Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Sweet Way to Remember a Loved One

   Death is no stranger to any of us. And if we have not yet suffered the loss of someone we love, it is inevitable that we will. Death has been a fact of life since Adam and Eve left the garden, and will be so until Jesus comes again. Even if we carry the surety of heaven in our hearts, the process of dying still gives us pause. When we bury someone that we love, we understand the fragility of life in a new and different way. As never before, we long for the day when death and dying shall be no more.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away...
I heard a loud voice saying, God's dwelling place is now among the people
and God himself shall be with them...
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. 
There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, 
for the old order of things has passed away. 
             From Revelation 21

    As a Christian, I am thankful to be of those who do not grieve without hope. Do Christians grieve? Absolutely! Yet the wonder is that the Holy Spirit miraculously keeps hope alive in our hearts. When we become believers, the hope of heaven is literally woven into the very fabric of our DNA. It cannot be denied. We may try, but hope works on us from the inside out, to bring us comfort, peace and a flicker of joy, even on the darkest of days. And so it is and has been with the Baby Sister.
     During the past two years, she and her husband, David, were an inspiration to me and many others, as against all odds, he chose life and fought hard and courageously to live each day on this earth that he had been given. When death finally came in July of this past year, David surrendered himself into the loving arms of His Savior and entered into the glory of life everlasting. Friends and family came near and far to cry, to weep, to rejoice, and to celebrate David Randell White's homegoing to heaven. My husband said it was the best funeral he had ever attended. It was hard, but it was good.
    My sister is keeping on with life since her husband passed away. I am sure that there are days when the depth of her loss takes her to her knees. And there are days when the grief of David's death is but a shadow that hovers and passes. Sometimes the nights are long and lonely and then there are times when she can sleep like a baby. Each day is different.
    The first holidays without a loved one can be especially difficult. The sense of loss is palpable. With Christmas coming, my sister came up with an idea for gifts for her children and grandchildren that would give them a tangible reminder of the father and grandfather they loved so much. Here is how it came about. In late summer when my sister began going through her husband's clothing, she found that there were several shirts that she was having a hard time parting with as they were a tangible reminder to her of her husband and of the special things he liked to do. There were his roping shirts (he was a team roper extraordinaire), his fishing shirts (he loved to flyfish and spend time on the Choctawhatchee Bay in his boat), his hunting shirts, his work shirts, his church shirts, and more. If you are getting the idea that this was a man who loved to spend time working outside enjoying God's marvelous creation, you would be right! David also loved to laugh, to sing, and as a man of great faith, he loved to worship the Lord with great freedom and joy. And even though he was a talented builder of note (one of his homes graced the cover of Coastal Living magazine), an incredible and creative problem solver, who was pragmatic, thrifty, and resourceful, he could be tough, if he needed to be. Yet David Randell White was a man with a great sense of humor, who loved his wife and his family and his Lord above all else. In short, he had the heart of a teddy bear. So the Baby Sister took his favorite shirts and made them into bears.
    One son loved to fish with his Dad, so his bear was made from a shirt he had seen his father wear when they fished together. One of the granddaughters loved nothing better than watching "Pa" roping his cows, so she was given a bear made from a roping shirt complete with a pocket with snaps. There was a bear with a camouflage look made from a hunting shirt, a soft flannel shirt oft worn became another favored bear. And the list went on. No two were alike. My sister had a bear made for herself out of a church shirt because some of her favorite memories were of standing beside her husband as they worshipped the Lord together. One special touch is that there are bears set aside for grandchildren yet to be born. 
   My sister's found a wonderful way to remember her husband. It's an idea that David would definitely appreciate. He would be glad that the shirts are no longer hanging unused in the closet!
    And from what I understand, on Christmas Day my sister's home was filled with lots of laughter coupled with the shedding of sweet tears. I'm pretty sure that was the case on both sides of heaven. 

 Here is the tag that accompanied each bear. My sister designed it and included a very special scripture that meant a great deal to her and her husband.

      It's a simple gift. Nothing too fancy and nothing too fine. Just a bear made out of an old shirt that belonged to someone they loved. A sweet way of remembering, wouldn't you agree?

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