Lights and Lanterns

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LanternMy father-in-law died this week. Peacefully in his bed, with all of us holding onto him, he drew his last breath. My mother-in-law read “How Do I Love Thee?” and we all cried. He was a true light-bearer as a pastor and a career Navy Chaplain. Although sudden blindness beset him the last four years of his life, his demeanor never changed. He was humble, grateful, a lover of life, literature, and learning to the end.
That night, as my husband, Tim, and I made up the sofa bed in his parents’ den, his mother handed us an electric lantern for “finding our way in the dark.” I immediately thought of Dad finding his way in the darkness of sudden blindness. It must’ve been lonely, scary, and humiliating in the first stages. But he forged on with fortitude and faith, commenting on Shakespeare, and enjoying food like never before.
Interesting isn’t it, that a man who couldn’t see was such a light-bearer for us? His life of Christian service, his loving marriage, and his passion for words have inspired me for 30 years. As we were singing, praying, and reciting verse to him at the end, I imagine he finally opened those striking blue eyes. But this time instead of darkness, he saw the True Light at the other end of life. Surely, he was so dazzled that he couldn’t help but draw near. And now, as his footing becomes more sure, ours falters, for we are the one’s left blind, wobbly, and lonely without him.
Occasionally, though, when I hear a Tennyson poem, or the passion in my son’s voice, I know Dad is radiating through, not because of who he was, but because of whom he loved. And this world is not so dark anymore.

3 thoughts on “Lights and Lanterns

  1. Kari Kemnitz

    My thoughts and prayers are with you
    and your loved ones. Thank you for sharing with us what a blessing he was in all of your lives.

  2. Julie,

    This was such a moving story. Thanks again for all your kindness and support over the years and for being a fervent supporter of my music. My best to you and Tim on your new life in Florida.

    -Rockett

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