Abides with Us

“He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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At 12.30am CST in his home in Wood River, Madison, Illinois, James Fred Tucker rejoined his beloved wife Glenda in his new heavenly home a mere one month, four days and almost to the minute after she went on before.

Gone but not forgotten, grieved but celebrated, he has now gone on to his heavenly reward and for a surely beautiful reunion with his wife.

I will deeply miss him. I love you Poppie!

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Actions versus Words

Why is it that my greatest writing occurs in the moments of my greatest reflection? Whether it be the death of a grandparent or the surgeries of my daughter, these moments usually result in a time where everything gets quiet and my thoughts tend to turn inward as I reflect on the circumstances around me and how they impact my life and the lives of those around me.

Just a few moments ago I received a phone call that I wasn’t shocked to receive (although it came a little sooner than I expected). It has barely been a month since we said goodbye to my grandmother and now my grandfather has hours, perhaps days, left with us on this earth. He will soon be leaving us and be reunited with his wife of 61 years. While part of me celebrates with him in the joy he will soon be experiencing with his new life in heaven at the feet of our Lord and Savior with his beloved wife by his side; the other part of me grieves for the loss I will experience.

After I returned home to Jacksonville following my grandmother’s funeral, I felt a little lost and that part of me was missing. As the month has passed that hole has turned into a peace knowing where she is, once again in perfect health again; yet still missing the woman who has always had a large roll in my life. Now I know that I am facing this once again, painfully too soon.

My beloved grandfather will shortly depart from the earthly place to enter into heavenly perfection.

James Fred Tucker is the first son, fourth child of eight, born to Fred Hardy and Rosa Lee Wilkins Tucker in Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas on 3 Jan 1921. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War 2 after which he moved to Wood River IL to meet his pen pal a Ms. Glenda Marie Worthy. Their wartime correspondence quickly turned into courtship and then marriage. From their union resulted in the birth of two sons, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Their love and sense of family is now being passed onto a fourth generation.

Grandpa is probably the quietest man I have known in my life. Yet in his actions you know he is a man of great feeling. He loves his wife, his two sons, and all of his grandchildren. When he met his great-granddaughter I think that heart of his grew another size as his love grew once again for that new little baby he held in his arms. When we were up in Wood River in May, my precocious 18 month old slowly worked her way out of the living room and into the kitchen where grandpa was eating, my dad was in the kitchen too so I didn’t bother following. Dad called me into the room a few minutes later. I walked in to discover that he just couldn’t resist picking up that little girl of his, despite his weakened condition. Natalie was as happy as could be to be on her Poppie’s lap. I wish I could have caught that moment on camera, but the visualization will stay with me forever.

Seeing my grandfather with my daughter shows me how he must have been with the rest of us when we were small and how he must have been with his sons. He shows his love through his actions rather than words, this is what I will remember most.

In times such as this people always ask, what is your favorite memory? what is the most valuable thing that he taught you? For me the answer is as simple the game he taught me. My grandpa taught me to play checkers and I remember that just like it was yesterday.

I feel as if my thoughts are random and jumbled. I wonder if I even make much sense at this moment, but I want my point to be this…James Fred Tucker is a man of actions more than words. He is a quiet man who loves deeply. He is a gentle man and a Godly man. The world will be a little less rich and full when he is gone.

I love you Poppie!

Moments of Reflection

Needless to say, the month of May was a very difficult one for my entire family. My parents spend 5 weeks in the St Louis area with my grandparents as my grandmother quickly deteriorated (the longest continual length of time they have spent in that area since they moved us to Florida in the late 1980s). My brother has been serving as the caretaker for my grandparents since January (he was supposed to return to Florida at the end of January). I flew back and forth to St Louis twice with a toddler and had to deal with the stress of my daughter being out of her routine and facing the realization I was going to lose a woman I loved dearly.

It is now the beginning of June and I have now been back home in Jacksonville for a week. My grandparents have not been far from my thoughts. I feel a void inside me knowing that my beloved grandmother is now at the feet of Jesus and concern for my grandfather who was left behind.

I spoke at length with my father last night regarding grandpa. Dad assured me that he is hanging in there as well as can be expected when you lose your other half of 61 years. He is currently suffering from congestive heart failure and we know it will not be long before he joins his beloved wife on the other side. However, despite of both the emotional and physical heartache grandpa seems to be okay. He has his faculties about it, can recall the memories of his youth at a moments notice (usually upon my inquiry), the fluid he had accumulated at the time of the funeral is now gone and he is not in any physical pain. He doesnt appear to have given up on life quite yet, I know that part of him is ready to go, but it seems the that his other half is not quite ready to go. I am glad that he has not given up on life, I dont want him to simply waste away because he has given up. I would rather his last days on this earth be full of the joy and happiness he brings to all of us and that when its his time to go, he simply goes to sleep with his mind and memories still about him.

The week of the funeral was difficult on all of us but it also provided me the pleasure of seeing my aunt, uncle, and cousins that I had not seen in eleven years. Its hard to believe but my little cousins are now all grown up at 18 and 16 and I was shocked to discover just how alike my uncle and my dad really are (there is no denying that they are brothers).

The funeral was a grueling 3-day funeral due to the fact that last Monday was Memorial Day. The viewing was Sunday afternoon, the service on Monday morning, but the burial could not be held until Tuesday (the cemetery was closed on Memorial Day). It was a beautiful service and I learned so much about my grandmothers testimony that I never realized. I also finally understood the facts about my grandparents courtship and subsequent marriage. Such a beautiful story that I will share in a future post.

I met my Uncle Troy (grandpa’s brother) and his son Robert for the first time. I also met my 2nd cousin Polly (the daughter of one of grandpa’s sisters) who had given me advice on which parts of Jacksonville I should consider living right before she moved here. She told me that she is considering a move back down here. I would love it if she chooses to come down this way, I would love to get to know her better.

The only drawback of the entire trip was that Thomas was unable to make the trip with me due to the last minute notice (I believe deaths usually are unexpected and difficult to plan when you have to travel). He is self-employed and its hard to reschedule some of his jobs. Therefore, I flew halfway across the country, by myself, with a toddler. Oh what an experience that was. Natalie did fairly well but it was still difficult. I am amazed at all of the goodhearted people out there who came out of nowhere to give me a hand at the various stages of my flights. God was truly working through these individuals and I feel truly indebted to them for their assistance.

Now its time for a meeting so I guess I will have to continue my thoughts later 🙂