We are still in Williamsburg this evening and the celebration of life services are over for Nancy and John, Janet’s parents. It has been a difficult summer and the realities of the void that is being left in all of our lives is finally just beginning to set in – it hasn’t, and won’t, really become fully evident yet – I’m sure that won’t happen for several months at least – probably sometime around the holidays when we acknowledge their absence at Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthday celebrations and other events that families share together.
John was the last of his generation in this family to pass away. As you already know, Nancy passed away the day after Janet’s and my 40th anniversary on August 24th – and my parents died many years ago. But the death of my in-laws has caused me to re-live the passing of my own parents. In fact, the truth be told, I have thought more about my Dad the last several days than I have in quite some time.
Today, Janet and her sisters started the arduous process of making sure that their father’s residence at Williamsburg Landing was vacated and the meetings with family advisors have started in preparation for the process of assembling the necessary things for both estates. That left me on my own – I just didn’t think it was my place to be around and I wanted the sisters to have their own space together. So I ran errands throughout the afternoon after a trip to the airport in Newport News, VA to drop off a family member for a flight home.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but while I was on my way to one particular errand, I happened to drive down a street that seemed vaguely familiar. I haven’t driven down that street in years and yet I couldn’t shake the idea that I have been there before. As I rounded a corner, I just couldn’t fight the urge to go back and re-trace my steps. Sure enough, there in front of me was the motel that Dad brought the family to on our first visit to Williamsburg in 1964. I couldn’t believe it! In fact, I was stunned. I actually remembered what rooms we stayed in, the swimming pool in front of the place and many other features of the inn. I went into the office and asked if I could see a room. Sure enough, the desk clerk escorted me to what I believe was the very room Dad booked for us almost 50 years ago.
One of the things that I remember was how tight a budget the family was on. It was terribly difficult for us to travel in those days and we almost never went anywhere that Dad didn’t have business to conduct. On this particular trip, our father had to meet the owner of a wood mill that he dealt with in Newport News. I clearly remember having breakfast with the family at the pancake house next door to the inn and how Dad was worried about how he would be able to afford our meals, let alone the trip with all of us. I also remember that on the way to Williamsburg we had two flat tires in the first 100 miles of driving from Chicago to the east. Dad was beside himself with worry about money.
We had a great time in Williamsburg but we did it on a really tight budget. And today, the memories came flooding back to me from my childhood when Dad took us on our first trip here. It was a highly introspective day to say the least – remembering Janet’s and my parents and how that season of life is over. I even asked our son Andrew to go back to the inn with me. I told him the story as I remember it and we took several photos. How strange it seemed to be standing there with my own son, at the very place I stood as the little boy when I was 11!
The verse for tonight is a simple one from the Proverbs. We are told, in Proverbs 10:7, “The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” My encouragement this evening is that you also can derive comfort from the memories of loved ones – whether it is from your childhood or at other times in your life. My prayer is that you will also be remembered for all the great things you did for your family when you finally are taken “home.” Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…