Tag Archives: death

AN ANGEL’S MESSAGE FOR GRANDPA

The day was cold, but not as cold as the heart of an old man sitting alone on a park bench with tears rolling down his cheeks. He didn’t seem bothered by the cold temperature, but something more serious had numbed his senses—his emotions were in distress.

After a few minutes passed, a young boy and man came walking along the path near the park bench. They stopped directly in front of the old man and, without any hesitation, the young boy asked, “Sir, are you okay? I see the tears on your cheek. Are you hurt?”

The old man raised his head slightly until his eyes met the eyes of the young boy. “Young man, today is a very sad day for me. I traveled many miles to come see my grandson in the hospital right down the street there. I had car trouble on the way and waited for twelve hours by the roadside before a kind soul stopped to help me.”

“I’m sorry your car broke down,” said the boy. “Have you seen your grandson yet?”

“No, I didn’t make it to the hospital in time to see him. I wasn’t able to tell him…” said the old man as he lowered his head and looked toward the ground.

“You weren’t able to tell him what?” asked the young boy.

While still looking toward the ground, the old man replied, “To tell him how much I love him and to wish him a Merry Christmas. He passed away three hours before I arrived. I can’t believe he’s gone. I’m so…”

“Sir, are you Joey’s Grandpa—his Grandpa Ben?”

A bit confused, the old man raised his head slightly and replied, “Yes, I am, but why did you ask me that? Do you know Joey?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the young boy. “I’m Zack. Joey is my new friend and he told me all about you.”

“He did what? When?” retorted Grandpa Ben.

“Yes, sir! Just a few minutes ago, Joey asked me to tell you how much he loves you. He wanted me to wish you a Merry Christmas. He said to tell you he is fine and in good hands.”

“I don’t understand. What? That’s impossible! How did you talk to Joey?” snapped Grandpa Ben.

“Joey is sitting on a park bench like you are now. He’s talking to Jesus,” replied Zack.

With that, Grandpa Ben lowered his head toward the ground thinking about what Zack just said. He wondered why Zack was talking such nonsense. Without raising his head, he asked, “Zack, how do you know he’s talking to Jesus?”

Several seconds passed without hearing an answer to his question. Grandpa Ben looked around and Zack was nowhere in sight. Instead, the only person standing in front of him was the man who he saw walking with Zack.

The man leaned down toward the old man and said, “Sir, are you alright? I couldn’t understand what you were saying. Can I get some help for you?”

“What? Where did Zack go? He was just standing right there talking to me. The two of you were standing together in front of me. Who are you?” the old man asked.

“Sir, my name is Sam Jones, but no one was with me today. I’m alone just as you are,” said the man with an air of concern for the old man.

“I’m very pleased to meet you, Sam. My name is Ben. Zack was just standing there beside you talking to me,” replied Ben.

His eyes swelling with tears, Sam managed to say, “Ben, I’m not sure what you’re trying to do to me, but my son, Zack, was killed by a drunk driver on this date three years ago. It happened at the intersection right over there. I walk here each year and remember the good times we shared. It’s my way of feeling as if Zack is walking with me. I miss him so much.”

Totally confused, Ben stammered, “I’m so sorry, Sam. I didn’t mean to… I was just… I mean… I… Zack was with…”

++++++ FOOD FOR THOUGHT ++++++

  • Do you have faith and believe in Jesus?
  • Do you think angels are capable of sending messages to us?
  • Do you think angels walk among us?
  • Have you ever experienced the presence of an angel?
  • Have you ever felt the presence of God in your life?

If your answers to the above are no, you should ask Grandpa Ben what he thinks.

Blessings to all who have lost loved ones. I hope this short story helps you feel the warmth of their presence during this Christmas season and that your heart is full of joy and happiness knowing they are nearby.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

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TWO BRAVE SENTINELS GUARDING MY FRONT DOOR

Two old rocking chairs sit motionless on my front porch. They are like two brave sentinels guarding my front door, but when folks come to visit me, they don’t even notice them sitting there. Those two old rockers don’t even exist as far as they are concerned, but they would likely think them out of place if they ever paused to notice them sitting there.

