not with someone saying that in reference to my Dad....

My mom and dad's pastor read scripture, prayed, then opened it up for anyone to say something who wanted to. My nephew - the oldest grandson spoke - and boy did he speak powerfully about my Dad. He then challenged all the grandsons and great-grandsons to continue this man's legacy in how they live their lives. WOW! I was blown away. Then Ben (my youngest) told a funny story of how he must have received his grandaddy's "gene" for patience in repairing things and re-assembling things! It was perfect!

Where would we be without faith and family in times like these?

We then got in our cars and journeyed 5 minutes away to the little county church where my mom grew up, and where (63) years ago, my mom and dad were married. Now on this Good Friday, she celebrated his life.

I can't begin to imagine all that was going through her mind and heart as she sat through a beautiful service of remembrance in front of a packed house of maybe 175 people. (Here's a photo of the front of the sanctuary and all the beautiful flowers)

After the service, everyone gathered in the fellowship hall to re-connect, express their love to each of us, and simply enjoy the company of one another.

This final photo just astounds me for its beauty. Besides Seth's capturing of the moment in such a powerful way, Ben is wearing one of my dad's hats that his grandmother gave him the day before the service........

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I have many, many friends whose Dad no longer lives here on earth. Regardless of how they died - expected or unexpected - regardless of their age (after all - at what age determines whether a person lived a long and fruitful life anyway?) - the loss is real, and it hurts because they simply are no longer around.

My Dad is gone, and I will not see him again until I get to heaven, but his mind is now clear, his body is now healed, and he is now in the presence of God Almighty! Wow!

On September 12 of last year, he turned 86. I posted the following words and photos about him. They have never been more real to me than now. Here is what I said then, and here is what I say now - this time on his first birthday in heaven!
(do they even keep track of those kinds of things there?)
Today is my father's 86th birthday!

For all these years W.J has lived and contributed to so many people's lives in a variety of ways. He has done so in what many would call "the old fashion way" - hard work, determination, and caring for others.

His dry sense of humor, his quiet spirit, and his work ethic have always impressed me, and anyone who knows him.

As a child, I remember him working 12 hours @ day - 7 days a week at the Gulf Service Station. I don't know how he did it.

Together we have built many things in and around our home. They are constant reminders of his ability to use his hands to create something of value. I love "constructing things with wood", and that love comes directly from him.

My favorite of all time is this deck that we built 20 years ago (in the summer of 1988). The people who now live in this house probably don't realize how special that "work of art" is to my family, but I will always remember that experience!

(Good grief, I hope I can build something like this when I am 66 years old!!)

So, thanks Mr. Worley for being around for 86 years. You really WERE a good man, friend, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

(The photo at the top is my Dad with my sister's grandson. I love the expressions on their faces!)