It was unexpected, his final departure.
When he finally was granted his rest.
You see, he was the best.
The best at rides on his mower,
The best tomato grower,
The best at cast iron corn bread,
Kisses on heads,
And (most-of-the-time) at cards.
He was the best at Christmas.
The decorations were extravagant
Yet classy. A nativity was tucked away
Next to brassy candlesticks on his desk.
Mantle decked and carols sang,
His voice always rang out clear…
Until the quiver came.
Always when he prayed to tell Jesus thank you.
“Thank You for coming.
Thank You for dying
Thank You for giving me another year.”
This former army man didn’t shy away
From tears of gratitude.
At the end of the evening, we would never leave
Without a brown bag filled with fruit and nuts
(And some chocolate, too.)
Always with a reminder that these few things
Were all his family used to get.
“But they were happy,” he’d say.
I didn’t realize that was his way of telling us
Stuff is just stuff.
That Jesus and family…
That was enough.
Jesus and family, in the end, was enough
For this dear sweet man
With a weathered tan and deep wrinkles.
His family sang him through his final sleep,
With hopes that Jordan wouldn’t be so deep
As he crossed it to his Jesus.
My papa, we cried for you.
We watched a flag be folded for you,
And watched our mema cry and receive it.
We listened as guns saluted all the time,
All the ways, you served our country,
But you see, there aren’t enough rounds
In the whole entire world
That could properly salute how you served us.
How you served King Jesus.
We all know that you wouldn’t want us to be sad.
You, who delighted so much
To touch us with moments of happiness.
But you see, Papa, we listened and learned.
We embrace the tears and the trace they leave
Across our faces.
Across our hearts.
For it was you who, over and over again,
Taught us not to shy away from tears of gratitude.
We are so very thankful you loved us.
It is our gratitude for you that makes our grief
So, so great.
We love you, papa.
We miss you.
We will see you, by and by.