The activities of the day are done. The sun sets in the west, casting its influence on the clouds which remain, separated though they are by intermittent patches of blue sky. We began our morning by meeting at Willamette National Cemetary in Portland, Oregon. We watched them lower the casket into the grave. We watched and considered a life well-lived.
Then we made our way west into Lafayette, wrestling with two full hours of traffic delays due to road construction in the busy metropolitan area. My twelve year old niece, Jessica, rode along with me. It was a beautiful time of getting to know her, learning more about her interests and encouraging her. We learned that we share a love for writing. She also is writing a fantasy novel, having completed one chapter already. I look forward to reading it soon.
We arrived barely in time for the service to begin. Dad received a military honors tribute from an Army Honor Guard. Two soldiers in full regalia performed the honor, one playing taps, the other saluting Dad’s photo. Then they both unfolded the flag of the USA in their impressive display of disciplined choreography, and refolded it again. The second soldier looked down at the flag, in a sharp salute. The first soldier then turned to Mom and gave the flag to her. He whispered to her, “On behalf of the United States of America and the President of the United States of America, we thank you for your husband’s service to our country.” Then he saluted her. It was an emotional, powerful moment.
The pastor led us in prayer and then opened with one of Dad’s favorite hymns, “Because He Lives.” He shared Dad’s favorite Bible verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but shall have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
The pastor then read several brief letters written by members of the family, including a letter and two poems written by me and letters written by some of the grandchildren. Then the floor was opened for people to share their thoughts. Both my brothers and my Mom shared heartfelt thoughts. Others who knew Dad also shared, including Dad’s former supervisor in the Newberg Police and a man who was a truck driver who had been deeply impacted by Dad and Mom just in the last few months.
My niece Jessica sang a lovely rendition of “I Can Only Imagine.” We watched a powerpoint photo presentation with a wide array of family photos, some of which I had never seen. The pastor then led us in singing “Because He Lives,” another of my Dad’s favorite hymns.
Afterward, we shared a family meal along with those who attended the celebration, courtesy of the church. We then made our way to our separate homes.
So the day is done. The nightfall whispers on the breeze. A new day prepares to dawn. There is much that the family must now work through as we prepare for the days to come. I appreciate all who have expressed their sympathies and kept us in prayer. Soon I will be back to writing about children’s ministry. I thank you for giving me latitude to process my thoughts in this way. It allows me to say what I need to say, and to do so in a way that I can remember it in the years ahead. So thank you. And goodnight.