Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Final Word

Monday was his funeral. That morning the wind sighed and the sky released icy tears. The sun did not show its face.

Flowers sent to the TH
in honour of George

The church groaned with the number of people who wanted to pay their last respects, groaned with grief at the loss of one of the town's authentically great men.

As Paul said in his eloquent eulogy for his father, "Dad was a true gentleman. A true gentle man."

Robert read Psalm 139:

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.
For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with Thee.
Surely Thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
For they speak against Thee wickedly, and Thine enemies take Thy name in vain.
Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee?
I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The music was exquisite: the hymns chosen included George's favourite - "How Great Thou Art" - and Diane's - "On Eagle's Wings". George's grandson Connor played one of his own compositions on the piano, a tribute to his Gramps.

But the most marvellous part of the service was when Paul and the Reverend Wendy Galloway talked about his father's last days in the hospital, his last words.

He had expressed these thoughts:

"God is looking after me."

"I'm 83 and I've had a good life."

When I heard those statements, I reflected that one of the things so endearing about George is that he never took anything for granted. He had been given much; but he had also experienced deep losses and sorrows, hardships and struggles. Each circumstance was accorded the weight and the thought, the action and the gratitude, that was due to it.

And finally,

"I am ready to meet God"

George was too weak to speak at the end, and so they gave him a tablet and a pen. This was the last thing he wrote before his hand could no longer muster the enormous effort required.

His last expressed word was God.

When it came to the waning moments of his life on earth, George was able to strip away all that was temporal and to focus on what was eternal.

His beloved Diane and his remaining children, Lewis, Tina, Robert and Paul, along with their families, had sustained him and comforted him and supported him up to this point. But they could go no further with him on this journey.

There was only One who could walk the final steps with him; and George turned to Him, confident that as He had promised George through his life on earth - "I will never leave you nor forsake you" - He would continue with him into, through and beyond the valley of the shadow of death.

We who remain will continue to sorrow, continue to remember, continue to profit from his example of kindness combined with resolution and his strength of character.

But we do not sorrow as those who have no hope.

For our dear George is free of pain, free of anxiety and troubles. He is with God. And as his beloved Di said, "At least he was spared prolonged suffering - we can be thankful for that."

As I came back to the TH and stood on the verandah looking out over the green space, thinking about the funeral, thinking about George, thinking about God's grace and comfort, the sun broke through the clouds, pale but golden, victorious, offering hope.

It had been there all along.


  1. I happen to think it's wonderful that the struggle, the loss, the comfort and the hope of this story can be felt because of your amazing gift of words. This was beautiful, Karyn.

  2. So sorry to hear about your friend passing away, but ever so thankful to know that He will be in Heaven. I grew up with a lot of that generation around me and loved to hear their stories of growing up. The only thing about it is that these days so many of them are passing away. So, we're thankful that they're in a better place and looking forward to seeing them again!

  3. "Even the night shall be light about me." (You never know what happens in the night!) "When I awake, I am still with You" - and so he is!
    I am so happy, even to tears, with the conclusion of the story of vigil and elegy to George, to know that he was ready to meet God. What a joyous meeting that must have been, after 83 years of journeying to get there! Blessings and Hallelujah! Love you, Karyn.

  4. Dearest K - i'm sorry that he's gone but i'm so glad that you had the chance to meet and become friends with someone that sounded wonderful.


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