Sandburford, signing off…
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.