I've been posting bits and pieces on Facebook about my father-in-law and his passing last week. The first of the week, I thought how in the mid nineties, I'd walk at Buhl Park in the morning on days off. I worked per Diem, so I had more days off.
In the distance, three men often walked in front of me. I don't remember ever really catching up with them. The first one wore a ball cap and had that stocky walk of my father-in-law. The second, also had a ball cap and was just a bit taller than the first, reminding me of my dad. The last of the trio had soft wavy white hair, like Uncle Homer, Lyle's new brother-in-law. I would watch them conversing as they strode the road. I called them Lyle, Jerry and Homer.
I'm glad in a way, I never caught up to them. These three men portrayed the camaraderie of that generation to me. They could be swapping war stories or of how they got they bought their first car and house. Maybe a camping trip mishap could be thrown in. An earlier story of skinny dipping in the river, maybe could have been passed between them. If I had known the real men, I wouldn't have thought of the three I knew.
The week before Lyle died, I approached the park with Harrison and snapped pictures. The sunlight low in the sky flowing into the groomed lawn and trees always makes me think of Heaven. A slice of Heaven, I called the picture I took.
The picture in my mind of Lyle, Jerry and Homer, now all in Heaven, entered my mind's eye. Now, arthritis gone, gives them a smoother stride. I see them without pain of cancer or dementia, still offering words of wisdom and concerns of love. There are no days in Heaven, but the group may mix up at times, joined by Leon and Clark with Lyle and Dave and Bill with Jerry. Maybe the baby brothers they never knew are playing with them. I don't know Homer's family to imagine who would join him in strolls through the garden of Heaven.
In the midst of it all, Jesus joins and plays, too. Yes, Jesus plays. Remember on the road to Emmaus? He literally played hide-n-seek with those two men and disappeared when they recognized Him.
I also think there is work to be done in Heaven to prepare for the coming days. So maybe Jesus is calling now on Lyle's resourcefulness. He made a log splitter for only eleven dollars, because that is how much the hose he needed cost. They had everything else on hand.
Lyle darned his socks and a few grandkids' socks, too. Dad Lewis taught me crochet's beginnings, as he made chains. This generation didn't have much, but they earned everything they had. They also shared what they had and were generous with materials and wisdom and love.
Tears spring to my eyes. I cry for Dad Lyon and the loss of a generation. They seemed to touch the past more than we have. They lived with no electricity. Lyle talked of when horse and buggy outnumbered automobiles in Emporium. Outhouses more common than indoor plumbing. Gardens supplemented the table and a family member slaughtered a cow or pig for meat. Chickens beheaded for Sunday dinner.
They could tell the seasons to come by observing the trees, caterpillars and birds. They could feel immediate changes in the weather and prepare for that. They also showed no fear. I can't believe we didn't mention John Wayne, Dad Lyon loved his movies. I saw a quote by John Wayne today when shopping that summarizes this generation, Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.
Good bye to one more of the greatest, generous, gutsy generation.