Friday, November 6, 2009

Ready to Fly

A friend and I were in Arizona and we drove to the Grand Canyon where we climbed aboard a helicopter for an aerial flight over the Canyon, and my first ride in a helicopter. Sitting in this glass bubble cockpit, the landscape came at me from underneath and every side surpassing an IMAX rush. The copter company’s slogan was ‘Ready to Fly.’

My mother, not consciously, but effectively, was ready to fly ever since she was a young girl. In her case, it took an entire lifetime to finally experience that for which her training had prepared her. She was 88 years old when she went to heaven. But she was ready to fly much sooner.

On this date, November 6th, 2007, Mom dismissed gravity and her spirit soared. For the past several years of her life she had steadily lost so much of the vibrancy and power that had marked her identity through all the years that her three boys and eventually their spouses knew her.

As a very young woman she was a strikingly lovely prairie woman who bedazzled a debonair and balding young man with a pencil thin mustache who was known in his home town of Hepburn as the whistler. Hepburn was a predominantly German Mennonite community and Mom committed herself by faith to Christ as a young girl. She stepped outside the norm in marrying Dad who while born to church going parents had himself not yet made a faith commitment but was otherwise a really good guy. Soon after their first son was born, (me), her husband enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force as WWII raged overseas. When the war was over Ed and Tina started a coffee shop on Hepburn’s main street. Soon after however, they moved to St. Catharines, Ontario in hopes of a better standard of living and a brand new beginning. Dad got a job at Thompson Products, then the Ontario Paper Mill and finally Anthes Imperial. He was always a factory labourer, always proud of the quality of his work and the reputation he established with his foreman and peers. Mom was in love with him all of her life, confident in him, safe in his care. Then when he was in his mid-thirties he too placed his faith exclusively in Jesus Christ, and now Mom had a spiritual partner as well. She was a woman with an entrepreneurial spirit, whether it was cleaning houses for someone else, sewing garments, or starting a successful catering business. She was married to a one woman man who encouraged her in every ambitious pursuit. She assembled a cook book entitled “My Heritage” with illustrations by my brother Neale and me. She was a leader of women, a helper, a confidant, a reluctant speaker, and a woman totally amazed that God could and would use her, and use her three sons in Christian work, and give her three daughters in law whom she loved like daughters. Gradually in her late eighties, her recollections clouded, and her communication diminished and her enjoyment of life here disappeared. And finally, although she had never wanted Dad to be the one left behind, she was ready to fly. There was lift off. She was 88. At the age of 92 Dad stood by her side and in the company of us all he said, “Good night sweetheart. I’ll be seeing you soon.” Dad only hung around for six months before he too became airborne. That’s easy to understand.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Friend Bob

We are heading home from Phoenix to Seattle to Bellingham. This is a great day.
For the past ten days I have been in Bob's company to provide service to him, as his chauffeur, gofer and you name it. Best of all, we are friends. He has been here for surgery, his thirtieth surgery, a consequence of an horrific vehicle accident in June 2006. In that accident an out of control car struck his rental van. His wife Donna, and his mother Lillian died because of that crash. His daughter Kim and his son in law Brent were severely injured as he himself was. The young couple's several months old son was spared injury.

I helped to officiate the memorial service for the two women more than a month after the accident - sufficient time for the three adults to be well enough to be wheeled into church. Three wheel chairs occupied by surviving members of a loved family moved the congregants to erupt in a spontaneous and heart-felt standing O salted with tears.

These have been difficult years with many challenges for Bob and for me to share these days with him has been my privilege. I love this man of God. We have talked and prayed and laughed much.