the midwife`s journal < contents

36. saying goodbye
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My simple tales of birthing, written about my interactions with real people as they travel life's pathway are of necessity a shallow view of each event. I hold on to a memory, a mere fragment of the whole.

During the past few months another constant thread in my family's experience has been the preparation for the passing on of Noel's father, our children's grandfather. In many ways I am the onlooker, sharing their grief and entering into their experiences when and where I find an opportunity. As Noel has supported his mother I have been with him. As our children have watched him passing through the valley of the shadow of death they have done so from the safe cocoon of our family.

And now, as his body lies quietly in the front room of the house, as family members come and go, and plan for his burial tomorrow, it all seems perfectly reasonable and natural.

The shrunken, twisted old body was tired of this world. The mind which had eagerly embraced thought and argument had become clouded. The teacher, the preacher, the scholar, the poet, the story teller has now finished his course.

Some years ago he wrote:

Please do not grieve for me. I did not die!

A golden chariot swept me to the sky

and bore me into paradise. A sight

that filled my soul with rapturous delight

to see such glorious splendour! Then a throng

of joyous people filled the air with song

and led me to my Elder Brother's throne.

Why was I here? Because the womb of earth

disgorged me suddenly to a real birth,

and ended my apprenticeship of love

which trained me for eternal work above

in this delightful land - now my real home.

How could I stay when Jesus bade me come?

Edgar M Johnston, 1908-1998

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