Essay

Legacy #7, Tombstones

By July 12, 2015 One Comment
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By Helen Luhrs

When my mom died this winter, I realized the generation of my parents was gone. What I learned from them about faith and life was now mine to practice and pass on. To help me remember what I learned and treasure what nuggets of truth I want to share, these Summer Sundays are dedicated to Henry and Edith Blankespoor, my parents.

There is a time for everything…
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Our family farm is littered with tombstones.

I loved cats and we had several family dogs. Between farm machinery and a busy blacktop road, life expectancy was short for family pets. An emotional child, I often had a complete meltdown when a favorite pet died unexpectedly.

One thing Dad was sure of when he comforted me was that I loved my little sister and brother even more. His favorite line was, “Now, Helen, it could have been Ruth or Harv.” He didn’t discount my grief or tell me to stop talking about Snow White or Sparky, but he did help me put the situation in perspective. He also helped me bury my pet and lay one more stone under one more tree.

He had a way, however, of bringing eternity to the foreground. I tended to worry about dead pets, rain on picnic days, and friends who looked at me cross-eyed. Dad liked to remind me about a time to grieve and a time not to grieve and the shortness of our time on earth.

And years later, when the unexpected death was my sister, Ruth, his heart broke. Then it was his time to grieve and he did not hide his anguish. But he kept eternity in the foreground.

I learned that “rejoice always” does not mean accept everything and be happy, but it does mean “be thankful for what you have in the Lord.” I have to keep reminding myself of this when I distress over rabbits eating my carrots, the dent on my car, the cake that flopped, the airline tickets that went down two days after my purchase. “Could have been Ruth or Harv” comes back to me as do the children in Syria, women in Africa, Christians in countries all over the world. And I remember to grieve openly when my heart breaks and I know God is grieving with me.

Dear God, thank you for your presence in times of weeping and times of laughing. Help us remember that this life is the not the end. Someday we will dance in heaven, a time of joy.
Amen.

An Iowa woman to the core, Helen Luhrs is a high school teacher who lives out in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, five grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.

Helen Luhrs

An Iowa woman to the core, Helen Luhrs is a recently retired high school teacher who lives in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, six grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.

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