Saturday, March 26, 2011

Our Weekend in Heaven

A friend of mine posted a video on facebook yesterday.

I saw it and watched it this morning with my cup of coffee.

It was a country music song called “If heaven weren’t so far away”. In it – the singer talks about how he would pack up his family for a day and go visit all the people he cared about that passed away.

What a powerful thought, eh…?

If you could just pile up the family in a car and go visit heaven?

Needless to say, we all have our list of people we would go see.

Imagine … contrary to John Lennon’s song … that heaven was within driving distance.

Who would you go visit?

I would introduce my lovely wife Darlene and my two little girls to my Dad. We would pick up my Mom in Pensacola along the way.

We would find Dad sitting in the cockpit of his sail boat – likely a 30 foot Coronado or a C&C. Dad would be reading a book by Neville Shute as we approached, and he would sit the book down and come out onto the dock to greet us with hugs. And I would introduce him to my family. We would tell him about all that has happened to us since he passed – my Mom sitting by his side and hugging him with all she has to hug with.

He would tell us that it was too bad we just missed my Brother Paul and his family – who just left for the drive back to Baton Rouge.

We would probably go to a ball diamond. And have a little infield practice. Dad would teach the girls to charge a ground ball to take it on the short hop, to step through a throw. And he would spend hours with them working on their batting stances while Mom (who is now eighty) would lob pitches to them from the mound. This activity would end when Dad finally had both girls consistently hitting line drives over the short stop and second basemen.

We would return back to the boat, where Dad and I and Darlene would get out the sails and set the riggings. We would cast off the dock and set sail across the waters of heaven to the spot on a remote beach where my Uncle Fred and Aunt Sheila had set up a campsite – my grandfather Papa would be sitting on a lawn chair whittling and enjoying a small plug of chewing tobacco.

And I would re-introduce my family to Papa and ask Uncle Fred and Aunt Sheila if they remembered Alannah and Ashley-Rae.

And Papa would regale us all with his stories of being a young man and his adventures in the 1920s working in Detroit.

And suddenly, my Grandmother would appear out of a tent from a nap – and I would run to her and hug and ask her if she knew who I was?

Why yes” , she would say with a faint Irish lilt in her voice, “you’re little Freddy! I haven’t seen you since you were nine years old”.

And we would sit there around the camp fire that Uncle Fred kept just at the perfect size – late into the night until the morning came. And we would never feel sleepy.

What a wonderful weekend it would be, sitting and talking and remembering. Laughing and joking. And Papa would be sitting over to the side with Alannah and Ashley-Rae explaining to them how important honesty and integrity are and to be the best person you can be.

I would ask so many questions that I have held to myself that I would have asked my Dad. Questions about how to better myself professionally, about what we should really be doing with our finances, about all of those things.

And everytime I would light a cigarette – my Dad would join me – and explain to me how stupid smoking is while I am still alive. He might even go so far as to say that being able to smoke again is the best part about heaven. I don’t know.

Keep smoking over there, it’ll kill yer yet”, would holler my Grandmother.

I’m already dead Ma”, would say my Dad.

But Freddy isn’t”, she would reply.

Dad would look at me as if to say, “she’s right ya know, this stuff will kill you. Look at me

And being the smart ass I am – I would reply “you like fine to me Dad!”. And I would light another.

Stupid asses”, my Uncle Fred would say.

The next morning we would all climb on Dad’s boat to sail back to his dock where we had parked the car. Along the way, my Mom would tell my Dad about the lovely July night in 1991 when we took Dad’s ashes to a beautiful point on Lake Huron and spread his ashes around the light tower by the water’s edge and the amazing outside steak and lobster benefit barbecue we came across in a small town church yard as we were leaving.

How perfect that was.

I know”, would say Dad. “I was with you”.

Imagine how much easier our lives would be to carry on after the loss of someone so dear to us left us behind for the wondrous life in heaven that would follow.

To know they are in fact okay. To let them know that we are okay.

To know what is in store for us after this life is truly worth the effort of living this life to the best of our abilities; to re-instill that dedication to try harder.

To know that they are not gone.

But in the end, as the song describes, the hardest part would be watching those you love in the rear view mirror waving so hard as you drive away.

But you would know that you would be back … someday … somehow.

And next weekend we would make plans to go and visit Darlene’s Grandparents.

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