Poetry of time

The foremost side of the handout card at the sign-in podium of the Smith Funeral Home, 1576 London Line, Sarnia, pictured Donald Edward van Goozen.

The flip side read verbatim: “Donald Edward van Goozen passed away peacefully with his loving family by his side on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at age 85. Survived by Shirley, his loving wife of 65 years. Loving father of Larry (Olga), Connie, Phyllis (Paul), Wanda (David) and Warren (Rain). Cherished grandfather of 18 grandchildren and 9, soon to be 10, great-grandchildren. Donald, a longtime resident of Sarnia, worked at Sarnia Hydro for many years. A longtime volunteer with many organizations, Donald was recognized in 2015 by the mayor of Sarnia for his 44 years of civic service. He lived his dream of having their home on the lake for over 38 years.”

The frequency of funerals at my age no longer tends to excite me. Time seems to stand still for no one.  The duration of the four-hour drive to, and the four-hour drive from, stirred a little concern, so it was decided that my first cousin, who still drives, with me riding shotgun to navigate, would go the day before the actual service. We arrived early with time to sneak an extended noonday snooze and were quite rested for the two-hour evening visitation.

Visitation was held again for a well-extended hour previous to the noon-day service and, believe me, a more pleasing sight could not be attained anywhere. Four generations of close relatives came flying in from clear across the continent. Mothers came to hug mothers, sisters and brothers. Their children came to hug nieces, nephews and no doubt kissing cousins.

But the greatest thrill of all was to see the great-grandkids, still shy, skirt hugging, but with inquisitive smiles from ear to ear, their whole life still ahead of them. The poetry of time rotates the population. When one leaves, another comes along to replace the departed.

As each and every one – family, friend and acquaintance – wandered into the place of worship where the service was to be held, I could not help but notice the diversity of time and generations. Looking across the heads of the collected congregation I could see many of the older with their heads leaning slightly forward with their hands folded as though in silent prayer.

The teenage generation and many of their young parents waited, too, with their heads leaning slightly forward, but one could tell by their eye movement that their thumb was dickering with one of the newest palm- held technological gadgets that have definitely changed the nation’s way of living.

Does this not tell you, me and the whole wide world that we have become worshipers of the creation rather than the creator?

Just in case you’re wondering, the thought may have crossed your mind; I’ll let you in on a little secret. Though I have been a brother to Shirley, Don’s wife, for the greater part of her life, she has been a sister to me, in fact, for all of mine.

Take care, ’cause we care.





Barrie Hopkins