Friday, July 6, 2012

Heaven is

Dad was a Christian.  He believed upon his death he was going to Heaven where he'd spend eternity with God.  On a side note: Dad was also pretty positive he got to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter would hand over the leash of a Basset Hound.  In Dad's Heaven he'd have a woodworking shop.  There'd be a comfortable recliner in a library.  And his Basset would be welcome everywhere.  Perhaps because Mom refused to let Dad have a dog when he retired he figured God provide one.  Dad's Heaven also included trains and rivers like the Columbia on which he could watch boats and ships. 

If you asked me Dad's version of Heaven sounded a lot like Southwest Washington.  But hey, it worked for him.  Who am I to say if he was right or wrong? 

A few years later when Mom died I arranged her funeral.  Those attending were commanded to wear their most colorful outfits, think Hawaiian print, and to dress casual.  When the officiating pastor remarked he'd feel more comfortable in a suit, I strongly suggested he be wearing new/clean underwear.  Absolutely no one attending the service was to wear somber colors, black or white.  We didn't care if he was a pastor; the suit would have to go.

Mother was an artist.  Traditionally one wears black and white to gallery openings so not to compete with the paintings.  Mourners then don all the color they can for the funeral to celebrate the artist's life.  During her latter years Mom lost the ability to distinguish color.  Her world was reduced to shades of gray.  This was another good reason for the colorful send off.  Mom knew when she got to Heaven there'd be a fully stocked art studio waiting for her.

I buried my brother in a brand new pair of bib overalls and a t-shirt emblazoned with a smart-mouth comment symbolic to his sense of humor.  We made sure there were certain things in his pockets.  Blame Led Zeppelin and the song Stairway to Heaven.  Allow me to misquote "when he gets there he knows the stores will be closed."  My brother had often said that would be his luck.  Therefore we sent him off with everything but the rum to go with the Coke.  I sort of figure if rum is available in his Heaven it's far better quality than what we've got here.

This morning a very dear friend passed away.  Larry once told me his version of Heaven was pretty simplistic.  Heaven is where all animals are safe, happy and well tended.  Years ago some preacher tried telling him Heaven didn't have animals.  Larry said if that was the case, then he didn't want to go there.  How can it be a "better place" without dogs and cats?  Larry knew when he got to Heaven all his pets that preceded him would be waiting.

If Heaven is what we make of it, then Larry went to the same Heaven as my dad.  They're probably out walking their dogs along the riverbank.  In a bit they'll kick back in the library with cookies and milk, their dogs sleeping alongside their chairs.  

For all his years of service in animal rescue, delivering pet food to outlying communities through all kinds of weather so no animal would go hungry, and taking in "just one more" I am certain God came through for Larry. 

Welcome to Heaven,  my friend.  All critters are safe and well-loved.  Enjoy eternity.  Just don't forget the squeaky toy.

Larry 1937 to 2012

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