What a time we can have with grief. I don't know about you, but for me, I want to surround myself in the comfort of familiar things, things that remind me of my sweetheart. His shoes on the closet floor, his hat on the shelf, his journal and scriptures near the bed...everything is almost the same, as if he never left. Seeing his familiar things makes the space created by his absence not quite so, um, empty. Our home is filled with a mix of things that have become 'Us'. Treasures from his time in South America and Samoa, treasures from my passion for Church History, indications of our mutual love for music, and walls filled with pictures of our families, the real treasures of our lives. Even now each day I am surrounded by sweet familiar comfort. Each morning and evening, sitting at the table he made brings me comfort too...he touched this table, therefore he is still present.
Now I do believe that he is certainly present, watching and blessing his loved ones from the other side. While I don't need the table to feel comfort, it helps. Stability in a table. :)
His children want comfort too. They want, even need to have some of his things. In the same way that I gain comfort from the sameness of having these things near me, they want and need to have reminders of his presence in their lives. This becomes problematic. There is only one table. The table is central to their memories. There were several bookcases made by him...most of which the children have put to use in their homes. But there is only one table. And his children have said they want the table, too. What to do? Hmmmmm
As usual, my answer came in a song. Neil Diamond was in town and I lucked out with an invitation to his concert from my sweet daughters-in-law. Oh, the memories! Oh the rhythmic, happy music! I was literally dancing in my seat. :) And then...well, what are the chances he would sing a rather obscure song, one that I had fallen in love with many years ago, Morningside. A song about a man who died and left a handmade treasure for his children.
"And the legs were shaped with his hands
And the top made of oaken wood
And all of the children who gathered around this great table touched it with their laughter.
Ah, and that was good...
And when he died he left a table made of nails and pride
And with his hands he carved these words inside, 'For my children'."
I sat in that concert and cried. Dumb, I know.
Now really, the song is about leaving legacies. And Robert did that. He left a lifelong example of faith, devotion and service. He loved and served everyone he met. I knew what he wanted his children to remember; he wanted them to remember to love others more than themselves, and to serve God with all their hearts. He left lasting treasures in the many friendships he created, as well as the beautiful works of his hands. Treasures from his heart. Those treasures should be quite enough for anyone to have.
He also left treasures he made with his hands. And just as having things of his that remind me of him bring me comfort, having these things he made with his hands would also bring his children comfort and hopefully remind them of the real treasures of his life, the treasures from his heart he hoped they would remember. I have loved the times with Robert, with children and grandchildren around that table. Meals, games, pumpkin carving, coloring pictures, beautiful memories have been made around that table. Those memories bring me joy. Neil Diamond reminded me of that. The table belongs to me, but it was made for his children. So in a few days, Brenda will bring her car and take away the treasure left by her father. I will miss using it daily...that will be hard. But when I do, I will think about how our grandchildren will still gather around it, and it will always be good. I will find joy in thinking about how when the children talk about Grandpa, who made the table, they will talk about all the good things he did, and how he loved God and served others, and...that will be good, too.
"And with his hands he carved these words inside, 'For my children'"
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