Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The "eyes" have it

When an assembly gathers to discuss various issues, often times the moderator questions the group for further discussion before asking for approval or disapproval on the issues.  Our democratic system was founded on this very principle.  If you have ever been to Independence Hall, you can almost hear the echoes of the founding fathers hashing out the details of the Declaration of Independence followed by their yeas or nays to decide its fate.  Over time, those yeas or nays became, "all in favor, say I", and that's what most of us are familiar with today.  However, there are some "eyes" that simply let you see into a person's soul and that's where this story begins.

My father was a man of great faith, and I truly believe that it was his faith that brought him home.  He was 93 and had had a very good life, but the years had taken their toll.  For a man of his advanced age however, he was extremely sharp until the very end, and it was his keen insight that allowed him to give us  the warning of his rather precipitous decline.  Retrospectively however, his decline began long before he informed us, but true to his personality, he never complained.  That's the way he wanted it.

When he awoke just 2 days before his death, he reported that he had no appetite, and that was the sign that the end was near.  He rested comfortably during that time, and he was so weak, he could only muster the energy to say his goodbyes to those who weren't present.  He spoke to his brother and the grandchildren who could not get there in time.  One of his grandchildren, who he hadn't seen for awhile wanted to speak to him, as much as he wanted to speak to her.  When the two spoke, the exchange was as you'd expect, emotional, but he managed to rally enough to say that she should know that she had a wonderful dad while raising his arm to hug his son.  You could sense that this took just about every last ounce of energy available.  After that, he listened while we prayed and sang to a dying man who had lived a very full life.

Over the next several hours, we held vigil, reading to him, reminiscing, crying, praying and singing.  As this beautiful man lay helpless in his bed, we all were witnessing this transformation of life to death that was miraculous.  As he gave up his spirit, several of us witnessed different things.  I saw his face being transformed, while others saw his eyes open and reveal this radiant blue color.  Meanwhile, in spite of the fear that death oftentimes creates, no one, including the youngest of the grandchildren, was afraid.  It was beautiful, magnificent, and sad all at the same time but completely peaceful.  It was a gift to us, even in death.

As the days following his death have passed, I have experienced an emptiness over the loss of my father, but I am reassured through further discussions, that he left this world for a better place.  He left us, but I know, too, that he left his mark by teaching us his gentle ways, to love life, seek to learn new things, but most importantly, he gave us faith.  If I ask my siblings what they think, I am absolutely sure that they will unananimously agree; and "the eyes have it"!