In the strange ways of the world we’ve created online, I am sad tonight for a friend I’ve never met. We know the same people and we chat on Facebook. I’d recognize her if we passed each other in the street and I’d stop to hug her neck. She’s good people.
She’s saying farewell to her beloved grandfather. His body is worn out with living and he’s ready to go. He is safe and comfortable, wrapped up in love. His records play softly on the stereo. His girls have propped his favorite photos by the bed and tucked him under a warm quilt. Tended quietly by the people you love, the people you created–that’s the way to finish.
His ending hasn’t been a surprise. A few weeks ago, he answered a question about the future with, “Aw, honey–I’m too old to buy green bananas.” That joke says so much about how we have to live. We have to live with the hope for tomorrow–the green bananas. We invest then have to wait a while for it to sweeten up. We start out tough and grow softer as we have less time ahead of us.
Watching from the sidelines as Kathryn lives through these strange last hours makes me feel peaceful that Richard died at home. That I tended him. We could have fled with his failing body to the hospital and handed this frightening responsibility over to people who knew what they were doing, but we stayed at home. We might not have known what we were doing, but we knew how to do it. Gently, with great love. Fearlessly, with great courage.
That’s the same way we raise children or save our own lives or try to change the world. Gently, fearlessly, with love and with courage.
So if you are the praying type, whisper one for those who are saying goodbye, from both sides of the door. If you are the loving type, send a little more love into the world today in honor of a grandfather who sowed love and reaped love. I’ve never met him, but I’ll miss Mr. Thomas “Buddy” Ballew.
Here’s a video of a beautiful song about accepting when it’s time to say goodbye. It’s called “On Your Way” by East Mountain South. The story is of a man realizing what a mess he’s made of things with his woman. He’s wishing her well, sending her on her way–even though she’s already gone.
…so let his heart surround you, and let his arms protect you
and hold you every morning the way that I could never do
another life has blessed you, he wants the same as you do
so I must find the courage to send you on your way…