However, those two sentinels aren’t just old rocking chairs to me. You see, there was a time when those rockers were full of life, but that was many years ago when they guarded a different door. Cheerful voices and laughter filled the air around them as they rocked for hours back in those days.

Beneath the countless layers of paint applied to those two old rocking chairs through the years, you will find the golden beauty of a life once lived. The loving hands of a kind-gentle man made those rockers long before I was born, and if they could speak, they’d tell you stories that would make you smile, laugh, sigh, and maybe even shed a tear or two.

I have many fond memories of those rocking chairs, which is why I have them sitting there. It saddens me that no one notices or rocks in them anymore. I guess folks are just too busy these days and don’t have time to enjoy the simple things in life—like rocking and sharing special moments together. It seems folks are too busy running hither and yon or playing with electronic gadgets to consider enjoying such simple pleasures in life anymore.

The only time I ever see those two rocking chairs move these days is when the force of a gentle breeze kisses them softly as one would a newborn child. It is then those two old rockers seem to come alive again. I can even hear the sounds of soft voices and laughter floating on the invisible currents of air carrying the sweet aroma of gardenias I breathed long, long ago. It is during such precious moments that the floodgates of my mind open wide, releasing a river of memories as I envision the two of them sitting there.

You see, those two old rocking chairs mean the world to me. They belonged to my grandparents, Nene and Pop. When I close my eyes, I imagine Nene knitting as she slowly rocks back and forth while Pop puffs away on a corncob pipe he created with his rough, swollen hands. I don’t think Pop ever lit that old pipe though because I never saw any telltale smoke rising into the air, and the only scent I ever breathed came from Nene’s gardenias growing near their front porch. Maybe chewing on that old pipe was just Pop’s way of relaxing and remembering the glory days of his past—just as I am doing now.

I recall the many occasions when I snuggled quietly on Pop’s lap as we rocked for hours when I was a young boy. Sometimes we rocked well into the dark of night and counted the lightning bugs that came our way. Pop told me those flashing lights were angels saying hello to us. I believed him back then—I believe him even more so now.

However, most of our time together in that old rocking chair had Pop telling me stories about his childhood. I never knew if his stories were true, but it really didn’t matter to me. I just enjoyed hearing them and seeing the warm glow of a kind heart beaming from his eyes as he told each story. Every now and then, he would look down at me and flash a whimsical wink. That’s when I knew Pop had just shared a small piece of his soul with me, and only me. It made me feel warm inside and I always begged him to tell me more.

I will never forget the special moments that we shared—those precious moments in life when you feel so loved by someone that you want to shout out to the world to let everyone know how wonderful you feel.

We planned to celebrate my sixth birthday at Nene and Pop’s house that year. Nene was baking me a giant cake with her tender-loving hands, and I couldn’t wait to have my first sweet bite of heaven.

We were about to leave our house for my special celebration when the phone rang loudly that day. Mama answered and shouted, “Oh, no!” and started crying. She dropped the phone onto the floor and collapsed to her knees. I sensed something was wrong, but didn’t know what it could possibly be.

Daddy rushed to Mama’s side and helped her to her feet, but all she could say was, “Nene… Nene… Nene just…” Daddy held Mama in his arms, but she wouldn’t stop crying. Then Mama wrapped her arms around me and hugged me very tight. She didn’t say a word, but continued to cry—it made me sad to see her that way.

“Mama, you don’t have to cry because I love you this much,” as I spread my hands as far apart as I could. “See! Look Mama! See how much I love you!”

Mama finally paused for just a brief moment and squeezed me even tighter. Then she whispered softly in my ear, “We’re going to Pop’s house now, but we’ll have to wait to celebrate your sixth birthday another day. I’m so sorry, Taylor. Is that okay with you?”

