Thanks Giving Mourning

The road to Recovery, my parent’s community in south Georgia,  was beautiful. Joy and I have hopped, skipped and jumped across our gorgeous state since Friday afternoon. We visited Norcross, Warner Robins, Ashburn, Cairo and then traveled to my parents home in Recovery. Shadows draped across us as we meandered our way in Glory’s fun ride, soaking in south Georgia sunshine and the smell of peanuts and soil.

I count my blessings every day, but Thanksgiving is always a time of greater appreciation, deeper gratitude and richer thankfulness.

I knew this Thanksgiving would be special. Today, Thanksgiving day, and we celebrate my dad’s 75th birthday. For several years now, cancer has been in the frame of our vision. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer and treated. He had a re-occurrence, but has been cancer free for some time now.  So, this year, we are thankful for life, family and my father … more than before.

I am grateful for a welcome place to visit my folks. I am thankful for their community – small but dense with wonderful people whom they love and serve with eagerness and zeal.

I am thankful for a chance to visit my brother and his family, his wife so kind … and  his boys, the spitting-image of their daddy at that age, are sweet and kind but boys through-and-through.

As Joy and I drove into the drive yesterday, I knew things weren’t well. You could see the sadness scrawled upon my father’s face. I knew there was mourning, but was …. shocked at the source. Being a Fireman and a First Responder, dad comes in contact with difficult situations often.

This house
is draped with sadness
and we mourn with them.

When we still lived in Atlanta, we began an adventure with the Rodgers – an excursion in friendship. Dad and Russ worked together. Russ invited us to camp with his family. In 1974, in June, we took our first trip to St. George Island, Florida. Back home, in a box, I have a single photograph, square and faded, scratched and cloudy, of Rusty and Robin standing on the beach, the two oldest boys in the family. That was the only photo that I took that day. Even then, I had a camera.

The three Rodgers boys were spaced around my brother and I in age … but I was the lone girl in the group. Soon, we moved south to Thomasville, leaving the bustle of Atlanta behind. We camped through the years … dozens of times …  spring, summer and fall …. year after year …. with a large crowd or just the two families. We fellowshiped, fished and dined.

The same year I married, Mom and Dad bought their little place in Recovery. The Rodgers bought the empty lot next door, built a log cabin and moved in. Dad retired, mom and dad remodeled their cottage into a sprawling home and they left Thomasville to make Recovery, beside the Rodgers,  home.  All of us grew …. children offered grandchildren and we continued to grow in friendship.

Last night, as I drove up, I was met with the news that the oldest of the Rodgers boys
had lost his life suddenly to a heart attack.
Shock settled in.

Rusty had some health struggles, but nothing that would have led us to believe that
this Thanksgiving
we would find ourselves
in mourning.

I knew I would write about my father today.
I knew I would arrive in Recovery and take sunsetting-photographs.
I knew we would have an emotional Thanksgiving.

But, I didn’t know what today would look like.

And so I write
and celebrate my Father’s life
and mourn the loss of a friend’s
and we turn our faces to our Heavenly Father and have to trust
that even in this,
He is in control.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:7

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