The Last Words

No, this isn’t to announce my departure from the writing world. Hold off on those celebrations of untamed joy. Also those comments about how I shouldn’t get your hopes up like that. Or the ones about giving you a heart attack before the morning coffee, and how dare I sneak up on you like that. Or anything about Chuck Norris.

Thanks for your restraint.
I’ve been noticing lately how important last words are. Parting words, blessing words, benedictions – all things we may or may not notice, or place value in, but that I think are more important than what we see at one glance. And so I’m trying to mindfully change my actions to match these new thoughts.
As I say so often, ‘lemme ‘splain.
When my mom was in her final months and weeks and days here in this world, the importance of those last moments came into crystal clear focus. When any moment might be the last one, they all become essential.
But really, doesn’t that last sentence apply to every moment?
Anyway, when my final moment with her came, I had no idea it was the last one. We had moved her into a care facility (at her request), we came that evening to see her settled for the night, Vicki was off getting something for her, and God prompted me to do something that I am so grateful for.
A blessing.
I placed my hand on her head, and spoke the words we’ve all heard so many times… “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and grant you His peace, now and evermore.” I don’t know if she heard those words – she was in and out of this world and in and out of the new world. But I heard them, and our Father heard them.
And in the morning, He granted His peace and brought her home. So those were the last words I ever spoke to my mom in this world. She departed in peace, and my heart was left in peace as well. No regrets.
This tells me that our last words are essential – more important than we sometimes think. For those we love, if they are our last words, and they go on, those blessing words will stay with them.
But if we are the ones to go on, we will know that we parted with something more significant than, “Catch ya later.” There’s nothing wrong with casual departures – life, with all its complexities and fast turnings and twistings is filled with them. But when time, circumstance, and God’s spirit align, those parting, blessing, life-giving words are more than just spouting off some pithy phrase.
To those we leave behind, they are a blessing over their heads and a light along the road.
To those who are left behind, they are closure and peace when the unexpected threatens our sanity.
In a weekend recently past, we spent time with family, those we don’t see often because distance separates us. It had been a year since we had seen one another, way way too long, but time and gas prices sometimes rear their ugly heads to drive a wall between intention and reality.
Or perhaps I’m just too lazy – after all, gas prices don’t really matter to a trike, only time does. Oh, and luggage – camping stuff, for example. There’s fuel too – the fuel to keep the legs pedaling and the fuel to keep the mind clear and functioning. Got to take training into account too – one can’t just take off without at least some preparation. Well, one can, but one will find himself kicked in the can not too far down the road.
Can one justify months of riding for a short visit, then months of riding the return trip? Let’s see… months on the trike, off the grid and out of the loop, traveling at snail’s pace under my own power? *sigh* Let me think about it, and get back to you…
(I wonder if Greyhound or Amtrak would get me and Big Blue part of the way, to trim a couple of months off the trip…

This random thought brought to you by Steve, the Mental Hamster, who reminds me that whither I goest, so goest Steve. Months of just me on the trike, with Steve for a co-pilot… That may kill the whole thing right there.)
So when my dear ones left, I took the time to speak words over them.
To myself, I was thinking, “Here you go again – putting the ‘Weird’ in ‘Weird Uncle Cal’. A little pompous, isn’t it – pronouncing a benediction over them? Who do you think you are, a pastor blessing the flock on their way out the door and home to pot roast?”
And myself told myself to stuff it.
I don’t know when I’ll see them again – I hope it’s soon, I intend for it to be soon (after all, their trike riding season starts WAY earlier than mine, so a spring fever trike trip in, say, early March would do a lot to take off the chill of Michigan February!), but my intentions can easily get splattered in the aftermath of the reality steamroller. It could be months or a year or more until I see their faces and hug their necks…
Or never.
Life is fragile and fleeting, and although we can’t live on eggshells, like every moment is “the” one, we can live realistically, intentionally. So it may be weird, it may be pompous, but I think it’s only weird and pompous in my own head, and so I veto my own vote and get on with it.
Words of blessing at our parting. Words that will stay and light the ongoing path, or will grant closure and peace at the end of the path. To that end, I’m becoming a blessing collector. I want to have many, many words of blessing in my head and heart, a wide palate of choices so that when the Lord prompts me, He can speak the words He chooses over my loved ones, my friends, or whomever He wants.
There is a leather bound journal, made for me by my nephew who was one of those I spoke a benediction over that particular weekend, and I’m using that book to write blessings. When I find blessing words in scripture, they get written there by my own illegible hand in my own faulty penmanship. When I come across blessing words in something I read, a post I see, a sign I remember, they get written in the blessing book. Sometime, someplace, those words will be used to become a light on the path or peace at the end… even if those words are only for my own eyes and heart, to remind me to be watching and waiting for those times when blessings must be spoken.
Weird? Perhaps. Pompous? Hopefully not, but I guess you could see them that way. But way, way too important to just let them slide, to worry about being seen as odd, or to allow my self-conscious self to shut them down.
Parents? Speak the blessings – always.
Families? Speak the blessings – always.
Lovers? Speak the blessings – ever and ever.
Friends? Speak the blessings – over and over.
After all, the One from whom all blessings flow speaks the blessings over us – always, ever and ever, over and over.
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21 (TNIV)


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