Update on Gary and a Father’s Day Memo, June 17, 2012

Today is Father’s day.

Gary has been in bed now for several weeks, mostly sleeping but also looking out the window and tolerating our best efforts at turning, cleaning, caring for him. He is not conversational but does respond with head nods and an occasional word or phrase. His grip is impressively strong (we spend a good deal of time holding his hands), his appetite is good, and he is still mercifully pain free. He never complains and never shows impatience with us. 

He is still the best brother in the world. 

Sincere thanks for your continued concern and prayers.

– – – – – –

Here’s a quick thought about Father’s day  … 

Some background first. A decade or more ago, after lots of thought and for reasons well-founded, i made the decision to decline all requests or invitations to sing at weddings. And then, when Gary got sick about a year ago, i made a decision to cancel obligations already on my calendar and to decline new work until our cancer season was over. 

So … it should have been very easy to simply say “no” when i was asked just yesterday to sing at a wedding scheduled for next weekend, right?

Sheriff Mike Jolley is one of the best things about the county in which i live. He is a good friend, a devoted follower of Christ, a regular participant at the Thursday morning men’s gathering on my porch, a generous man with a veteran sense of humor, husband of Cindy, twice a father and a grandfather several times over. 

One of his granddaughters is 4 year old Ramsey. 

i’m not sure why but Sheriff Jolley is not keen on having pets at his house. Some time ago, apparently to address the “i want a pet” wish that children have, Mike gave Ramsey two pet rocks. Yes, rocks. Stones. About the size of a half dollar. One of the stones, he explained to me yesterday, is named Shania. It’s a girl. The other is a male named Obie. The two pet rocks ‘reside’ at the home of Sheriff Jolley and Cindy.

Well, as often happens in the make believe world of children, Ramsey, Shania and Obie have become best of friends through the magical processes that reward active imagination and childhood innocence. 

But a problem has arisen and must be resolved. 

Mike and Cindy, the caretakers of Shania and Obie and, do not allow Shania and Obie to sleep together at night.They are required to stay in separate containers. Propriety and morality dictate such. The good Sheriff and Cindy, who are trying to teach Ramsey (and their other grands) about abiding in the ways of the Lord, have taught and are teaching her that boys and girls should not stay in the same bed until they marry. 

Ramsey says that Shania and Obie have been best friends for a long time now and don’t like to be apart at night.

Ramsey says that she would like for them to be married. 

Next Sunday is the wedding.

Ramsey sent out invitations. 

A caterer will provide cake and other food.

A superior Court judge (Ramsey’s other grandfather) will perform the ceremony.

Sheriff Jolley will wear his tuxedo.

Ramsey and her cousins — the bridesmaids — will wear new dresses and will have their hair and nails beautified for the wedding.

And yes …

i shall sing at the wedding.

                         So where’s the Father’s day thought in all of this?

It would have been very easy for Sheriff Jolley (he’s a tough law enforcement man after all) to make light of Ramsey’s wish. He could have explained to her that these were merely rocks and that her idea was ridiculous. He could have ignored the idea and let time erase it from her memory. He could have disposed of Shania and Obie long before now. 

But Sheriff Jolley is a good grandfather and a kind man, one who knows all too well that children these days don’t get to be children for long. He is all too happy to make a fuss over one little girl and to honor her vocation of ‘play,’ to the end that her heart can flourish, even as she learns the depth of her grandfather’s  commitment to do her good. He is teaching Ramsey lessons for life — about marriage, about patience, about purity, and about gladness — in ways that her 4 year old heart can handle. And how many times in the future do you guess they’ll talk about the day the Obie married Shania. (i can easily imagine that the “Rock” couple will make an appearance at a wedding about 20 years from now.)

      Speaking of stones …

   You might recall that, in the Old Testament, God would sometimes have Israel take rocks, one for each tribe, and make small monuments to remind them of His providence, of their need, and of the nation’s purpose. Those stones of remembrance were perpetual sermons for the people, with the power to call their hearts and minds back to truths about how to live life and honor God. The ceremony of choosing, stacking, and securing the cairns was meant no doubt to make some lasting impression on the minds of those in attendance.

And as unlikely and far-fetched as it sounds, it might just be that, years from now, Ramsey will still have 2 small stones (and memories of a beautiful wedding with her big hearted grandfather) to remind her of things which ought never be forgotten. 

 So …  for me, next Sunday, three miles from home, i’ll sing at my first wedding in many years. 

 ImageAnd i can hardly wait to write the song.