Today I advise you to look deeply into the eyes of the ones you love and memorize the twinkle in their eyes and the lilt of their smiles. Touch the softness of their skin and inhale slowly when you hug them so that you capture the scent of their hair and take a minute to let their heartbeat make an indelible mark on your chest so that you will never forget the way it feels. Do it! Do it as soon as you can!

This morning is one I will hold dear forever. Dad and I awoke early and with the fire crackling in the wood burning stove in front of us, we spent some time together reviewing the posts on this site.  We played the music that Teresa, Leanna and I had dedicated to him and read the lyrics…tear inducing moments. Beautiful words, beautiful music, yet still lacking, because there are no words, no music to convey the way that we feel about our father.

Dad has expressed his appreciation for this site on many occasions and it is deeply satisfying to Teri and I that we have been able to give this to him. We appreciate the posts and comments from the family and friends that have participated.  Dad enjoys it so much.

We laughed at Teri’s posts about their visit back East…(the very tardy post from Teri, tsk, tsk).  Dad recalled the times they had driving down those lanes that he had once walked on, rode his bike on, and driven his first car on….roads where his family, aunts, uncles, and cousins lived ( and where some still live) and breathed, laughed and cried, and then died on. How do you sum up the lives of those precious family members that have passed in words? How do you measure the emotions that were lived out on those roads?  How can you recapture the moments fully enough? How, oh how, do you make peace with the fact that it is the last time you will travel down those roads, the last time you will stand at the gravesites of the people who were responsible for giving you life and who helped to form you into the person you are now?

Truly a melancholy morning.  While I sit here typing this, Dad just called out to me and said that after reading through all these posts and all the comments that you, his friends and family have made…he has decided that because he loves you all so much, there is no way he is going to die and leave you…so he is calling this death thing off.  He says you will have to leave him first…OH MAKE IT SO!

This morning, we read the latest post, which was from our dear sweet Allison…Dad says that Allison is on his “List”. You see, Dad has written a list of people who have touched his heart, people who are special to him.  It is quite a list and a whole lot of the people are also on my list. It was great to have him read the names to me and tell me why each one listed is special to him. The reasons that he stated were that he cherishes your devotion and integrity to Jehovah, the kindness in your hearts, that you endured through many trials…he loved the smiles and the life-long love you have shown for our family. I believe that it is a fine thing indeed to be on the Ray Cook List.  He had Teri and I buy him some stationary so that he can write to the people on the list and thank them for their contributions to the joys in his life. Hopefully he will get those letters written and we can get them delivered. His handwriting has always been beautiful and unique…when you get a note from Dad, you immediately recognize the writing. However, just lately the hands have been a little jigglyand wiggly.

I have been here one week and everyday has had visitors stopping by. The Reedsport Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses have claimed Dad as one of their own. They have loved Mom and Dad, nurtured them and showered them with such kindness. We will always owe them such a debt of gratitude…although, they have benefitted and been blessed, if I do say so myself. See, they have been able to enjoy Mom and Dad for all these years and that is a gift. To worship Jehovah shoulder to shoulder with Ray Cook is a wonderful and beautiful thing. If you worship Jehovah you are automatically put into a special catagory with Ray Cook, a special place in his heart, that is devoted for those who cherish their relationship with his God. If you know Dad, you know that Dad truly loves Jehovah, loves his Word, His Son, and the people Jehovah has chosen to be his worshippers at a level that is truly special and should be imitated. If you are not currently serving Jehovah, Dad wants us, his children, to continue assisting and urging you to do so after he is gone.  Dad says in his own words (dictating this while I am typing) that he desparetly wants you to desparetly search for that narrow path that leads to everlasting life in peace with God in pleasure and plenty in Paradise. He says that he will be so devastated if when he wakes up in Paradise you are not there waiting for him.

Dad loves digging for the deeper nuggets in the Bible, loves the Greek and Hebrew words and has spent thousands of hours pondering, prodding and digging to get at the truth treasures and oh how he loves to share those nuggets with anyone who will listen. I have always joked that spending time with Dad is like living in the “Bible” Topic on Jeopardy. I always leave with more knowledge than I had when I got here.

These are times to be cherished. These are memories that will be treasured. A time of retrospect, walking down memory lane and recalling the people and times that make a life too precious to give up too easily. Dad is fighting hard to get through just one more day, day after day….just one more day.

Now, go hug your loved ones!

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