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Saturday, December 15, 2007

View from Poppa's Window

This morning before breakfast I was reading a book in my father-in-law's recliner, waiting for breakfast. Yesterday and last night the weather was pretty awful--cold, rainy, foggy, and did I mention cold? Well, as is usual and customary for Texas weather, this morning was clear and sunny with brisk winds from the north. It was still cold. Taking a break from the book, I noticed again for the hundredth time how great the view is from the front window just to the left of the chair. I thought how fantastic it was for Roland to have this wonderful ranch view to see and cherish for the last years of his life.

My father-in-law was a vigorous and hard-working man throughout his life. When he moved back to the ranch of his childhood, after serving as minister for several churches around the central United States, including the church in New Orleans where he married Jan and me some 35 years ago, he worked harder in his seventies than most people would to make the ranch he loved a beautiful and functional place to live and raise goats. He built fences, drove his trusty tractor, and helped Kathy and Richard renovate a house on the place so they could raise a family and run the day-to-day activities of a working goat ranch. He was a great woodworker, as well as a great rancher, and built shelves, footstools, and many other wonderful pieces for his children and grand-children.

In his later years though, he had to slow down. His strength began to wane, and his voice, once strong and powerful at the pulpit, became hoarse and weak after his fight with skin cancer and radiation treatments to his face and neck. As he became less and less able to get out, he spent longer and longer periods reading books and the Bible. He never really complained that I ever heard, but I know it was a hardship for him to sit by and watch others do what he so loved doing when he retired. Even his garden, where he grew some of the most beautiful and tasty vegetables I have ever eaten, became a grassy field in the lot behind the main house. But he enjoyed reading, and visiting with anyone who came by to see the family, and he still "presided" over the Sunday lunches that were a long tradition in his family. And of course, he had the view out of his front window to watch the weather and the seasons change, and to think about his life and the lives of his loved ones.

This will be the second Christmas since Roland passed away, and there is still a void in our Christmas festivities. Probably there always will be. I believe that Christmas was Roland's favorite time of the year, because his children and grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, would gather at the ranch and enjoy the season with him and his lovely wife Julia. I can't remember seeing him happier than at this time of year, and I'll miss his great smile and firm handshake for a long, long time.

Well, that was what I was thinking about as I stared out that window this morning, and I am sharing with you. My wish for you is that you are able to spend these days with those you love, and cherish the time you spend with them.

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