Friends, family and loved ones, this is the last
e-mail (only as far as the updates go) regarding Pa's illness and death.
We buried him yesterday at 1pm in Olive Branch Cemetery, Portsmouth Virginia.
Family and friends came from across the map. One of my best friends, Drew, an ordained
minister in the Free Methodist Church, conducted the committal service, which was done
with full military honors. One of my best friends, Russ, whom I have known since
childhood, stood by my side every day for the past several. And of course, we all closed
in a circle of love around Ma.
I knew from the beginning that Pa had at best, an uphill battle to fight. He did the
best he could for as long as he could. His last lessons to me were of patience, and an
opportunity to learn how best to look after and care for my Ma. As you would expect, Pa
made good plans, and her future is safe and secure.
A good thought I would share with all of you from the committal service. In times like
this, do not ask yourself, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Ask
instead, "What do good people do when bad things happen?" The first question
paralyzes, for there is no good answer. The second uplifts, because it provides the
opportunity to love, protect and serve one another.
Below is something I wrote which was included in Pa's service. I wrote it the morning
of his funeral, inspired in part by a Scripture that one of you was kind enough to share
Some thoughts from a son about his father.
Pa went through some very tough times in his life. He grew up in the hardest depths of
the Great Depression, and fought as an infantryman in World War Two all in the first
twenty years of his life. These experiences could have made a man turn inward and become
bitter and closed off to others. Instead, these and other tough experiences in life
tempered Pa, like a fine silversmith prepares and purifies the metal. He became more open.
He became gentle and loving. Pa became a magnificent husband and father. He was, and is, a
safe haven; a best friend.
While studying the Scriptures, a person came upon a remarkable expression in the third
chapter of Malachi, third verse:
"And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
This person visited a silversmith. Without telling the object of the errand, they asked
the silversmith to tell them about the process of refining silver. After he had fully
described it to them, they asked, "But Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is
"Oh, yes," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily
fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest
degree, the silver will be injured."
This person at once saw the beauty, and comforts too, of the expression, "He shall
sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." God sees it needful to put His children
into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and
love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He
will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.
Before they left, the person asked one final question, "When do you know the
process is complete?"
"Why that is quite simple," replied the silversmith. "When I can see my
own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."
Pa has been refined by The Silversmith of man, and God's reflection can be seen clearly
in my father. He will always be my best friend.
To all of you that have walked this path with us, my mother, brothers and I send our
deepest thanks and gratitude.