I was disappointed, but I could sense I didn’t have a choice. I sadly replied, “Yes, ma’am—it’s okay. You don’t have to cry anymore. I’m your big boy now. I’ll take good care of you,” as I gently placed my hands on her tear-soaked cheeks.

“Yes, you are my big boy, and I knew you would understand,” as she continued wiping her tears. “Now, when we get to the farm, I want you to go to the barn and check on Pop’s chickens. You can feed them too, if you like. Will you do that for Pop and me?”

“Yes, ma’am— I will.” Again, I was confused, but I knew there were no other options for me. It was something I had to do.

When we arrived at the farm, I saw two police cars and an ambulance parked in front of Pop’s house with their lights flashing brightly. I remember thinking that it wasn’t a good sign to see them there and felt something must be terribly wrong. Mama told me to go to the barn and stay there until she came to get me. It was to be for just a little while.

I fed the chickens as Mama asked me to do, and then waited for what seemed to be a very long time. Then I saw Mama walking toward the barn, still wiping tears with each step she took. She knelt beside me, placed her hands on my shoulders, and said, “Taylor, I have something I must tell you and I want you to be my big boy when I do.”

Having no idea of the gravity of the moment, I replied, “Is it time for my birthday party? I’m ready to blow out the candles and eat the yummy cake Nene baked for me!”

After I said that, Mama started crying again, but her tears began flowing much more than before. It was the first time I had ever seen my mama cry so much. Her tears were falling like raindrops from the sky above. I thought I had done something wrong, but she wasn’t scolding me. Instead, she put her arms around me and pulled me firmly against her chest. She held me so tight I could feel her heart beating very fast.

She looked at me through red-swollen eyes and whispered softly, “Taylor, Nene—Nene went away today. She went to live with Jesus up in heaven.”

With the innocence of a child I replied, “When will she be coming back home, Mama? I don’t want Nene to miss my birthday party. She made a special cake for me!”

“Taylor, you know Nene loves you very much, but she won’t be coming back. She’s an angel and lives in heaven now, but I know she will still be watching you when we celebrate your special birthday.”

“But Nene didn’t tell me goodbye or sing happy birthday to me! She always tells me goodbye before she leaves. Mama, I want to go in the house to see Nene now! It’s my very special day! I’m six years old today! I’m your big boy now!”

Mama started crying even harder after I said that. She must have known I didn’t understand what she had told me. I pushed myself away from her grasp and started running toward Nene’s house. I heard Mama shouting my name, but I kept running as fast as my little legs could go. I was going to hear Nene sing happy birthday to me, but before I could get to the house, Daddy came down the steps and blocked my path.

I had never seen Daddy cry before, but I could see he was very upset that day. He had always told me big boys don’t cry. I was very confused by the tracks of tears I saw streaming down his cheeks because my daddy was, indeed, a very big boy. Big boys aren’t supposed to cry—Daddy told me so.

“Easy, Taylor! Now is not a good time for you to go inside Pop’s house. It will be better if you stay outside with your mama and me. Let’s go sit in the rocking chairs on the front porch for a few minutes.”

We walked in silence to the front porch and as I crawled up in Dad’s lap, I started crying as I said, “I want to see Nene! Daddy, please let me go see Nene!”

I fought hard to free myself, but Daddy was much too strong—I couldn’t break free.

“Did Mama tell you about Nene?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, but I want to go inside to see her. I want her to sing happy birthday to me because it’s my sixth birthday today. Mama said that it was my special day and if I made a wish, it would come true. My wish is to see Nene now. That’s all I wish for on my special day.”

Daddy picked me up and started walking toward the barn. When we got to Mama, she and Daddy hugged with me in the middle. We all stood there crying, but I didn’t really understand why until Daddy explained it to me again. That was the day I learned how it feels to lose someone you love very much. Yes, Nene went to heaven, but Mama told me that if I kept her in my heart, she would always be with me.

Well, I never did have that six-year-old birthday party. I guess Mama and Daddy were too busy with Nene’s funeral and taking care of Pop to celebrate it with me. They probably forgot about it, but I was okay with it because, party or no party, I was still a big boy—I was now six years old!

