Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas, Papaw!

This reflection about my Papaw Fowler is one that I quite literally stumbled upon when I was rearranging things in my office at UWA this week. I have not had time to write like I should this week, but this piece from a 10-year-old paper journal leaped into my consciousness and would not let go so I write it here to share with the world.

As I sit in room 321 of Redmond Regional Hospital on a cold January night, I see the wisdom that the composer of the Compline service in the Book of Common Prayer had.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

How important it is to pray for those who work or watch or weep each night. I see that God’s hand is around me in this place making people well for this life and for others pointing the way to heaven. This prayer would comfort so many who are not even Episcopalian. I should give it to the nurses I know.

For 32 years, I have had the unadulterated joy of knowing my Papaw Fowler. This is a man who grew up poorer than I can even imagine and then, as a young man, traveled to the Pacific Theater of war to defend his country as a United States Marine. Upon returning, he married his childhood sweetheart, Katherine, and they contributed to the Baby Boom of the late 1940s and early fifties by having four children--three boys and a girl.
Now only his youngest and oldest child remain. Tragedies have taken the two middle boys, but nothing has taken Papaw’s spirit. He sees everything optimistically; his glass is always half full and getting fuller. He took to heart the verse about my cup runneth over. (Psalm 23:5)

He is there to encourage and support and to love and listen. He took me on great adventures when I was a child--to the Duck Pond to feed the ducks, to Krystal’s playground to play, to McDonald’s for french fries, and to the local parks to explore. He let me play with his flat pencils and bendable rulers and didn’t mind if I ate the Little Debbies that were really for his lunch pail. He smiled and laughed and lived a life of joy. Many people that I know who are much younger and most certainly much healthier cannot seem to find the joy in life that Papaw has.
His faith is rock solid. It should be as it has seen him through the Great Depression, World War II, and a sometimes hard life. He has that solid foundation that having a personal relationship with God engenders. He always says he doesn’t really think about the prayers he prays oh so eloquently; instead he just closes his eyes and talks to God.

He is remarkable this man. He has so many gifts that he so willingly shares with others. He has a great sense of humor and loves to tease everyone from his wife to his kids to his grandkids. He sings without knowing how to read music in a powerful baritone that resonates with love and praise for the Lord. And even at 78, his eyes still light up like a child’s at Christmas time.

God, bless and keep Papaw. Please make sure that the Cursillo angels line the path into heaven upon his arrival and sing "Sons of God” loud and proud for him when he gets there--and I have no doubt he will get there. Even though he hasn’t been to Cursillo, that will be the perfect way to usher him into heaven, for he loves a party and I think there is no better way to enter into heaven than on the notes of that song of joy.

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