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Monday, August 23, 2010

Farewell Good and Faithful Servant

Easter 2008, Pappaw, Chad, and Tucker

His name is Charlie.  He's my Pappaw.  He's dying of cancer, it has spread to the bone and has now left him in a morphine-induced state of life.  Hospice is 'on-call' and we are ready.  A veteran of the Pacific theatre of World War II, he fibbed about his age in order to join the war effort--he was a Naval bomber pilot.  He never speaks much about his military service, in fact if it weren't for the poorly inscribed anchor tattoos on his forearms, you would never know about it.

Charlie is an extraordinary gift to the world, a child of God whose faith in people and in Our Lord was unswerving.  His wife Nancy, married for 51 years, was the love of his life.  He had everything and worked to build it with honest, hard work.  Steel Products, a small custom steel fabrication company, was the fruit of that labor.  Following the war, he did not accept the government's handout with the G.I. Bill.  He did not want any payment for his service in the Navy.  He claimed that he knew others that needed the money more than he did (which was also a fib).

So he saved and built his own first house along with a family in Huntington, West Virginia.  He saved some more and eventually bought his ownership in the steel business.  He saved even more and expanded the business while growing a reputation for quality service 'after the sale.'  A devout Episcopalian, he spent the better part of his entire life in faithful service to St. Peter's Episcopal Church in the west end of Huntington--giving money, time, and dedication to seeing the mission of Christ happen in an otherwise impoverished part of town.  Charlie was the sort who preferred to stay behind the scenes, he didn't care much for lavish attention or even who got credit for anything.  He just liked to do it.  And he did an awful lot of doing.

I cannot recall a single momentous occasion in my own life where he was not present.  Pappaw was seemingly always there.  Family was a top priority for Charlie.  Another priority was Marshall University athletics, football in particular.  He was quick with a joke to lighten the mood and was ready to lend his listening ears too.  He simply loved people and he loved to learn.  Everyday presented Charlie with something new, something to learn, and something to praise God for His handiwork in everything.

His life leaves me gasping.  Is he a modern-day prophet, the quiet example-setting sort?  How could such an ordinary person have such a profound, extraordinary impact on so many lives?  I don't know the answer just yet.

Each day he dies a little more.  My prayer for Pappaw is for a holy death.  He said to me back in June that he was ready to die--he recalled his full life of blessings and with few (if any really) regrets.  I cherish that month spent at home near him.  He knows my love for him, my admiration for who he is and who he came to be.  It makes saying good-bye seem irrelevant, at least to me.  I carry him with me everywhere, everyday.

Farewell, good and faithful servant.  Truly, he was apart of the 'Greatest Generation.'

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dew Dreams

'tis the soul's August,
whose roots are tightly compact'd--
water stagnates and rots the soil.
Nothing seems to pass through it.

In dreamy night air does
it imagine,
a haze of soft rain,
to refresh the hell
of the hot day.

Autumnal glimpses
are found deep within,
deadening the murmuring

And nothing sticks to it,
vanishing up like
morning dew.