The Brevity of a Dash

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word this morning is BREVITY

And I suppose a person’s thoughts automatically go to “the brevity of life.” At least mine did, so here’s my response:

“Pleasant View” – what an upbeat name for a cemetery! Definitely a “Rest in Peace” note to that. I suspect half the cemeteries in this country are named Pleasant View, Rest Haven, or some slight variation.

I stroll through the cemetery searching familiar names and came across two identical tombstones, side by side. Small flat marble slabs, the first bearing the name:
James A Thorlakson
1933 – 1956

I pondered for a moment how much living is represented by that brief dash:
The baby in his mother’s arms, lovingly welcomed into the family
The small boy growing up in Aunt Sadie’s large family
The rough and tumble of childhood antics with three brothers
Sitting in school day after day, learning the three R’s –or daydreaming?
The teen years with their whirl of picnics, socials, weddings
His marriage to Margaret; the joys of setting up a home
Finding work in the oil fields, moving to southern Saskatchewan
Then the fatal car accident that etched the final date on his tombstone

The dates and the dash do tell me about the brevity of his life. Likewise with the next marble slab:
Walter F Thorlakson
1933 – 1956

I know that this single young man was killed in the same fiery car crash, together with their brother-in-law. Thank God cars have a better electrical system nowadays that they don’t burst into flames after a crash!

The dates don’t tell you how the three young men, all employed in the oil field, jumped in the car one Sunday afternoon – headed to a store? – and died on the highway near Weyburn. A family tragedy.

Their father couldn’t bear his loss. Depressed, he took his life in 1958. Another life abbreviated by this tragedy. His tombstone rests here in Pleasant View Cemetery as well.

Aunt Sadie carried on, bearing her losses and raising her other children as best she could. Sadie lived to be 92; her dash represents many years lived before and after these heartaches and others. For all her suffering, in her older years when I knew her, she was the sweetest, kindest person.

A Few Tears Shed…

Yesterday I wrote about my own health issues and the uncertainty of life. Today I’m shedding a few tears, and yet rejoicing, for a man who’s bravely faced over twenty-four years of uncertainty.

With one last puff, a flickering candle has blown out in this world. We all knew the end was near for blogger Bill Sweeney; he told us that in his last post. Now this morning, With A Heavy Heart, his wife Mary informs us that he’s passed away.

When he was first diagnosed, the doctors gave him about five years. Now, after over twenty-four years of battle with ALS — aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease — this warrior has been called home from the battlefield.

“O Death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?”
I Corinthians 15:55

When he first entered the battle against this foe, he reached out for the hand of God and grasped it, and found it firm to the end. Though Bill slowly lost his physical abilities and was finally completely paralyzed, still he carried on faithfully doing what he could. Via the internet, using a computer program that tracked his eye movements, he continued to share the good news of God’s love and encourage people around the globe.

He inspired us all to be more serious about our beliefs and more faithful to our Lord. All those who’ve read his posts will miss his sensible and gracious thoughts.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

II Timothy 4:7-8

Fading Out

Sammi has given bloggers another Weekend Writing Prompt:


The challenge is simple: each week you will be given an exact number of words you can use to write a poem or piece of prose.  You can use any format or style you like; go wherever your inspiration takes you.  The only rules are these:

  • your poem / prose must contain this week’s word (see note below).  The word does not have to count towards the exact word count total – it can be in the title, or the first letters of the lines of a poem can spell it out – you can be as creative as you want as long as it’s there somewhere.
  • the length of your poem / prose must match the number of words stated in this week’s challenge.  No more.  No less.
  • A note on the word: you can use any variation of the word (for example: call, calls, calling, called etc).  If you find you are struggling to use this week’s word you may substitute it for a synonym – just include a note to explain the swap.  Remember, this is supposed to be fun! 🙂

And here’s my attempt at seventeen words of wisdom:

See it fade from their eyes, this earth-light,
as the glow from another world draws them home.

Take My Hand, Precious Lord

This morning’s Ragtag Daily Prompt was HOLD MY HAND, a line that brings to mine one of my favorite—and one of the most beautiful—Gospel songs:

Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Lead Me Home

When my way grows drear, precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus:
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

When the shadows appear and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus…

CLICK HERE if you wish to hear this song

The writer of this beautiful hymn was Thomas Andrew Dorsey, in Georgia in 1899 and died Jan. 1993. From 1932 Dorsey was choral director of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago. He founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in Chicago in 1933, serving as its president for 40 years.

There’s a very touching story behind this song. He and his wife were married seven years and she was expecting their first child. He was called to sing in Gospel meetings in St Louis, MO, and she encouraged him to go. During one meeting he was handed a telegram that she had gone into labor and died in childbirth. Their son lived only a few hours. Visiting with a friend a few days later, seeking consolation for his deep grief, he sat down at a piano and composed this song.