Papa is dying… A great spirit is returning home. A wise man, at 93, is surrendering the body. He leaves us with the gifts of his strength of character, of purpose, of conviction. His was a steady hand through the storms of life. His was a pattern of spiritual fortitude and principles no matter the cultural values to the contrary.
With so much trauma and drama bandied about, my Dad sat steady, walked firmly and kindly through the world because it was his to do. And this steadfastness of spirit is the legacy he bequeaths us.
A Steady Hand
I am remembering his literal steady hand, his physical strength. It happened when he was perhaps 85 years-old (I was about 60 years-old) and we were getting ourselves perched on his riding lawn mower—he in the seat and me standing alongside. As the mower lurched forward, I lost my balance. Quicker than I could catch myself, a strong arm grabbed me around the waist, steadying me back onto the mower. I was quietly stunned. He was so strong and so quick! At 85, my dad had the wits and strength to protect me. And I realized that in some way or other he had my back. With a mutual chuckle, off we drove toward the orchard and the tomato garden.
I felt the strength of his arm, his firm touch for weeks afterward, resting into some kind of visceral knowing that my dad was there for me. It was a small incident of marvelous proportions. It was during the time we were learning how to love and accept each other and before I recognized the greatness of his soul.
A year or two later he moved from Colorado to Washington state and his spirit expanded to meet the challenge of a new setting and a new way of life. He softened, joked, accepted us all more deeply and continued to be amazed by nature and life itself. He sat steady. He loved. He was kind to all. He inspired us to be better people just by being in his presence.
River of Life
So in this tender place, as he is dying, it seems he is living more fully than he ever did. Though his life force is fading, like an old cottonwood tree with seeds and saplings taking root everywhere, he is stepping aside so the young growth below him can feel the sun. And like that old tree, he continues to live on in all his progeny—simply because we have seen the treasure he fostered and embraced it. This sort of love never goes extinct. It carries on, spreads and flows on the unending river of Life. And many who never knew Papa will drink from that river and be the better for it.
(In honor of Harry Froese, September 26, 1921-June 2, 2015)
—Marcia Froese Beachy