Birth and death are linked just so
often it seems, as an older family member passes
a new one is born

I’ve been touched by death along the way
Grandpa Warfel, on a hospital bed
my sister and I had been brought
so his final wishes could be spoken
In my mind’s eye, still
at age 13 then,
I picture clearly I laid my head on his chest
as he spoke what he wanted to say
I could feel his heart beating
and knew he hadn’t long

Grandma, then grandpa Hinton
were next to go, although
they always seemed far away
I didn’t see them much
and wasn’t close at all to them
So I remember their funerals
but both in a surreal kind of way

Then came Grandma Warfel, 96
passing in her sleep one night
Having visited with childhood friends the day before
laughing, remembering, she slipped away
Her simple wisdom remains in me
in so many different expressions

Then came Papaw, my step dad,
so much like my biological father, I’m told.
Neat guy! So bright! Great vocabulary!
Fun! We worked together learning farming
until illness pulled him away, slowly declining
Parkinson’s. A tough one.
I sat with him through the night
pneumonia challenging each breath
stopped, but his heart kept beating!
I quickly stepped across the hall
where my exhausted mom was sleeping
and we stood by his side
as a nurse listened to his heart
two long minutes, and it stopped.
I stepped out into the hallway
and looked out a window south
to watch the sun rising, beautifully…

Next came mom
and once again in the middle of the night
My sister and I were at her side, holding her hand
systems had been failing
and she spoke no more
but I talked with her of happy times
until her last breath came
and she moved from this earthly body
to the heaven she was certain

Grandma Perry was next to go
again our family was there
injured in an accident
we spoke to her of special times
and then she stopped breathing
released from pain, and suffering
Death came quickly to her.

With all these passings
I was aware
at funerals, were small children
and expectant mothers
The seasons of life laid clearly out
the generations represented

Life is precious
and days are counted into years
we, not knowing, must do our best
to act justly
love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God*

Lin, 9/2011 *Micah 6:8