I have so much to say about our trip. But when I am sad, I write.
Death is such a bitter, awful, repugnant event. It is a severing of ties, a change forced upon us, leaving a gaping hole that time will attempt to fill, but it will never be a perfect fit. We go around with a loss of more than a loved one. We lose what was, and we lose what could be.
I want to introduce you to someone----a person who was truly an answered prayer for my family. Our neighbor, "Mr. Darlo" as my kids called him, Darlo Pack. But we called him Brother Darlo.
Brother Darlo was a jack of all trades with a heart as big as the moon. He could fix cars with a smile on his face while little kids climbed all over his equipment. He was quick to help without being asked, and had even been know to hire a little boy to work in his shed shoveling manure----and pay him a whopping $20 for it. He changed diapers and always put them on backwards. He was quick with a laugh and a popsicle, and loved to "cut up and carry on" at something funny.
He was giving until it hurt, and never did a person truly in need leave without somehow being warmed by his generosity. And yet he wore the same clothing in his garage most days, drove the same Ford Ranger pick-up truck, and rarely went anywhere tremendously special.
Brother Darlo rarely sat still. He wasn't happy unless he was working, either in his garage, taking care of a honey-do list from his wife Miss Marie, or at the church he attended. But he had a stubborn streak. At 76 he was told to slow down, and he carried on as though he had not heard it.
And this morning his heart wore out.
Now we are sad, and no doubt countless others are too. But we are also thankful.
We are thankful that Brother Darlo and Miss Marie were the last people we said goodbye to in Ohio. That we got to hug his neck, cry on his shoulder while he cried on ours, and tell him we loved him and how thankful we were for all he had done for us. If he was here I would joke with him about how we didn't mean to break his heart when we left, and he would laugh until his eyes became moist with happy tears.
I know beyond all doubt that God allowed Brother Darlo to be a part of our lives for many reasons, and I am so very thankful for him being an extra grandpa to our kids. The highlight of their week was when the kids would come over and be spoiled beyond your wildest dreams, eating candy and watching a movie or three, and having pizza, and McDonald's, and. . . .
But we are most thankful that he was "Brother" Darlo.
You see, Brother Darlo had not always been the joy-filled man that we knew. We got to enjoy the best of Darlo. Back in West Virginia, between the sufficient meals and the hard labor, his mama told him about Jesus. About how one day, God would show him that he was lost and undone in his sins, and that he would need to go to Jesus in repentence so that he could get saved.
Darlo left West Virginia, joined the military, was married and raised a family, and had a successful business. He used to tell us about how one time he was working on a car and it slipped off the ramp and he could have been killed. What his mama told him never left him.
But it wasn't until he was 60, in the altar of a church that doesn't teach the knee-route way to salvation, that Darlo cried out to God for forgiveness and became "Brother Darlo".
At 60 is when Brother Darlo really, truly started to live.
He would weep with thankfulness at how God just blessed his soul while working alone in the garage. He would get happy when he did come to Liberty, and you could just tell that the Lord was filling him up with that "joy unspeakable and full of glory" that the scriptures talk about. He was brokenhearted about the years he wasted without salvation, and by all the "should have beens". But he was humbled by his God's graciousness to him, and wanted others to have the same. He was far from a perfect man, but he was perfected in the soul by the grace and mercy of God.
When I think of Brother Darlo being in a place now in perfect peace and love, I know he wouldn't leave if he could. We are not saddened by what happened to him. Paul said, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" There is no sorrow but for selfish pity, for losing a sweet light in this surrounding darkness, and for our inability to be there to soothe those back home.
Thank you God, for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for the love you shed abroad in our hearts, and help us heap it on each other. For it is a true testament to you and your abundant goodness and mercy towards mankind. You didn't have to bless us with Your love, but I am so very humbled and grateful that you have.
Love to you all----