I remember going to Pop’s house every day over the next two weeks to make sure he was okay. I would sit on his lap in that old rocking chair, but he no longer told me stories after Nene went away. We just sat still with Pop staring off into the distance. It was as though he wasn’t there with me anymore. When I tried to talk to him, he just glanced down at me for a brief moment, but the warm glow he used to have in his eyes was no longer present. His eyes seemed so empty, as if his reasons for living were no longer there. However, each time a lightening bug flashed its light at us, I saw Pop smile. Then he would say, “Hello, Nene! I miss you so much! I’m looking forward to being by your side again—the way it used to be.”

Early into the third week after Nene went to heaven, Mama came to me crying once again. Based on my recent experience with Nene going to be with Jesus, I knew something was surely wrong. However, nothing could have prepared me for what she said to me that day.

“Taylor, I have some sad news to share with you, and I hope you will understand. Pop went to heaven to be with Nene today. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

I understood very well what she meant this time. We hugged and wiped away many more tears that day. I knew the weeks to follow were going to be very tough. I always thought I was the big boy Dad told me to be, but I cried a lot during those long weeks. Two people who I loved dearly were now up in heaven with Jesus, but I knew they were still watching over me because I was carrying them in my heart, as Mama told me I could do.

Mama and Daddy took care of selling the farm and most of Nene and Pop’s possessions because we didn’t have room to store them in our little house. The only things I asked to keep were the two old rocking chairs sitting on Nene and Pop’s front porch. Mama and Daddy finally agreed to let me have both of them, and I am very grateful they did.

When I got married many years later, the first things I moved to our new house were those two old rocking chairs. My wife thought they were hideous and wanted me to get rid of them. She said they were nothing but old pieces of wood—junk not worthy of having at our new house.

It was our first big argument, but I stood my ground. I refused to give in and placed those two old rockers on our front porch that day. She eventually accepted the fact I was keeping them, but she wanted to place them on the back porch because she didn’t want her friends to see them sitting there.

Eventually, I told her the story behind those two old rocking chairs, and they have been sitting on the front porch of every house we have lived in. Those two sentinels will always be guarding my front door, even though my wife will never fully understand how much they mean to me.

Sixty years have now slipped past since Nene and Pop went to be with Jesus, but each time I look at those two old rocking chairs, I imagine them still sitting there. Nene is knitting away and Pop is chewing on his handmade-corncob pipe.

On my birthday each year, I sit in Pop’s old rocking chair and pretend I’m celebrating my sixth birthday with him and Nene. I feel his presence and look into his eyes. What I see is that warm glow of his kind heart looking down at me once more.

Yes, Pop and Nene are still rocking together; the way it was meant to be. Now, when I see lightening bugs flashing their lights at me, I know it is Nene and Pop stopping by to say hello—Pop told me that long ago, and I know it to be true.

When I listen very carefully, I can even hear both of them singing happy sixth birthday to me. That thought warms my heart and always makes me smile. Yes, I just sit there for a few moments rocking with Nene and Pop—the way it used to be.

Just two old rocking chairs sitting motionless there, and yet, they are very full of life to me. Those two old rocking chairs hold fond memories of two people who will always have a special place in my heart. My Nene and Pop will always be rocking side-by-side on my front porch.

So, the next time you happen upon two old rocking chairs just sitting there, pause for just a moment and look beyond what your eyes can see. You may find your personal version of “Nene and Pop” sitting there, just the way it was meant to be. If not, think of all the stories those two old rocking chairs could tell you, if only they could speak.

May God bless you with many fond memories of those who now shine their lights upon you when they come to say hello—Pop told me that long ago, so I know it to be true.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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THEY SAY MY PAIN WILL GO AWAY

 

They say my pain will go away,

but they never knew you at all.

They never felt my heart pound

when you walked into the room.

They never saw the things you

did to help others find their way.

They say my pain will go away,

but I know those are just words.

