It’s Been Three Months
By the Reverend Dr. Fran Shelton
The fluidity of time and its tortoise-like qualities seemed overly exaggerated last month. If all of May’s activities and accomplishments were a grocery list, I would need to float a loan in order to check out. Yet when I stare at those 31 squares on the calendar, I realize that it really has only been three months since Bob died. Emotionally and physically, however, it seems much longer.
On Saturday, the 19th, I set my alarm so that I could tune in to watch Meagan and Prince Harry exchange their marriage vows. Of course, at all weddings, my heart overflows with memories of our marriage on November 26, 1994. We were overjoyed that Dr. George Heyer, our dear friend (Bob’s colleague and my professor), and bridge buddy was willing to cut short a trip abroad in order to officiate. As I watched the couple exchange the poised and flirtatious smiles, I remembered Bob’s smile that seemed to beam just for me. And I trust that if Bob were still alive and could have the gift of speech, together we would have celebrated the meaningful and timely content and spirit-filled delivery of the Most Reverend Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding. We would have wished that we could have preached that message!
Later that morning, our children, Tammy and Jim, and our granddaughter, Natalie, helped me begin to go through Bob’s personal belongings—year’s of leather-bound date books and greetings cards, clothes including his Maryville College sport’s sweater and dozens of wild and crazy socks from the staff of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas on the occasion of his last retirement serving there, and dozens upon dozens of index cards with scratches of prayers he wrote and quotes he treasured.
For several reasons, I have kept all the index cards. They reveal portions of his theology and love of God, his authentic and artful crafting of prayers, and I get to see his handwriting, a skill he lost in the plaque and mire of Alzheimer’s. One Thomas Merton quote:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all I am doing. …Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
And finally, his prayer in the form of a toast at the wedding reception for our daughter, Naomi Kathryn, to Robert Ford:
May your love for each other deepen and expand;
May your respect for each other become richer and broader;
May your understanding of the other increase and bring you happiness;
May your lives become so inextricably intertwined that that you will come to
understand yourselves better as individuals;
May your hugs be frequent and tight;
May the bountiful blessing of the Loving God rest upon you this day,
and throughout all your days in the years to come.
Raise your glasses to Omi and Robert. January 19, 2008
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