Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This I know: there is a God...

Yesterday, I took the scenic route from Ellijay to Northcroft, after leaving Logan's Funeral Home and a family visitation for my friend Gene Oliver. I was already filled with a great sense of community because of the people who had gathered there, giving loving, protective strength to each other. I had the same reflective memory that I did at my father's funeral: "He must have lived well, to have all this glory in death.”

Driving home, the rolling hills along Boardtown Road were another sight to behold. (If you have never driven that road, let me suggest that you do.) Among the neat farm houses, cow pastures, and tall trees turning beautiful colors, the pumpkin fields were popping with an amazing harvest. It was yet another sign of work well done: first planting the seed, nurturing during the growing season, and finally the reward of the harvest. Funny how God gives us all the answers, if we just take time to see them.

Gene's funeral service was something out of an old-time patriotic movie. It took place in the Boardtown Church of Christ, where Gene and his family have been members for many years. Every seat was filled.

A handful of dignified veterans from the North Georgia Honor Guard, marched down the center aisle, to perform an impressive ceremony reserved for the dwindling number of WWII heroes. They told the soldier's story of what binds them together; they fired their guns, saluted their comrade, folded the flag while describing what each fold represented, and proudly presented it to Evelyn, Gene's wife of 50 years. Wow. They had me with the beautiful old harmonic mountain hymns, sung without instruments or need of them.

Driving rain hemmed the service in the church building all afternoon. We so desperately needed the rain that no one minded much, and prayers of thanksgiving were offered for the life-giving water. Gene was buried in the church cemetery next to his daughter, who died at an early age in a car crash.

Down Bushy Head Road, everyone gathered in the blue Fellowship building to comfort each other and talk about Gene's life. The women of the church brought food enough to feed everyone who stopped by! (Countless times past, Evelyn helped fill these tables for others; now it was done for her and her family.) All our mountain neighbors were there, welcoming us as family, asking about Kate and remembering stories of her childhood. How lovely that so many remembered.

Terrence came from work to join me at the funeral. He, too, enjoyed the fellowship (and I could have sworn that I saw him sneaking desserts!).

Oh, one more thing, you won't believe it...

As we were leaving, the rain stopped and the sky opened up, revealing a large, perfect rainbow, distinct from one end to the other. We named it Gene's Rainbow. Everyone went out to see the glorious sight...

Another promise that God is near and all is well.

In every life come days of pain

When faith seems far, hard to retain:

But still His love shines through.

God works for good in everything,

His purpose sure is flourishing

To those who love the Lord.


Queenie said...

Oh! Merry thank you for such a
sweet tribute to Gene (and his
Family) I have never seen a family
better loved by the old time
neighbors, as well as the new
comers in recent years, such as
you and Terrence. They even sold
some of their property for strangers to build a get-away home
on. Then took them in as almost
family. No need to worry about
Evelyn, she will be taken care of.
I hope you gave my love and regards
to Evelyn. It is hard to 'spoil' the feeling of quaint sanctuary to
cars passing every half hour. I hope you gave my love and thought to Evelyn.

Elaine Sims said...

What a lovely tribute to a fine man. Thank you for describing the day. It made me feel as though I was there. The rainbow was wonderful! A refreshing rain and a perfect rainbow - God's comfort as the angels bring him home.

Lucille Collins said...

There are no words eloquent enough to express how much your kind words and pictures, Kate's moving poem and all the sweet comments mean to me and all of us. I can't tell you how many times Mom talked about your blog to her many visitors. It gave her such comfort and helped give words to the pride we all felt in Daddy. I miss him so much, but I know we'll all be together again someday. Makes heaven all that much more worthwhile. You and Terrence and your family are precious to us and I am honored to know you. Thank you so much for all you have done. Love, Lucille