Friday, February 3, 2012

Louis W. Engstrom (1921-2011)

Just a year ago today Daddy died.  I had just returned from Israel on a diocesan clergy pilgrimage and had gone to Florida to speak at the 10th annual Believe in a Miracle Conference.  After getting settled in to recover from jet lag, I had a wonderful conversation with Daddy and Mother.  Late that night Mother called to tell me that while Daddy was getting ready for bed, he just slumped over and was gone.  Apparently, a massive heart attack which was no surprise--he had multiple by-passes and had suffered with heart disease for 25 years.  I wanted to return to Laramie immediately, but with Daddy's advice to finish what you start resounding in my heart, I stayed in Florida to keynote the conference.  Good friends helped to support Mother, pick me up at the Denver airport and drive me through a raging blizzard when I was able to get back 2 days later.  It was a great honor and privilege to preside and preach at his burial a few days later on a typical Wyoming winter day--lots of snow, icy roads and a biting wind. 
     At his funeral Daddy's oldest granddaughter, Misty Dibble offered the following poem.

If I could have
Just one more cup of coffee po sanka, (Swedish for coffee in bed)
I would savor every sip.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye

If I could have
You watch my every step, as I mowed your precious lawn.
I would spend a little more time to make sure it was just your way.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye

If I could have
You teach me your master gardening skills
that produced the biggest cabbage ever in the eyes of your grandkids.
I would try to reproduce this skill in a garden of my own.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye

If I could have
Just one more day in the wood shop,
I would ask you to help me make something grand, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye

If I could have
One more trip to Star Valley with a Stomper in my hair with my grandpa and his pocket knife to the rescue.
I would listen very carefully to the golden lessons instilled.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye

If I could have just a little more time
I would stop by for a visit and a coke, I would ask you to tell me stories of your past.
I knew this day would come but that doesn’t change a thing I am still not ready to say goodbye.

We all miss this good, gentle and loving man so much.  In the year following his death, Mother has exhibited the most amazing grace and resilience in meeting so many challenges:  dealing with wills and death certificates, selling their home, moving from an apartment to her new home with me, 2 major surgeries and several lengthy hospital and nursing home stays.  She is a real heroine to me, just as Daddy was my first "super man."

In the book "Changes:  Prayers and Services Honoring Rites of Passage" there is the following prayer that has come to mean so much to me.
A year after a death

God of the living, you are the Way, the Truth and the Life: We have lived a year without Daddy, (___, whomever). Throughout that time of the turning earth, sun, and moon, you have shown us signs of your wonders: the Christmas star of Bethlehem, Easter’s empty tomb, and the tongues of Pentecost fire, which speak of your glory and goodness to all creation. We have counted days of sorrow, laughter, and endurance in our journey through grief’s stages. Now we can declare that even though we still feel bruised by the pain of our loss, life continues. You give us yourself in moments of grace, transforming us through your love. We thank you for the distance you have brought us during our year of healing, and ask you to help us become ever more whole in years to come. Keep Daddy, (___, whomever) present in our hearts, and may we honor his/her memory, embracing each new day with courage and faith; through Christ, in the Spirit, we pray. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment