Words have come a lot harder than the tears this past week so please forgive us for not saying sooner…  Thank You

The entire family thanks you for the many meals you’ve provided for our sustenance.  Thank you for the fragrant flowers sent to remind us that there is still beauty in a world shadowed with pain.  Thank you for the all-embracing hugs and condolences given to comfort us.  And our appreciation too, to those of you who have been here in spirit when you couldn’t be here in person.  We have benefited from your prayers and love as well.

It has been easy to dwell on the sadness when our heart clasps our breath at the most unlikely times and tears burn with the reminder we won’t see dad chopping wood, cooking dinner or reading his favorite book, today.  How greedy life makes us when we lose someone we love.  What deals we would make to have them back.  Yet as we are mired in loss for now,  we must keep remembering that the deal has already been sealed.  It has been most definitely sealed with the blood of our God’s son.  A promise that must lighten our hearts every time the thick gloom takes hold.  And we’ve seen that light in the love that is continuing to be extended to our family.  So, again, thank you for giving us a glimpse of the kind and loving world we will next see our father living in.

So how do you say goodbye to a Grandfather, a Father, a Husband, and a Friend?   You gather your closest and pray in earnest, you shed your tears on other quaking shoulders and embrace in a strong longing hold and then you remember.   You remember all the things about him that you loved and even the little things that irritated you and then you calm your voice and sing in praise for the hope we share.

And that is exactly what the Cook Family did.  On May 21, 2011 we gathered.  Along with friends and with those of you there in spirit, we remembered Dad.  Lloyd Yandell, a long time friend of father’s gave a heart comforting discourse on the life of Rayford Ennis Cook.   He described dad’s love for his family and for his God Jehovah.  He told of his generosity toward others, his love for the ministry, the hospitality he extended and the back-breaking work he was willing to do to help out when needed.   He even recounted dad’s frugality with a little humor.   Remember the red and white truck?  Well, it is still in the yard, though a little worse for the wear.  So it seems there had been a long-standing joke between Lloyd and dad over the need to replace it, or at least the old tattered broom that stood at the ready in the back of it.   Dad would laugh convinced there was no need for himself to become “materialistic” just because Lloyd had a newer more shiny one.  Lloyd got the better of him though.  Dad was quite surprised when he discovered his old rusty Ford truck was sporting a shiny new broom courtesy of his gloating “materialistic” friend.

We were comforted by the scriptures Dad appreciated the most and reminded of the many times he quizzed us to teach us how to reason on them.   It was with that reasoning we were strengthened with what the bible really teaches about the sleep like condition of the dead and the resurrection that awaits them.   Dad’s belief in that promise was sure right through the end.  He could still be heard trying to share his faith and love for Jehovah even with his last breaths.  Along with his stanuch faith there came his last request…. That he be welcomed back to that New World by each and every one of his loved ones.   With that we all stood and sang the following song as if the words of Rayford Ennis Cook where echoing in our ears.

Tamie’s husband, Randy Mason then helped us all in his closing prayer to appreciate the value of leaning on Jehovah while we continue to look forward to seeing our father again in Paradise.

Following a lovely reception at the Kingdom Hall, hosted by the Reedsport Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Cook Family made a stop at Lake Marie….one of dad’s favorite fishing spots.    There, along with a few close friends we paid our final tribute in love to the man who had stood on those very banks fishing for trout when he wasn’t “fishing for men.”

Earlier that morning I had found a poem written in my father’s hand, tucked next to his Bible. It was fitting that it be read aloud as my brother Roger cast a line into the lake and planted one of dad’s fishing poles into the bank of Lake Marie.

The Long Garment of Love

You
can’t stand on the banks of the river of waters of life, watching them slowly
glide by.  The river flows eventually
into the Lake of Everlasting life where there will forever be islands of
paradise and always smooth sailing.

However
as the river winds its way – there will be eddies, ripples, rocks, even some small falls.  These are really your Brothers
and Sisters, some rough cut – not too clean yet, immature, not so nearly as
nice as you.  They will cause you some
bumps, bruises and scrapes…  Nothing more than skin deep.

Enduring them will be your very greatest challenge!!!

Not to worry!

The waters of truth will
cleanse all who Go with the flow – the others will be washed ashore.

No way to avoid the bumps – but you can
avoid the bruises and scrapes if you stay fully clad in the buoyant, water
resistant, heavy duty, all purpose, long garment of Love

written by

Rayford Ennis Cook

After this reading the men who loved him wrote personal sentiments on rocks before skipping them across the peaceful clear water before us. The daughters and granddaughters in remembrance of their “Poppy;” then continued the tribute by tossing in after the stones, beautiful little orange and golden poppies. Mom completed the family service on the shore by tossing in a last bouquet of poppies and softly saying, “Goodbye Honey.”

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