The Last of These

All my father’s friends are dying.

As is nature’s way, clumps of two or

three at a time hearing the river call

their name, and they must answer.

Because these men loved my father

in this life, they left the wish that he

be the one to stand above and say

Let not your hearts be troubled

even as his is breaking once again.

Then, when the time comes, that his

be the parting gesture, that he unpin

his boutonniere and add it to the

wreath of others atop his friends as

they lower slowly into the final night.

All my father’s friends are dying.

He is becoming the last of these.


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  1. Karin Fendick on January 15, 2020 at 6:29 am

    my own father struggled long
    with the same
    living without Jesus
    my only words of comfort
    “you have 2 options
    watch them leave
    or go first”
    that, at least, brought a smile

  2. John A Ray on January 15, 2020 at 7:06 am

    Oh my

  3. Deanne Moore on January 15, 2020 at 7:30 am

    As my father’s friends die, one after another, my dad sits shaking his head like he can’t believe it. Then he pops another chemo cocktail down the hatch.

  4. Gretchen on January 15, 2020 at 8:36 am

    Isn’t it funny how death becomes normal?

  5. Ruth Ann Jacobs on January 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    So true. About the only time I see your dad and mom is when I am playing for a funeral that he’s conducting. It’s our age!

  6. Sarah Sansbury on January 15, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Yes, what a season to go through. Movingly and beautifully written John. Thank you!

  7. Sally Bowen on January 15, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Tomorrow I turn 75, I have lost a lot of my friends as your father has lost his. I decided to rejoice that l have lived this long and am looking forward to a few more years. I enjoy your posts. ❤️ to you and the family. Sally

    • Jocelyn on January 16, 2020 at 10:07 am

      In 2015, my dad died at 89 yo. He joined the US Navy toward the end of WWII and had brought his young wife and three small children to the US in the early 1950s. Many of his compadres shared similar beginnings. A young community of Filipinos came together in mutual support and friendship as they raised their families in a new land, yet missing their close relatives left behind in the Philippines. During the last five years, many of us reunited — not at weddings or holidays, but at the funerals of our fathers (and mothers) who died in their late 80s or early 90s. The few who are still living are approaching 95 yo. At 66 yo myself, I hope to live fully in whatever years are given me, albeit different not having lived in continuous community with others which our parents had done in their 20s and right into their golden years. “Let not our hearts be troubled indeed” indeed. Your father must’ve been a great encourager to others as you are to us. Thank you.

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