Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been 84. Of course, the fact that he was 83 when he died in March is no small miracle(!) As a quadriplegic the last 25+ years (15 as a bedfast quad), Papa’s doctors couldn’t believe it when he turned 70! then 75! then 80!
I guess we became so accustomed to seeing Papa rebound (through God’s grace) from myriad hospital episodes, that his passing in March startled us – it happened so quickly (altho he was dreadfully sick from January thru March 8th.) It makes me grateful that each day we celebrated the gift of life. That our evening ‘routine’ before lights out included lots of ‘i love you’s’ and ‘I am so grateful to God for you’s. (Then there was Papa’s daily verbiage with Mama that included LOTS of mushy sentiments – egads, the Mush Police never had enough ticket paper!)
October is usually an extremely festive time in the Woodward home. Mentioning Papa’s upcoming birthday to my friend Ann last week, she said, “didn’t Dick usually celebrate the whole month?”
He did. October was always filled with celebratory meals (with extra sugar-free goodies & even -gasp!- special dietary-off limit pizza slices), special visits from friends and family, cards & calls from afar, and birthday gifts of all shapes & sizes.
This October? Quiet.
The NFL and College Football seasons are in full swing, yet our TV remains quiet. No more walls shaking from games blasting out in the living room.
Dad’s daily appointments (that kept us hopping managing the revolving door) no longer visit. Most days his computer stands quietly in the corner (vs. the high action voice-activated busy days of past.)
It’s quiet around here (until Fridays when my sister teaches piano lessons all afternoon for Mama to enjoy. My grandmother was a music teacher & Mama played the violin in the Norfolk Symphony when she was 15! music lifts us all, ‘specially our musical Mama when it’s little kiddies playing their hearts out!)
It’s quiet. There’s a Papa-sized hole in my heart, in my life – in our lives – Mama, Dwight, our family, friends, church and community.
We miss him. Lots(!) Sometimes (especially during this birthday month), my heart sputters the blues.
Then it seems like the veil between here & the Heavenlies grows kinda thin. (Like once as i belabored ‘gender-izing’ one of Papa’s 4 Spiritual Secret blog posts from references of the inner ‘man’ to inner ‘person’ & ‘being’ when, poof! the draft disappeared. Heavenly laughter encased the thought: Papa wrote it like that. Leave it as it is! Suddenly the 1st draft with all the inner-‘man’s & outer ‘man’s appeared. I’m not kidding! 🙂 )
Back to the thin veil & overcoming Papa’s birthday month blues. The other nite ICM hosted a lovely praise & worship celebration at the First Presbyterian Church of Hampton. As the choir began with a glorious song, an angelic soloist lifted the blues right out of my heart. Reading the words in the program as she sang, it seemed like electric communication from the Other Side.
The Rain is Over and Gone
The rain is over and gone, the winter is passing by
The time for singing has come, and the clouds have parted from the sky.
Arise, my love, and come away, for lo! The winter is past,
The rain is over and gone, my love,
Come away, my fair one, come away.
We will rise and go to the city, the city without walls,
Where we can live in freedom, to the new Jerusalem we’re called.
Arise, my love, my fair one, for lo! The winter is gone,
The flowers appear on the earth again,
And the time for singing has come.
Sing of life and love and laughter, sing of freedom to live in peace,
And there shall be no more crying, only joy that will never cease.
(lyrics from the Song of Solomon & Paul Halley)
So, now as the flowers bloom, may we sing of Papa’s life, love and laughter …as we know he is in a pain-free place where joy never ceases.
Luckily there are lots of memories of fun & laughter, including the time he zipped his Amigo onto the grass during my university-era days to get this ‘impish’ picture. When his Amigo subsequently toppled over, he asked several hunky football-player types to help him get up (& made sure they met his self-conscious 1st year daughter! : )
grace, peace & holy hilarity
Virginia : )
p.s. We are celebrating Papa-style today. Many of you know how much Papa enjoyed good eats, so we took Mama out for breakfast… & will be having PIZZA for dinner in his honor. (Vegan Virginia is taking the Day Off! )
p.s.2 Clink this link to hear Paul Halley’s song on Y-Tube
Hilarious. Lucky daughter of a lucky father. He taught you well
Thanx, Anita! So blessed to have experienced Papa’s attitude of gratitude & humor lens up close for so long – he had a way of making the unfunny funny (things like calling his weekly bowel routine “The Party” – when folks would call, we’d tell them, “Mama & Papa are partying, so can’t take your call 🙂 Lots of grace & peace & LoLs to you!
