“The Lord bless you and keep you;
“the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
“the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26.)
Monday morning, my dad passed away, peacefully. He had been slipping in and out of awareness since Thursday and under the care of hospice since Saturday. He was, as my mother said, “More than ready to go home.”
Rebekah came out to his assisted living home with me. We talked, we gave him reassurances and we played his favorite hymns. The last was from a London Emmanuel Choir anthology, circa 1970, and dad’s voice is in there among the tenors — “Wonderful Worlds of Life”:
“Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life,
“Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
“Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty.
“Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
“Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.” (Philip Bliss.)
Dad’s breathing became more shallow, more labored, with extended time between each halting breath. We were holding his hand when Rebekah leaned in: “The Lord bless you and keep you,” she said, “the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
And in that moment, dad slipped away — gently and peacefully; carried seamlessly, so it appeared, resting in those wonderful words of life. Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
I was composed until I took mum in there to see him. She bent down to kiss him, gently, on the forehead. Then she asked me to pray. “Thank you, Lord,” I said in a broken whisper, “for the gift that was dad’s long and beautiful life. Please bless him with your peace and your presence and your assurance that all is well; bless him with your grace and your light and your mercy and your love, now and forever — Amen.”
I am writing these words in love, and because love conquers all. — DEREK.