Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Perfect Ending

Those of us who deal regularly with obituaries have probably seen it all - unexpected deaths, long-expected deaths, deaths that occurred suddenly in the course of everyday of life, and deaths from infections in the pre-antibiotic era, reminding us of how many times it could have been us.  We've seen young deaths and old deaths; from natural causes to murder and suicide.  Some deaths are memorable, and many are not.  But the one death that has stayed in my mind is that of John Wesley Graves.

John and Nannie (Biggs) Graves


His obituary is standard fare - 84 years old, prominent farmer, moved from his home in Stark county, Illinois to Madison county, Iowa, married Nannie, had children, etc.  But the best part of the story isn't found in the obituary.

It was Christmas Day, 1954.  John's niece, Zella and her family were on their way to her father's home for Christmas.  They stopped to deliver Christmas greetings to John and Nannie.  John and Nannie were not planning an early Christmas meal with their own family but were preparing to have a quiet lunch at home instead.  They were both feeling well and in good health.  After a short visit, Zella and her family continued on their way.

Later that afternoon while the family was opening presents, Zella took a phone call.  After all the presents had been opened and "thank yous" given, she told the family that after lunch, Uncle John had laid down to take a nap and had passed away quietly in his sleep.

I can't think of a better ending to life - a nice visit with loved ones, followed by a quiet meal at home with my beloved spouse, and then simply relaxing and closing my eyes, all with a lovely white, snowy, glittery and joyous Christmas Day backdrop.  A gentle drift into eternity.  Rest in peace, Uncle John Graves, and thank you for a wonderful story.

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Many thanks to cousin Gerald (and cousin William) for sharing not only family documents and photos, but priceless stories and memories such as these.  Cousins, no matter how distant, add a richness and fullness to our mutual histories that cannot be obtained anywhere else, and are a true blessing.





Wednesday, March 14, 2012