Friday, December 18, 2009

Shirley A. Kuhn - Mar 6, 1936 to Dec 13, 2009

It has been many years since I lost a family member to death but I'm still not any more ready for this current death than I was then. My last loss was my Dad. In 1995, after a lifetime of poor health, my father passed peacefully. Now, fourteen years later, I still miss him and catch myself wishing we could sit together and that I could get his advice on things.
Today, as I feel the fresh loss of Diana's mother carve out another hollow place in my heart, I am filled with more feelings than I am able to process at any one moment in time. For several hours this afternoon, I will witness a multitude of friends and extended family pause in their busy lives to bid a farewell to a great lady and to offer kind condolences to us.
Tomorrow morning is Mom's funeral, when we will formally celebrate the life of a woman who spent her life in service to others and who has done much to overcome her own personal weaknesses. Mom was human, but in spite of her mortal frailties, she managed to leave a noble legacy for us to consider and hopefully to follow. For myself, I will always remember a woman who knew her mind and who wasn't afraid to encourage me to be a better man. Mom was loved by many, and I feel particular appreciation for her positive influence on my dear wife and children. Mom fiercely loved her family. Her influence will be greatly missed.
And so today, I have something to say to Shirley A. Kuhn: "Thanks Mom, for being a great mother-in-law to me, a wonderful mother to my wife, a memorable grandmother to my children & grandchildren, a loving wife to Dad and a faithful friend to all. I miss you. We miss you. Your example will help me to go forward with a renewed determination to live up to the truths and values I know. Thank you for all you have given me."
(Mom's obituary can be read at the funeral home's website. Just use Dec 13, 2009 to reference.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Sober Time In Life

My Friends,

As 2009 draws to a close, I am poignantly reminded of the fragility of my mortal existence. Way back in 2005, my wife's mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and told that she probably had less than 18 months to live. In 2005 and since, our family prayed lots for Mom and the Lord saw fit to prolong her life. Now, Diana’s mother’s life is drawing to a close. As I sit with Mom, listening to each ragged breath, and wondering which one will be her last, I am lead to believe that family is so much more important that things. I feel somewhat compelled to believe that the goodness in Mom’s life has power over the bands of death and that her goodness will influence us long after she is gone. I am reminded that not everything I once thought was important really is.

At our home, which is 1600 miles away, our Christmas presents sit alone, awaiting our return. Several weeks ago, I lovingly placed tenderly wrapped presents in the growing pile, anticipating the joy I might see in the eyes of each recipient on Christmas morning. Today, however, those far away presents seem lifeless and meaningless when compared to the fragile life of my mother-in-law as she hangs on to the precious gift of life that I too share in. Someone has sat with Mom nearly every moment of every day in the past few weeks and since I arrived here in Indiana on December 4th, I have taken my turn to watch over her. The last few nights, as I sat into the wee hours of the morning and read to her, held her hand, administered her medications, thought about her life or moved her into a more comfortable position, I have been amazed at the depth of my feelings. Mom has been a wonderful mother-in-law as well as a good friend. Along with her sweet husband, who has been an angel of mercy to her for many years, they raised an amazing daughter who I have been privileged to be married to for over 27 years. I feel honoured to be able to offer a small amount of service in partial payment for the debt I feel. I feel honoured to know such a noble woman.

In 2005, shortly after Mom was diagnosed with cancer, I felt moved to write a poem in her honour. For those of you who have read my blog for a long time, you may recall that I promised to share that poem. Today, I feel that the time has come. I hope you both enjoy and benefit from the words I penned – words that I feel came from a source larger than my own mind and heart.

When Death Comes

When threat of death our loved ones get,
Their hearts can scarcely brave the threat,
It seems so soon, it seems so near,
For death is something we all fear.

No fresh escape, the new day brings.
I wish my soul could find some wings,
To take me up and way beyond,
The pain of day and night so long.

And when its time for me to go,
I know ‘tis sad to leave below,
My loved ones left to fare alone,
My friends who’ll look and find me gone.

I’m heaven bound, at least I hope,
Because for me a plan was wrote.
A price was paid, His blood was spilt,
So I could find escape from guilt.

A life again, he promised me.
A life with joy and not so tough.
And so let’s see how I will do,
When my turn comes to conquer through…

The bounds of earth and sky to see,
If I have live so worthily.
Am I at peace or just not here?
Are loved ones left to cringe in fear?

Do I await the gates above?
Is Jesus Christ the one I love?
My path is sure. All men must tread,
But life’s not just ‘bout being dead.

Just time away, and time for thought,
It’s nice, but lots of pain is brought.
My loved ones pray, faith on their lips,
As life from me so slowly slips.

I hope to meet again someday.
I hope to love again and play,
As once I did before hard times,
And hug and kiss and give my charms.

But for today, the time is gone.
For choosing either right or wrong.
My loved ones watch, but cannot go
To Heaven’s gate or down below.

Then wisdom speaks and makes me glad,
That life brought both, some good and bad,
To help me grow and have a choice,
And work to speak with Heaven’s voice.

And so with heart all strained and sad
I grin and say that life is glad.
For up and down our lives may be,
But that is just the entry fee…

I have to pay if I’m to hope,
That I can rest in Jesus cloak.
So upward look, to days ahead,
When none of us will need a bed.

For gone will be the pains of earth,
And glad I’ll be that I had birth.
Sweet crowns of light are in my reach,
Our Lord and God on earth did teach.

And faith and hope and charity,
Will be my song and be my gleam.
For I will win the fight of life,
And reach for things beyond this strife.

My loved ones left for just a while,
As I go on to join the choir,
Of angels fair, all dressed in white,
And robed in glory, love and light.

Soon you will come and join our throng.
Soon ‘twill be time to come back home,
To God who gave you life and love.
Soon ‘twill be time to sing above.

But till that day go forth with faith,
And keep sweet smiles upon your face.
For you are who I leave behind,
To take my work in heart and mind.

And leave a legacy for me,
That death and pain will never grey.
Remember I will wait for you,
So make me proud and Jesus too.

Go right to work and train that voice.
Learn Heaven’s words; It’s still your choice.
For you have time, to choose the right,
And walk in truth and love and light.

And when your time arrives to go,
Be glad that you have lived below.
But ‘till that day please take some time,
To train your voice with pleasing rhyme…

So you can come and sing with me,
And blend refrains in harmony.
I wait for you my dear loved one,
Please join me when your work is done.

By Davis L. Bigelow
Copyrite 2005