I will hold you in my heart forever,

and try to make you proud of me.

Blessings to those who have ever lost a loved one. Make them proud of who you become and hold them in your heart forever.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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YOUR DASH IN LIFE

I recently attended the Celebration of Life service of a friend who was a loving father and devoted grandfather. A man of character who was loved by his family and friends.

It was a dreary-rainy day as my wife and I arrived at the chapel. Naturally, the tears falling from the gray skies added to the somber mood of the occasion. Then, as if queued by the words the minister was extolling, I noticed the stained glass windows begin to brighten—a clear indication the clouds were parting and God was shining His light down on a life once lived.

The timely transition from rain to sunshine in a matter of minutes was inspiring, but it was the message delivered by the minister that grabbed my attention most. I have heard the message many times before, and you probably have too. However, it never hurts to have a little reminder.

The minister began by praising my friend and then started explaining the meaning of the DASH that appears between the two dates on a tombstone. I am paraphrasing his words, but the essence of his message was this:

There are two dates on a tombstone. The first date is the day a person’s life began. The second date is the day that life ended. Both dates are important, but what matters most is the DASH placed between them.

TombstoneDash1A

You see, that DASH is not simply a short line carved in stone; it represents a person’s entire life. It contains all the things done and the dreams for a future left undone. It holds the memories family and friends will cherish as they grow to accept the loss of a loved one.

Though that DASH may look the same to the casual observer, it has a different meaning for each person who had an opportunity to share moments in the life it represents.

As we gather here today to celebrate a DASH, we are also making our own DASH in life. Therefore, I ask you, what memories will your DASH represent for those you leave behind? What memories will they have about you when your DASH appears between two dates? Will they be good memories? I pray your answer is yes.

Although, we cannot control what others remember about us, we can control the things we do in life and how we treat others.

As you leave this chapel today, I want you to think about your DASH. One day you will be a memory for your family and friends. Try to leave them with good memories by making your DASH in life the best it can be.

May God be with each of you as you continue making your DASH in life.

Certainly something worth thinking about.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor  LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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I’LL DO IT TOMORROW

Have you ever said, I’ll do it tomorrow? I certainly have—many times! We usually have good intentions when we say it, but we also know “the road to ‘wherever’ is paved with good intentions.”

The “I’ll do it tomorrow” thing got me thinking. We don’t expect that delaying seemingly minor things until tomorrow will have a dramatic impact on our lives. Unfortunately, they can—when we least expect it!

AngerSundown

This short story about a young couple is a good example of a minor situation turning into major event. It happens!

Three Little Words

John and Beth love each other and plan to get married in the near future. Like many couples, they sometimes argued about insignificant things, but usually managed to resolve their differences with a kiss, followed by three little words, “I love you.”

Last night’s argument was a bit different though. Things didn’t go very well. The harsh words exchanged about a minor issue made both of them angry; John left Beth’s apartment abruptly. There was no goodnight kiss and neither said those three little words. This had never happened before.

After hours of waiting anxiously for John to call with an apology, Beth finally went to bed. Unfortunately, John did the same. Both wanted to tell the other how sorry they were. They even reached for their phone many times, but decided to wait until tomorrow to make the call.

With heavy hearts from the previous night’s argument, John and Beth headed off to work the next day. Neither took time to call the other to say, “I’m sorry for what I said last night. Please forgive me. I love you!”

Beth had a busy morning with a desk full of paperwork, but her focus was on her cell phone, wishing John would call. She just wanted to hear the voice that always caused her heart to melt—just three little words from him would brighten her day.

As if queued by her growing despair, Beth’s phone started ringing with her favorite tone and John’s photo on display.

Beth answered, “Hi, Sweetheart! I’m so happy you called because I have so much to say to you about last night. I lov…”

“Hello, ma’am. I’m sorry, but this is Silvia Smoak. I need to speak to Beth Brown, please.”

Confused by the unexpected female voice using John’s phone, Beth said, “This, um, um—this is she. To whom am I speaking?”

