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)
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