Thursday, October 06, 2016

Treasure the Moments

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. 


December 1963
Every autumn, every year, my heart remembers a time of personal and spiritual growth. After a brain tumor surgery, my grandmother retains her abilities to comprehend situations, but can no longer verbally express herself. Recalling the summer of 1974 finds me thankful for these last months of sharing, both through tears and gestures, but always laughter was louder. Reflections of my paternal grandmother's last stage of living always bring to mind an unusual demonstration of friendship. Her friend remains faceless to me. She's just a name that I heard from time to time over the years. And, just as mysteriously, for nearly 5 months, a red rose arrived each day.


A Remnant of Love

Once long, long ago, who knows just when,
            greetings were exchanged.
Neighbors for a while, some say, these two
            strangers became friends.
Conversations of yester-year gone
            and unrecorded,
How I wish I could go back in time
            to find the secret
Of such enduring friendship, a gift
            of the heart for life . . .

Sunny skies and death, together, cast down
            shadows on my soul.
Precious as gold, time seemed all too short;
            she would soon be gone.
Silent tears of helplessness inside;
            laughter was louder.
Old stories retold became treasures,
            priceless memories.

Although miles and miles apart, friendship
            did not notice, and
Always, a token of remembrance
            was placed by her side.
Gentle reminder, gesture of love,
            each day one red rose.
Only once did she speak to me of
            death, my constant thought.
Relentless, calloused foe of mortal
            life took her last breath . . .

Her body lay empty beneath a
            blanket of roses.
I stood beside her grave in sorrow
            for my loss; I wept.
I remember taking one red rose,
            a final farewell.
For me it was a symbol of her
            friend’s tender heart,
Of such enduring friendship, a gift,
            a remnant of love.

Although more than a decade has passed,
             I still think of her.
Those priceless memories come to mind
            as if time stood still.
Each year when autumn breezes whisper,
            tears seek revival.
Beneath the sadness I remember
            laughter was louder.

And my heart is blessed as I recall
            her final months, when
Always, a token of remembrance
            was placed by her side.
Gentle reminder, gesture of love,
            each day one red rose.
How I wish I could go back in time
            to find the secret
Of their enduring friendship, a gift 
of the heart for life.
(written 1987, Donna Oswalt)

I wrote this poem more than a decade after her death, words eluding my emotions until then. And still, when I think of such friendship, the best definition I can think of is "each day one red rose." What an amazing heart-gift! What a demonstration of love and loyalty! The Life Application Study Bible says, "The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty." Over nearly four decades later, I have learned this kind of friendship is extremely rare.

God never asks us to do something without having demonstrated it Himself. Jesus tells us to love one another and demonstrates this rare kind of love with His life, death and resurrection. By definition loyalty manifests itself by devotion, honesty, sincerity, and support. God models His loyalty to us though His constancy, incorruptibility, steadfastness, and truth. Genuine relationships understand the value of sharing life events; to remember the beginnings, to treasure the laughter, to honor the celebrations, to bear the disappointments, to experience the ordinary, and to love through the endings. God promises to love forever! 

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT) God's love is much more than a token of remembrance or a gesture of love. Christ's unmatched sacrifice becomes God's matchless grace. This holy gift of enduring friendship redefines loyalty's unfailing love as Perfect Love. I have learned this friendship is the rarest of all! ~ dho