It’s Not Goodbye, Just So Long

There are times that “goodbye’s” are hard…

We’ve all experienced them.

You get caught in a moment, and you cannot respond properly, so the moment becomes awkward…

I remember both moments when it hit me that my kids were grown and gone. My son leaving Alaska for college, and us meeting our daughter in Seattle after she had moved for a job. Maybe you know what I mean.

It’s that choking sob that cannot come out and sort of gets caught in the back of your throat.
It’s those tears that will not come because you know it will be impossible to turn them off.
It’s feeling like you’ve not said what you should say, and there is now not another moment…

I’m never good at goodbye’s…but when there is a hope that you will see one another again, sooner if not later, then the time of spending those final moments are filled with hope for the future and thus endurable.

I met Frank La Crosse back in 2001. I was passing through Washington and my daughter had found the church in Tacoma. “Dad, you would like him.” So, I met him, his bride, and the church. I was invited to preach, a moment of fellowship, and then I flew away to Alaska. Only to reconnect with him several times in the intervening years of a migration from Alaska to Washington. Then, when we planted our own church in Lacey, all of a sudden he’s retired and now attending our church. It’s been a great dozen years or so.

He always had a “thing” for my bride. “Is he treating you good?” or words to this effect always seemed to get the response I’m sure he enjoyed – a pleasured repartee to keep the conversation going… If I’ve heard him say it once, it may have been a hundred times or more, “Preach good!”

Frank La Crosse passed overnight. (January 31, 2017) Today (March 18, 2017), we will meet to say our public farewells and remember his time among us. Today, he turned 94.

This past year has been a tough slip into old age, but he would never complain in public. Even in the hospital last night, “How are you doing?” “I’m doing fine. Let’s go home.” And then within the hour he’s gone.

His step was not as lively,
but just yesterday he walked his kids to the door to tell them goodbye.
His voice was not as strong,
and he knew he would never again preach a message with the timbre of his youth.
His building days were done,
although I’m sure his mind was hungry for something to swing a hammer at.
But his last goodbye is done,
and I see him waiting yonder to greet us all home.

Of course he’s doing fine. He knew where he was going. Home. His ultimate destination.

So long, elder… Some day…