Heart-wrenching last days

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2011

As I sat pondering how to begin this column, my first since the Dec. 31 death of my beloved husband, Claude, my eyes fell on a list of confidence builders for writers taped on the side of my computer. One was titled “God Commands Me to Write,” and quoted Psalms 96:3: Publish his (God’s) glorious acts throughout the earth. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

God’s people have overwhelmed my family with his love through numerous acts of kindness. During Claude’s illness over the past few months, we were supported with prayer from not only the loving, caring members of First United Methodist Church of Andalusia, but by other people and churches as well.

After his passing, friends arrived at our door laden with gifts of food, paper goods, floral tributes, hugs, words of encouragement, shared memories, and assurances that they are here for us.

Our son’s co-workers in Louisiana kept in touch with him through e-mail while he was home at his dad’s side. They flooded him with expressions of sympathy when they learned of our loss. When he posted the news of his father’s death on the Internet through Facebook, words of sympathy poured in from his high school classmates.

Friends and acquaintances also reached out to our daughter and son-in-law though Facebook and telephone, and to our granddaughter, who came from Lexington, Ky., to be with her granddaddy and to support her mother, her uncle, and me during those last, heart-wrenching days when we knew his life was drawing to a close.

We had words of condolences and touching tributes from many who knew Claude when he taught ROTC at Andalusia High School; those who were among congregations of the churches he served; and from friends with whom he enjoyed playing the dulcimer.

I was so deeply touched by all of the expressions of love and sympathy mentioned above, along with the words spoken at Claude’s celebration of life by Rev. Tim Trent and Rev. Jim Bachelor along with the beautiful music.

When we returned home from the service, I found a sheet of theme paper taped to the storm door. It was addressed in a child’s handwriting, “To the Keenam family to all the Keenam family.” I opened the taped, folded sheet and read: “I really miss mr. Keenam you know that feeling I wish I could see him one more time is what I feel like…So I thank Melissa for writing all the things like 5 pieces of toast with different jam.” (During the service, our granddaughter read an essay she wrote in 2007 titled, “In a Granddaughter’s Eyes,” in which she mentioned the toast). The note continued, “I like his instrument.” (We had placed a dulcimer on the memorial table). The writer drew a cross and ended with: “these remind me about Claude. Love…”

Yes, we have an amazing God who provides us with wonderful friends who have enveloped us in love. Praise his holy name.