Holy Ground

Last week was spent with family. My dad in law passed away and we spent an entire day waiting with Mom for Dad’s homegoing.

My sister texted me as we sat in that nursing home and told me that I was on “holy ground”. Indeed…..it was holy ground. That sacred space between this world and the next. Waiting for Dad to make his way into the arms of the waiting Father.

Last week was an honor and a privilege. It was a celebration and a heart ache. Those days, where time narrowed and focused on the life of one man….my dad in law. Time stood still….the world and it’s big issues were ignored and love and family time consumed us.

Memories were shared. Many heavy sighs were breathed. Tears and laughter mingled at the same time…. Hearts ached for those of us left behind and rejoiced for Dad who journeyed on ahead.

Memories of a man who loved to sing and play harmonica. Memories of a man who tilled the soil and milked cows…a man who was incredibly proud of his military service and a man who loved a good bag of jelly beans. We remembered a man who loved his wife and his family well.

Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for our family and for the life he lived. He left many memories for Mom, his children, grandchildren, family and friends and those memories will be passed along to his great grandchildren.

Looking back on that week brings the realization of what really is important. Living honestly, loving well, building relationships with family and friends and understanding that this life is not about us.

We stood in that cemetery on a beautiful morning. We listened to the pastor remind us that our hope is not in this temporary dwelling place…we saw my mom in law receive the American flag ….we heard the shots echo and the lonely sound of taps played in the distance.

We did not say good-bye as we stood on holy ground. We knew this was instead “till we meet again”. We got to see what a legacy really looks like ….faith….family….and how your life is lived in the time you are given.

Thank you Dad for the lessons you taught…not only in how to live life but how to leave this life for the next. You will be missed…till we meet again.

“You live to die….
you die to live.”
Ruth Fondse

Cousins

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My husband and I were commenting the other day and wondering why it seems to take a funeral; to get together with cousins that you have not seen in a long time. Another observation we made was how much laughter there could be at funerals.

It doesn’t seem like laughter and funerals go together but I must confess, around here they do seem to end up that way. This past week an aunt on my mom’s side passed away. She “went home” on Christmas day and her family knew she had the best Christmas ever.

We will be gathering to lay her to rest….and we will be gathering to remember the life she lived. I have a feeling there will be a lot of reminiscing with all the cousins that will be there. I also have a feeling that there will be lots of grins and laughter.

I think that at some points it will resemble a celebration of sorts. A celebration of life lived, a celebration of family gathering, a celebration of what makes family…family.

We will realize that family isn’t perfect and that is okay. We will remember the childhood nights spent at cousins’ homes and games played in those home. For those of us who grew up in our small town….we loved to go to the farm homes of our cousins.

There was always something exciting to do there. You could ride the pigs (when your uncles were not looking), you could stand on top of the cab of an old pickup in the grove and launch yourself onto a gunny sack swing and soar high into the air. There were board games to be played, games of Kick The Can and Moonlight Starlight Hope To See The Ghost Tonight.

You just knew it was a successful time when you went home in the back seat of your parents’ car feeling tired, having a cut on your shin from running into the cistern in the dark and feeling slightly sick from to much running in the heat and too much really sweet Kool-aid.

It was a carefree time to be a kid. There didn’t seem to be any big worries that we had. Some of our biggest concerns were, if we would be able to talk our folks into letting us stay overnight so we could have more time together. We also did our best to talk our folks into letting us each take a chicken home. (Even then I wanted chickens! …. and yes…we were successful on that one.)

There are so many wonderful memories of times spent with cousins on both sides of the family. I was fortunate to have a girl cousin my age on both sides. I went to school with them and spent my childhood years surrounded by cousins of all ages.

I can only hope that in the future my grandchildren will have those same close ties and connections with their cousins. I know they will be miles apart, instead of town blocks apart, but my prayer is that family ties stretch across those many miles.

I hope that someday when those future cousins meet to celebrate my “home-going” there is lots of laughter, lots of love and so many good stories to be told of time spent together at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Time where they played games, got into a little (only a little) mischief, and made memories that will bond them together for a lifetime.

 

 

A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.
Marion C. Garretty

Cousins are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.
Ed Cunningham