We met with Tammy Greene at 9:00 Monday morning. This was going to be a long day. Turning in the pictures and daddy's honorable discharge papers at 9:00, a private viewing at 3:00, and receiving friends at 6:00. The day was going by quickly. I'm thankful to the Lord for that.
The next hurdle for me was the private viewing. Seeing my daddy for the first time in his pretty peach shirt and tie. His cream colored blazer. And his casket.
I was pensive on the ride there. The voices of my children in the back seat of the car was like a trumpet blaring in my ears. I wanted them to be quiet. But I knew their spirits were just as low as mine and they were probably feeling a little bit of what I was feeling too.
We entered the funeral home and I knew daddy was just beyond a set of doors in the parlor just a few feet away. Part of me wanted to run to him. The other knew I needed to wait on mom and daddy's sister, Janice. So we waited. For the first time in days the time had slowed to an unbearable pace. It seemed as though they would never get there. But they did. And we all went in together. Mom leading the way through tears.
Aunt Janice is from out of town. The last time she saw daddy was a few months back. She wasn't prepared to see him like this. Her sobs rang out and she fell to the floor. Bruce and I tried to keep her from falling backwards, but allowed her to get it out until she was ready to stand back up.
When she did stand up we stood over daddy and he looked as peaceful and rested as he did on Thursday when we saw him at the hospital. His peach shirt and tie and his cream colored blazer looked so nice on him. He was just as handsome this day as he was on Easter Sunday.
They took daddy from the private viewing to the church for the receiving of friends. He would have wanted to be in his church. He loved his church. He loved working with his fifth and sixth grade boy's Sunday school class. He loved playing his trumpet in the orchestra. He loved preaching for the Cottage Prayer Meeting. He was happy serving the Lord! And he was happy serving at Faith!
I thought it would be difficult for me to get through the night. Three and a half hours, of shaking hands, hugging, talking, and awkward silences. But as I told many people, God was pouring out his grace by the buckets. It was good shaking hands and hugging those that came out to pay their respects to one of the greatest, sweetest, and godliest men I knew. Hearing funny stories and the nice things that were said about him was very comforting. As for the awkward silences, I don't remember any.
When it was all said and done, a few of the grandchildren had a burst of tears. It was very hard on them emotionally, as it was for all of us.
We stood in the foyer and watched the picture DVD of daddy. We smiled and laughed through tears and then it was finally time to go home.
The ride home was somber. I just kept taking in deep breaths. The pain my heart was experiencing was almost more than I could bear.
I wanted to go home. I needed my time alone with God again. That time has been precious. It has never been as precious to me in the past as it has been within the recent days. I suppose it is because He has made Himself so real and so evident to me. He knew me much more than I knew Him. He knew exactly what I needed during those minutes and hours of desperation, when even I, myself, had no idea what I needed. He saw to it that I would receive all the strength and mercy from Him that His hands could possibly give.
And so after my time with him, I would listen to "my song." He Gives Grace. Yes, He gives grace. And He has given it in abundance!