Peace. Blessings abundant. Precious memories. And always, always resurrection peise and hope.
Thanx so much, Sharron. These memories (& many more) are very precious. So appreciate your reminder, it’s ALWAYS about our hope & peace in the Resurrection. Blessings to you & your ministry(!) Grace, Peace & HOPE
I’ve been thinking about Dad today too, GL, and loved reading your blog and remembering! xo
Cin – Saturday a.m.Dwight downloaded the Paul Halley CD (via iTunes) “Sound Over all Waters” that has the ‘Rain is Over & Gone’ song.. Atho Paul Halley is a big-time organist & choral music director, this particular CD is A GOSPEL COMPILATION(!!) Big yaaaaays & hallelujahs from your sis, the former 4 yr HCSC gospel choir member. (ut oh, have a feeling you will find it on the Gospel Playlist – the whole CD rocks : )
We are so blessed we have so much to remember of Papa & that his legacy of love & faith & hope & joy & perseverance lives on…. lots of grace, peace & hugs – GL
Ginny, thanks for sharing this post and your precious father’s birthday with us! Your comments about the quiet put into words so well what must accompany loss for so many. So loved your father! Happy Birthday in heaven Dick!! We miss you, but imagine you have by now convinced even God that the entire MONTH of October should be yours for celebration of your birth!! Rene
Thanx Rene, ‘specially for that image of Papa convincing God to make October a month-long party. Melanie Souder said he is probably busy Up There making sure Jesus is marketing the Mini Bible College (!!) After the last ICM update there sure is lots to celebrate with the MBC now in 31 languages (& 10 more in translation!!!) Lots of blessings to you & your ministries (i am a big fan of Beyond Boobs!!)
grace, peace & Heavenly Celebrations – VA : )
My iPhone reminder popped up first thing this morning that it was Dick Woodward’s birthday. I’ve been missing him a lot. So glad to read that you are all celebrating. We have a lot to be grateful for and celebrate. God less!
Thanx so much, John. We can never thank you enough for all you did for Papa (!!) Mama uses his gigantic computer screen every Sunday to watch WCC & then my brother Dean & then David Jeremiah and then….(it gets lots of Sunday use!) We also use it during the week for her to read/see/check out emails from family, Thank you also for remembering Papa on your Veracity Blog – it’s always special to see your links & read what you’re into (altho sometimes it’s way over my head! : )
Lots of grace, peace & appreciation – VA
Very well said, GL. Precious and fond memories.
Thank you, Markus! We are so blessed that you will keep us linked to Papa’s hilarious tendencies (will never forget the funny faces you made through the front window when you couldn’t spread your germs to Papa in February, but you did spread joy as we laughed our heads off with your antics!) Never change, Mark!
grace, peace & holy hilarity – gL : )
What a beautiful post. I think of “Dick” ( that’s what he insisted on being called when I asked ) so often. I loved seeing a glimpse into your lives with him. He was such an incredible man and influence on my families lives. I miss the “sweet little brown-eyed pastor”. Your family is in my prayers as you celebrate and miss him 🙂
Thank you, Grace. Papa’s ‘sweet little brown eyes’ got him (& sometimes us) into lots of trouble occasionally..He would cut those eyes up to us (& you & others) & how could we ever say ‘no?’ Thanx so much for your prayers & encouragement.
grace, peace & celebration(s) – Virginia : )
Wonderful post – achingly beautiful, honest, real. Thank you for sharing your heart and your memories. Your dad was a meaningful part of my life for 30 years and what I learned from him continues to shape me today. He and your mom made such a difference, were such an encouragement to Jack and me years ago when we first came to Williamsburg. So thankful for your whole family. (And making memories is never ever a waste of time or money – Happy celebration month!)
Thanx so much, Faith. You have been such a bright light over those 30 years – thanks for your encouragement & prayers & all that you have done & are doing for Christ all over the world. We are all blessed with lots of memories of Papa & Mama together, & now we are making new ones with Mama… precious times all around. Life is a gift!
grace, peace & precious memories – Ginny Lea : ). …