“Miss Brown, I’m Silvia Smoak, head nurse in the emergency room at Quincy Medical Center. Do you know a gentleman by the name of Mr. John Clark?”

“Yes, I do. He’s my fiancé. Why are you using John’s phone?”

“Miss Brown, I am so sorry I have to tell you this, but Mr. Clark was involved in a work-related accident this morning.”

“Oh, no! Is John okay?”

“No, ma’am. Mr. Clark…”

Silvia heard a loud noise followed by an eerie silence, as if Beth had dropped the phone.

“Miss Brown, are you still there? Miss Brown, Miss Brown…”

“Hello, this is Becky. I’m Beth’s friend. She just ran out of the office screaming, “John! Accident! Quincy Medical! Who is this, and what’s going on?”

“Becky, this is Nurse Silvia Smoak at Quincy Medical. I’m not at liberty to speak to anyone other than Miss Brown at this time. I’ll explain everything to her when she arrives at the emergency room.”

Beth entered the emergency room.

“Miss Brown? Hi, I’m Silvia Smoak. I called you earlier because I found your name as the emergency contact on Mr. Clark’s cell phone…”

“Where is John? What happened? Is he okay? I want to see him!”

“Miss Brown, please have a seat and I’ll explain everything to you.”

“I don’t need to sit down; I’m fine! Take me to John!”

“Miss Brown, I’m so sorry to inform you that Mr. Clark did not survive the accident. He di…”

“No! He can’t be—I didn’t tell him, I…,” shouted Beth as she collapsed into Nurse Smoak’s arms.

“I need some help here!” shouted Nurse Smoak.

“Miss Brown—Miss Brown, can you hear me?”

Still groggy, Beth replied, “Yes. Where’s John?”

Miss Brown, I know this is shocking news…”

“Wait! I know! This is one of John’s silly pranks, isn’t it? He likes to play silly games with me.”

“No, Miss Brown. I wish it were a prank. You see, Mr. Clark was involved in an explosion and our attempts to revive him proved unsuccessful. He succumbed to his injuries a short time ago. I’m so sorry.”

The reality of John’s demise hit Beth hard and she started crying uncontrollably as Nurse Smoak continued consoling her.

“Miss Brown, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how difficult this must be for you. Is there anyone I can call for you?”

“I, I don’t know— John’s parents are deceased. I can’t believe he’s… Why did this happen to John?”

“Miss Brown, I wasn’t trying to invade your privacy, but when I looked on Mr. Clark’s cell phone for whom to contact in case of an emergency, I saw an unsent text message meant for you. I’m sure you will want to read it. His message may give you some much needed comfort.”

With tears flowing down her cheeks, Beth began reading John’s text message.

“Hi, Sweetheart! Just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for leaving you the way I did last night. I was wrong and should have been more understanding. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms tonight! I LOVE YOU! XOXOXO”

JohnsText

+++++

Life is complicated and can change in the blink of an eye. Beth is now fully aware of the consequences that can come from waiting until tomorrow to do things. If there is something you should say or do today, don’t put it off until TOMORROW. Living life with regrets can be more painful than swallowing one’s pride today.

Proverbs 27:1

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Ephesians 4:26

…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…

I hope you never find yourself in a situation similar to Beth’s, so try to remember this:

Yesterday is now the past,

And Tomorrow may never be.

Do all things you must Today,

So regrets don’t come your way.

God’s blessings to you and yours!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor  LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

MY FIRST PET

When I was about six years old, my parents gave me a dog. It wasn’t anything special and looked much like Petey on the popular television show from long ago, The Little Rascals. I didn’t even know what kind of dog she was, but that didn’t matter—she was mine.

I named her Inky because of the large black spots that were scattered randomly all over her body. Inky became my best friend and followed me everywhere I went, which was all over our neighborhood. We were inseparable, and I loved that dog.

I was completely responsible for her. I had to feed, bathe, and make sure she had water to drink. Caring for her was actually good training for me, as it taught me a lot about responsibility.

