There’s grace and beauty in being with someone on their first day and their last. Few things in life allow us that moment. Being present for a birth is full of hope and joy and awe. Death has entirely different emotions.

Dad died a few weeks ago at ninety-three, leaving an incredible legacy in living well and loving big. Though hard to put into words, it was a privilege to be there on his final day. Surrounded by family, we played his favorite reggae, steel drums, and Elvis tunes, mixed in with Baptist hymns, for several hours. It was as if we were lifting him up to another place.

Charles. C.H.A.R.L.E.S. Dad was unconscious his last day but had one moment of clarity. He woke; looked at the nurse, spoke and spelled his name. Just as he had lived his life full of purpose and direction, I believe he wanted to make sure he got where he wanted to be. Spelling his name, checking the list, he was making sure they had the right Charles. This made us chuckle!

Dad wasn’t the most patient man. Always way too early for most life events, checking the list early, was in keeping with who he was. Wait Charles, the gatekeeper must have said. A few more hours Charles. Get back in line. We’ve got you on the list. Rest and be present for your family. Though I doubt he wanted to, he listened, waited, and died hours later.

It’s hard to say what people are thinking in their last hours. But I know whatever dad was thinking, he gave us the gift of time. Time to say goodbye. Time to thank him for his goodness. Time to help him get where he was going.

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