I remember so well cradling my step-niece’s little newborn head on the afternoon of July 8th, 1990. As I smiled at Rachel’s tiny little face I was struck by how I was holding a new life in my hand, when only a few miles away, another life was leaving this earth. We had just left my mother’s hospice bed side. We knew that her time with us would be short now, the death-rattle in her chest nearly broke me apart to hear it. Her short battle with breast cancer was coming to an end.
We took my Dad to Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria and we quietly ate fish and chips for lunch. Dad even smiled as a seagull stole one of his french fries from his hand. I hadn’t seen him smile in days. Dad had been Mom’s primary care-giver for two difficult years as she fought with cancer. He was exhausted, but refused to give up hope that Mom would “bounce back”. Today, after seeing her, he knew that was not going to happen. He said “Good bye” to his wife of nearly 38 years and he knew in his heart that it would be the last time he would speak to her again this side of heaven.
In an effort to keep our minds occupied on something other than Mom’s impending passing, we decided to visit my husband’s step sister, who had just had a baby girl weeks previous. Dad smiled at the tiny one and commented sadly, “One is born and one is leaving. That is the way life is.”
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
Yesterday I held my little grandson tightly, and giggled as his little face contorted in newborn grins. He was dreaming and twitching. I don’t know what newborns dream about, but it had to have been something funny because he grinned and then stuck his tongue out in his sleep. I held him but in my mind’s eye I saw the face of our precious friend, a gentle giant of a man, whom we learned had passed away the night before.
I called Ross my “huggy bear”, and he laughed whenever I called him that but he always lived up to the name, never letting me pass by him in church without giving me a huge bear hug. Every child in the entire church, including my own children also lined up for a hug from “Uncle” Ross. He liberally gave out hugs to everyone as he was so adored by so many. Tender of heart, sweet of spirit, he was a man of God, a mentor to the young men in the church, and a man who not only talked the Talk, he walked it every single day.
I hugged my new grandbaby, and with a tear trickling down my cheek in remembrance of that great man, I gave my grandson an extra squeeze and whispered to him, “That’s from “Uncle”Ross.” Baby Jaxon just grinned in his sleep and stuck out his tongue. I’m sure I could hear Ross laughing from heaven.
“…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)