Inky and I had been together for about three years, and my love for her had grown stronger each year. I came home from school one day and couldn’t find her. I searched all over the neighborhood looking for her. I kept calling her name, but there was no response. I thought she was lost. I was devastated.

I continued searching for hours, and finally I saw her under the house. Back then, our house didn’t have a foundation curtain wall around the perimeter. There was nothing to prevent you from seeing under the house. I called her name, but she didn’t move. I crawled under the house to get her. When I put my hand on her, she still didn’t move and felt cold. I continued talking to her, but there was no response.

I ran inside the house and told Mama I found Inky but I couldn’t make her wake up. Mama came outside with me and called to Inky, but she still didn’t move. That’s when Mama hugged me tightly and started crying. I didn’t know what was going on, but I figured it wasn’t happy tears, as she sometimes called them. This was very different—I could sense pain as she started talking to me in a shaky voice.

“Inky is. . . um, Inky went to dog heaven to be with Jesus,” she said.

“No she didn’t! She’s right there. Mama, make her wake up!”

“Tommy, Inky’s spirit is in dog heaven with Jesus. She’s not coming back home. You need to bury Inky’s body because her heart has stopped beating. I’m so sorry, but Inky is not coming back. . . she’s dead.”

I shouted, “No! No! No! I want Inky to come back! Please let Inky come back to me,” I yelled as I ran to my secret hiding place up in the huge oak tree in our backyard. I climbed up as high as I could and sat there crying my heart out. I wanted Inky to come back home to me. I sat there for about an hour, I guess. To me, Inky was just resting. . . nothing else. I knew she would come back out from under the house to play with me.

Then Mama walked out to the tree with a shovel in her hand. That was the day when the frailty of life hit me hard. I had never considered that Inky could be dead. I didn’t really even know what being dead meant. I had never experienced anything like that before, except for the fish Dad and I caught. Even then, I didn’t think about the fish being dead. It was the process we went through in order to eat them.

“Tommy, I know you’re upset, but this is something that happens to all living things. They are born, they live for a while, and then they go to heaven. Now come on down. It’s time for you to bury Inky. She needs to have a proper funeral. You can put her grave over there by the fence.”

I came down from my hiding place, and Mama handed me the shovel. I could hardly see because of the tears in my eyes. All I could think about was I didn’t want to bury Inky, but it didn’t matter. Mama told me I had to do it. She handed me a plastic bag and told me to place Inky in the bag before I buried her.

I started digging and my tears continued streaming down my cheeks onto the soil. I cried so much while I was digging that I think I ran out of tear juice. I placed Inky in the hole and covered her with the tear-soaked soil. When I finished, Mama came over and handed me a cross that had “INKY RIP” written on it. I placed the cross in the ground at the head of her grave. Mama said it was time for us to say a prayer for Inky.

I bowed my head as Mama said, “Jesus, Inky is in dog heaven with you now. Please take good care of her. She was a good dog, and I know she will be good for you too. Amen. Do you want to say something, Tommy?”

All I could manage was, “I love you, Inky. Please come back home.”

I then climbed back up into the tree to my hiding place and sat for a long time. Mama didn’t say anything else and went back inside the house. Having Inky with me for three years was great, but having her go to dog heaven was tough on me.

When I came home from school each day, I went out to Inky’s grave and knelt down beside her. I talked to her, but I never heard her bark in reply. I did this every day for about a month. I managed to live through the experience, and I guess it helped me appreciate the time I did have with Inky…

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

+++ BACKGROUND INFORMATION +++

The preceding is a true story from my youth. I changed the name of the boy and used the story as a scene in my novel ON GREEN DIAMONDS: PURSUING A DREAM where one of the main characters (Gabe) reflected on an experience from his childhood. There are many other life lessons throughout the book. Hope you have a chance to read the full story, which is available from most online bookstores in eBook, paperback, and hardback formats.

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contact Tom by e-mail at OnGreenDiamonds@gmail.com

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