Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blue Butterfly

This morning the tune, "For All the Saints" is running through my mind. Today at church we will observe the Methodist version of the Feast of All Souls, traditionally the day after the Feast of All Saints in the Catholic Church. This year I have a loss to mark in that service since my father passed away in May. I never dreamed that I would be doing this today. I planned on it being in about 20 or so years. Sixty-seven is too young to die, but my father couldn't fight the infection any longer and he was weary plus the best reason to give up in his condition was the most important to him, he longed for his mother who is one of the saints/souls that I think of on this important day in the church, though I don't need this day to remember the saints in glory.

I spent two hours with Pop just before he died. Very meaningful hours where we sat knee to knee, he on the side of the bed and me in a chair directly in front of him. In so many words you could say that he confessed his sins, as if I was wearing the purple stole of a priest and could grant absolution, though I anointed him after his death, a priestly duty. But I'm not a priest, only my father's son and with all the wisdom that God gave me in those moments I told my father that he needn't think on those things from the past any longer, since "God puts our sins as far as the east is from the west and forgets them completely," why did anyone have a right to hold them against him still. In less than a half an hour after I left at one in the morning the hospital called me to return, he had taken a turn for the worse, in a matter for four minutes I was back at his bedside, it pays to live within sprinting distance of the hospital, sometimes. I had to make the decision to cease heroic measures, I said stop, 1:57AM.

My father was a giant of a man, physically. Six foot and nearly 385 pounds, (down from 410) he literally was a big big man. Since his mid fifties he became for me a cheerleader. Imagine a four hundred pound man jumping up and down! And please, he was a male cheerleader the tiny skirt was never a thought. He continually expressed his pride in me and the way that I faced situations. He understood my loneliness and came to embrace my homosexuality. He told me that he prayed each day that I would be happy, that he did that for each of his children, grandchildren and for Mom, and that by happiness he meant that we would have a loving and caring companion with whom to share our lives, in a way a prayer for himself as well. I live in faith that now that my father is one of the saints, he asks God for that still each day of our lives. My father became for me a Gentle Giant a big man with an even bigger heart.

Today at church, in a service that in the past was more elaborate, that spoke more richly to me, I will light a candle to mark my father's death. I know that my dad is, "watching from the rafters", not just on days marked on the church calendar, but each day.

The day that my family interred my fathers ashes we had a big, and by big I mean big, dinner. About sixty members of his family were present to say a last good bye and in true Bryant fashion, pitch a table or two and start cooking. The Gentle Giant didn't get that size by watching Slim Fast ads. While food was being carried to the tables, chairs put in place, coolers opened, a bright blue butterfly appeared and lit on each of the children, some in their hair, on some it lit on their shoulders. The butterfly circled around all three of my sisters and their friends, my cousins and my aunts and uncles. It lit on my mom's hat it danced around my head and then it made a, if you will, a bee-line for the dinner table. The butterfly landed on nearly every dish and circled the pies twice. Then as my aunts and uncles began to leave the butterfly flew away. My father? Who knows really, I don't believe in, "do overs" when it comes to the body, but I do believe in signs of God's grace and comfort and that he uses the common for uncommon purposes.

My aunt's brother passed away recently. I sent her a card and had given a gift in his memory to my favorite charity. I received a thank you note from her this week, a note inside, I laid the card down to read the note and when I looked on the back of it, there was a tiny blue butterfly. Sent from the higher rafters, I'm going to say....yes.


Blogger The Voice said...

What a touching honor for your father. I lost mine just a little over a year ago. I found that blogging about him has brought me tremendous comfort - for suffering is universal.

My heart is with you inthis time of remembrance and I too will pray for your father today.

May the butterflies continue to abound in your life.


10:21 AM  
Blogger Don Jerome said...

thank you for your kind words, yes, grief and suffering are universal. If it was more universally understood, would it still be there.

I am grateful for the prayers on behalf of my father, there is peace on the other side of Jordan, I'm confident.

3:31 PM  
Blogger April_night said...

I think a lot about that butterfly. How odd it was that it should come on such a somber day. I think it was a sign of grace....God's bountiful grace. I thank Him every day for blue butterflies.

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