Monday, March 12, 2007

The Story Continues

In my college coursework, I took a class entitled, "Death and Dying." One homework assignments required each student to write his or her own obituary and plan the funeral. (I've also enlisted this same exercise as I acquainted myself with the characters in a few of my stories. They've revealed their deepest hopes and dreams as I've played the role of reporter and transcriber for their obituaries.)

When I had to put pen to paper and write my own obit, the exercise proved to be quite thought provoking. How did I want the world--my family--to remember me? What life accomplishments would I want highlighted? What relationships associated with my name? And, what did I want NOT said? What misdeeds would I just as soon have buried with me, never to be remembered against me no more?

This week, our family is preparing for the "home-going" of my stepfather, George Williams. George's life is one intriguing story: born to Vaudeville-performer parents. . .set out to make his own way in the world as a young teen. . .worked in the West Virginia coal mines. . .served in the merchant marines during WWII (and bears the tattoos to prove it). . .then lived in Japan for several years following the war as a career military man.

But these descriptors don't tell the whole story of the man my mother fell in love with over a decade ago. George wants more than anything to be remembered as a man redeemed by God and committed to sharing his faith. He held every job there was to hold in his local church--from missionary president to janitor. Yet his religion went beyond works, straight to the heart.

By worldly standards, The Life of George might be considered the tale of an ordinary man. Yet, his story is a masterpiece in so many regards. Never shy to proclaim his devotion to Christ, George has also been a kind and Christlike companion to my mother, ever caring and attentive to her needs above his own. (And he gets a few more stars in his crown for being the only man I know who's actually read every single one of my published books.)

I thank God for allowing me to share in these final chapters of George Williams' earthly tome. I can't wait to see what Volume Two reveals!

George, your story continues in the lives you've touched. I love you. I'll miss you.



Kristy Dykes said...

A touching post, Susan. Thanks. And may the God of comfort comfort you at this time. That obit assignment is interesting in several ways. Really makes a person think. God bless--

Candice Speare said...

I'm praying, girlfriend. And what a thoughtful, wonderful post.

The Write Life said...

I'm praying, too, Susan. He sounds like a really wonderful man!


Beth Loughner said...

What a wonderful tribute to your step-father. And you're right, any man who reads all of our books deserves a wonderful reward in Heaven. :-) As far as writing one's own obit, I did the exact same assignment when taking a 'Death and Dying' class at OSU. It's brings so much into focus. May God find us faithful to the end.

Susan said...

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all of your kind comments. My stepfather passed away this afternoon.While we will miss him terribly, I know he's rejoicing in the Lord's presence right now. I will be traveling to Oklahoma to be with my mother and attend the funeral services which are slated for Friday. Your prayers in the coming days would be most appreciated. Susan Downs

L. Harris said...

Praying for you and your family Susan as well as rejoicing that your father-in-law is home now.

Cathy West said...

Oh, Susan,
I'm sorry for your loss! A wonderful post and the picture is great. May your memories comfort you. I am going through a loss as well, and it's hard. But such a blessing to know they are with Jesus.

Mary Connealy said...

I'm sorry for you loss, Susan. The tribute you wrote brought him to such vivid life for me. Thanks for sharing about this special man. God bless you and your family.

Linda Ford said...

Sorry for your loss. May God be with you each step of your journey both to the funeral and through the days of mourning.

Linda Ford