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Sandburford, signing off…

May 15, 2011

My father in law Garry, would frequently sign off his emails to me with the closing  “Sandburford on the Chowan”, a humorously assuming regal notion of  a named estate with exclusivity of location.    In truth, the family home is a brick ranch built on a double lot of very sandy soil near the Chowan river.  The sand presents a haven for sand burrs and a challenge to anyone who endeavors to transform the patches of wire grass into a lawn.  Over the years, Garry bested both the sandburrs and the yard, and as was his nature, found humor and humility in his struggles with both.

Today, I’m sitting on a couch and coming to terms for myself that Garry has signed off from Sandburford for the last time  Tuesday, May 10th, 2011.  He had been diagnosed with a form of leukemia in 2010 and for many months, despite a decidedly uncertain long term outlook, things had seemed almost normal.  Christmas, full of laughter and merriment with family now seems so long ago.   A series of infections, that neither antibiotics nor his depleted immune system could shake off,  took their toll through March and April.  These past few months seemed a roller coaster of small recoveries and declines.    In contrast, the last week was an inevitable stair step of transition, and his last days and hours passed peacefully in sleep.

Many things made an impression on me these last days, and perhaps one of the most compelling was the number of people who came forward to pay their respects,  lend their support to the family,  and share personal stories of memorable times with Garry.   Everyone brought food – so much so that the refrigerator, counters tops, and even freezer were overflowing.  Fried chicken, baked chicken, rotisserie chicken, chicken casserole.   Apparently,  chicken is the official bird of bereavement.

Over the years, Garry shared his thoughts and experiences about his faith and his impression of what exists beyond our days here.  I know this has brought many of those thoughts to the forefront of my mind, to inspect my beliefs, and to question again what I hold true and whether I am fulfilling my proper course in life.  As most, I hope we will all be reunited again one day hence.

Until then, I can still see and remember Garry in his many works  including many parts of our home.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Lee permalink
    May 16, 2011 12:48 pm

    My condolences, Mark. Louise’s dad passed away a couple of months ago. It’s hard to see the older generation go.

  2. May 16, 2011 4:10 pm

    My Sincere condolences,Mark.

    Some people create a lasting impression in our lives. I was 16 years old in 2002 when I lost my grandmother.She peacefully passed away in her sleep on an afternoon. She groomed me with moral values and encouraged me to adapt technology at an early age when my parents were quite apprehensive about the same.At times, I feel she would have been so happy to see me as I am today.We my loose people in the transition of life,but the good times we had with them will always be eternal.

  3. May 17, 2011 9:36 pm

    There never are apropriate words for this circumstances. Let me just tell you you and your wife are in my thoughts.

    May the good memories live forever!

  4. Elaine permalink
    May 19, 2011 10:54 am

    Mark, beautiful and loving thoughts – with a little humor thrown in for good measure. Sounds like the recipe for a life well lived. We will always remember him and his thoughtful and kind ways of showing his love for us.

  5. May 23, 2011 7:55 pm

    Mark –

    It was fun to work with the guy when we were building your house. I really liked him. I know that “nobody gets out alive”, but I will miss him.

    Jim

  6. May 27, 2011 12:43 pm

    I’m so very sorry to hear this, Mark. You and your wife are in my thoughts.

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