They Live On

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Paul and Ringo are knights now, honored for their contribution to music.

John was shot and killed a long time ago.

George died of lung cancer, possibly exacerbated by a stab wound inflicted by a thief.

Their music lives, though, and much has become classic in the genre.  But their guitars will never sound quite as sweet. Their synthesizers are stilled. The sound systems they used are obsolete.

Yet, the music lives on. The fun music, the obscure, the love songs and the laments all live on.

Forewarned

Premonition

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John had been sick for several years. His heart first, then a series of small strokes.  Several surgeries had weakened his body, and his last stroke made it impossible for him to live at home.  His worst nightmare was coming true.  He was being transferred directly from the hospital to its connected nursing home.

His mind wavered between reality and the land of dreams and memories, but he never lost sight of the God he had loved and served for so many years.  He knew heaven was his next and final stop, and he looked forward to it.

Except he didn’t want to leave his wife of over 51 years.  When you’re married that long, you ought to leave together.  She was so faithful, coming every day to spend hours with him, talking, holding hands, sharing a kiss now and then.  When he fell into his afternoon sleep, she would leave to tend to other chores, but she would be back to share his evening meal and stay until he slept for the night.

dadsmiling

John’s premonition that death was near grew stronger each passing day.  He dreamed of seeing his father standing  strong and well, smiling and waiting for him.  He had other dreams, not always so pleasant, of life experiences he rarely talked about–the war years, in a submarine, as a torpedo man were especially troubling.

Sometimes he made no sense, saying things he would never have said if his mind had been normal.  Once, when his younger daughter came to visit, he thought she was his wife.  It took a little persuading to convince him she wasn’t.

One morning, as his nurse finished helping him shave and bathe, he looked right into her eyes and said, “You won’t have to do this for me again. I’m going home today.”

The nurse smiled, tucked him in for his nap, and quietly left the room.

He fell asleep, and woke up in heaven.

Premonitions are usually considered a negative thing.  This one wasn’t, though. John was ready, looking forward to seeing the Lord, knowing his life was truly just beginning.

Legacy

Legacy

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John was not a perfect man.  No one knew that any better than he did himself.

He’d come up hardscrabble. At the time, he really hadn’t thought much about how poor his family was.  He lived in a dugout in the desert, and had the freedom to roam, hunt, just be. So the poverty generated by the Crash of 1929  wasn’t much of a hardship for him.

Later, he would tell his own children stories of how he grew up.  He talked about the sandwiches he took to school:  Homemade bread spread with bacon drippings.

Ugh. Not the bread.  We still prefer homemade bread.  But bacon drippings?

He talked about his dog, and he talked about the move, later on, to Colorado where he met the girl he would marry.  He talked very little about the war years, his time on a submarine and the wonderful day when his boat was in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the peace treaty with Japan.  He couldn’t see a thing, but he was there.

School had been something John had to do in order to play basketball.  Flat-footed, he’d had to tape his feet so that he couldn’t put them down flat on the floor. He thought it gave him more speed. He suffered for it later, but those basketball games were wonderful memories for him.

Home from the war, John wasn’t sure of his direction.  He’d become angry at God during the war years,  but God had a purpose for John and He never let go of that.  In time, John submitted to the hand of God on his life and  went to Bible college. He had to study Greek and Hebrew, and his daughters remember him pacing ’round and ’round the dining room table as he memorized verb conjugations and vocabulary that made very little sense to him at the time. They knew to stay out of his way.

John had a temper.  His own father had been a stern disciplinarian with his two older sons, and John carried the anger from what we’d probably call abuse today.  John expected to never be questioned, never be disobeyed.  When those expectations weren’t met, he could be pretty scary. He was never abusive, especially by the standards of the ’50’s and ’60’s, but he didn’t hesitate to deal with any situation however he felt he needed to.

As he aged, and his family grew up, moved out, married, had children of their own, John developed heart disease. His love of all cholesterol-raising foods and his lack of exercise in his later years made him a pretty sick man.  In his illness, though, he changed from the hard-driving, stern taskmaster he’d been for so many years.  His more melancholy side began to show, and he mellowed.  He was especially tender toward his son’s two children, who lived close by.

The legacy he left  was sometimes paradoxical, but never boring.  He was an  old-fashioned fire and brimstone preacher at times.  His true strength was his ability to teach the hard things of God’s Word to make them simple.  His legacy included an abiding love for his high school sweetheart, and a love of God and God’s Word. He is not remembered for his humor, but for his enjoyment of other people’s humor. And, as he aged,  he learned to laugh at himself.  It was a good thing, because he was often the creator of a belly laugh for others without ever meaning to be.

Where he loved, he loved deeply.  He wasn’t very good at speaking love, except to his wife.  He was, instead, a typical man of his era who lived out his love in provision for his family and his dedication to the people he pastored.

His legacy would be seen differently by each of his three children.  No  child in a multiple-child family is ever reared by the exact same set of parents, so each child’s perspective is different from the other.  When his children said their final goodbyes to him, they all knew one thing for sure:  There would never be anyone else like him. Right or wrong, he was unique

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