It hangs on the wall just over the left edge of the fireplace mantle. Written, typed by my grandfather Eric on the occasion of his 40th birthday, when aware of his age, he had death on his mind. That was 86 years ago, and he died 48 years later when I was twenty years of age. The Psalmist reflects on the passing of time and life’s fleeting moment: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” (Ps 90:10, NLT).
Maybe it’s the snow, and how it quiets the urban world. Maybe it’s my newest round of sciatic pain a-flaring. Maybe it’s the latest rounds of toils and troubles. How about an upcoming doctor appointment that causes anxiety? For sure its more losses of more friends along with significant birthdays beginning with 6. For all kinds of reasons, I have death n my mind, death someday. And though it seems morbid, it seems good to consider that someday, sooner or later, I will experience death. You will too. The Psalmist continues: “So teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (v.12).
It seems that somehow getting in touch with the reality of death can help us treasure our days and not take them for granted. To live them with vigor and purpose. That’s wisdom. Most especially, according to our faith, resurrection’s promise looms on the other side of all that we know. Faith in the grace of God will carry us there, wherever God’s never-ending glory lingers. So much to be grateful for!
And that’s where grandpa Eric’s spirit lingers. Here are the words in case you can’t read them. Rest with faith in them:
WHEN I AM GONE
I want no pomp, I want no state,
I want no colorful debate
of what I was, or could have been;
Just take me out and tuck me in,
In Mother Earth beneath the sky.
‘Twas good to live, but good to die,
Just leave me, in the wind and rain,
With flowers that bloom and fade again,
‘Neath winter’s snow and April shower,
In calm repose ’til waking hour,
Just tuck me ‘neath the sod
With friendly hand, but speak of God.
Eric G. Hawkinson — Chicago, 1936