In the aftermath of my father's death I am tender toward the presence of God. I am not disappointed that He gathered Dad unto Himself. It was time, and the hasty progress of the impact of the brain tumour saved Jack Blair the struggle and humiliation of lingering in a less than characteristic state.
In a late-hour conversation with my daughter and Mother it was suggested to him "that he was doing a good job". Dad turned to Lauren and looked her straight in the eye and said, "Yes, and I must keep on doing a good job." He repeated it. What did he mean? I must bravely meet the pain? I must accept the environment of this palliative care ward? I must die well? Something in the whole exchange made my daughter conclude that he meant the latter.
Decades ago he had watched his ailing grandmother Watson, bed-ridden, still trying to watch her beloved Detroit Tigers baseball team on television and saying, "I am ready for the Good Lord to take me." I don't know how much Gospel truth she had shared with Dad in former days, but her confidence in the benevolence of her "Good Lord" stayed with Jack throughout life.
At the funeral when "Amazing Grace' was played on the pipes, as my Father had suggested, I knew that he had appropriated the messages of holy fear and holy release. Henceforth delighting in a place of glorious adventure, free from sighing, sickness and death. How could I selfishly want him back?
But the weeping comes, and it comes often when not expected. In this weeping I share something with my Mom and with my brother Scott which cannot be matched by the condolences of others of lesser acquaintance. It is a loving service and fellowship we render for each other. It goes on in the midst of funeral business, homestead sale business, rest home relocation business and day-to-day business. It is a process of adjustment, humbling and maturing.
I tell people about my Dad's final days, the comforting funeral, the puzzlement, weeping and intense physical fatigue which I feel. In this I share in what they have already undergone, or will someday soon face.
I am reminded again of Jesus standing at the edge of Lazarus' tomb with devastated sisters Martha and Mary. Jesus wept. The entourage of mourners wept. Man had done this to himself through the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19). Community was lessened by the loss of yet another good man.
But at that graveside stood resurrection power incarnate (John 11: 23-25) and miraculously, in time, fellowship would be restored. Thanks be to God.
A friend has warned me not to repress the grieving. It is an unprecedented experience of faith, emotion and mortality. It must be allowed to do its work for me, the Blair family and others.
Note: This reflection was written before sun-up. After dawn I delighted at the prospect of a June morning - sunny, somewhat cool. The kind of morning that had welcomed my Dad to a moist tee-off from the first hole at Sunningdale, or welcomed him to a northern boat-dock with baits and angler's aspirations. June. His favourite month. The month of his birth, of his death. Thinking this way, I chuckled to myself, the sound of my own voice resembling Dad's. Remembered? Oh yes.