Just Trying to Get 'Home Free'
I was just about to close out the calendar on July when I realized that I had one more week to go before I could declare myself “home free.”
Granted, the month of July has been one of the most stressful of my life. But, in this case, there was hope since the definition related to having reached the state of being home free meant that the most difficult part was behind me.
It actually started around the middle of June when my close friend, Chuck, experienced a brief illness, which came and went without any seemingly serious consequences. But, 10 days later, he was back in the hospital. However, once again, he was released and this time sent to rehab.
That was when my brother, Mike, called from Oak Island to say that Crom Lennon had passed away on Father’s Day. Francis Cromartie Lennon was my father’s best friend. They were both founding members of Oak Island Presbyterian Church and took great pride in being the oldest among the congregation.
Before Daddy passed away, Crom used to say, “Luther, you’ve got to hang on because I don’t want to be first in line at the Pearly Gates.” Daddy passed away three days short of his 98th birthday. Crom was in his 97th year. The service was scheduled for Thursday, June 30, and numerous members of my family planned to be in attendance.
We had not disposed of my father’s ashes because we were waiting for the “new bridge” to open. Plans were to put some around the foundation of the church, throw some off the long-awaited bridge and scatter the remainder at Kerr Lake.
The bridge had finally opened, and we had made arrangements to meet with the minister at 9:30 on Saturday morning.
But when we entered the church shortly before 11 a.m., we were told that another family friend, Jim Locke, age 85, had passed away on Wednesday evening.
Since it was expected, funeral arrangements had already been made. Jim’s service was scheduled at the same hour on Saturday morning.
In both cases, lovely and sometimes humorous tributes were made in remembrance of two men who had lived full lives.
Crom was remembered for always carrying a full flask and for being able to play 14 instruments, ranging from the organ and piano to a washtub.
Jim’s grown grandson remarked that his grandfather had given him some good advice. He was to eat all the crab legs he could get and to have them with some good cold beers. Secondly, he was told that women liked men who could dance. He vowed to take lessons.
When we returned to Mike’s house, I had a call from Chuck’s son saying his father had been rushed back to the hospital. The dominoes were beginning to fall. The following Friday, I attended the last of three consecutive funerals. It was the hardest.
At the reception, Chuck’s family illuminated the fact that he was a shining example of being “a self-made man.” And his friends spoke spontaneously of how he had enjoyed his life in the Sandhills. In summary, he had given up seven weeks in exchange for 86 good years.
Even then, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the fact that almost all of today’s funerals are conducted as a “celebration of life.”
What happened to showing some sign of grieving and shedding tears? Didn’t that help the bereaved?
Then, I came across a card that had a particularly meaningful message: “Just as the sun will set then rise with each and every dawn/the souls of those who lived life well eternally live on/Now that the sun has seemed to set on those so very dear/Please know a soul who lived so well remains forever near.”
I’m not sure that the most difficult part is behind me.
But, it helps to know that three fine men got past theirs and made it — home free.
Contact Southern Pines writer Lois Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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