Saturday, March 04, 2006


Truman was a quiet, elderly man who often sat beside me at church. He was a lifelong resident of our community, except for the six years he spent in the Navy right after high school. He cared about everything and everyone and was such a dear spirit.

I remember visiting him in the hospital a few years back, holding his hand and talking softly about all that was going on at home.... and sneaking up to the doorway of his little apartment in town with a May Day basket, hoping he would understand the sentiments and tradition behind its contents. He was the kind of man we all respected, strived to be like, loved.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke with his brother, Ralph, who told me that Truman was beginning to slip away. The Parkinson's Disease had taken over and his recent home had been the Hospice Care Center. His 87th birthday was approaching and his children had requested a card shower for him. Though I had known about it for a few days, it was awhile before I took the time to pen him this letter:

Dear Truman,

This card may arrive late with its birthday wishes, but please know that they are sincere and heartfelt.
Though I haven't expressed it in words, I have thought of you so often over these past few months. Your presence is missed in church and around the community, by many.

If someone were to ask me, "Who is the hub that turns the wheel of our town?" I would answer, "Truman". You were one of the first faces that became familiar to me after we moved to this community; a face, I soon learned, that belonged to a very gracious and caring man.

I grew accustomed to seeing you on the pew next to me: a quiet presence with a great soul. You spoke more to our hearts through your gentle ways than many can express through loud proclamations. And your message of grace and kindness was clear. You have truly been an example of how God wants us to treat each other.

Several years ago I saw a black and white photograph of a town parade with a strong, young man leading it. Years flew by and things changed, but the leadership of a man named Truman remained constant.

How wise your mother must have been when she gave you your name, for you are indeed a ' True Man' - the essence of what God intended for us all.

Happy Birthday, Truman! With Love and Blessings....

My words were too late. On February 22, Truman turned 87 years old.....and then gracefully slipped into his new life. My unopened card came back in the mail where it sits on the kitchen countertop as a reminder that I hesitated too long. It will be awhile before I forgive myself for sitting on my words.

The Saturday before his passing, I wrote about cleaning at the school and how a certain song, "Make Me Have the Mind of Christ" had spoken so strongly to my heart. As I sat at Truman's service exactly one week later, the minister left us with a Bible verse that described how this man lived his life. It was Philippians 2:1-11: The Mind of Christ.

He didn't read them on this earth, but perhaps somehow Truman felt my words..... and let me know through God, that he had heard me afterall.


Anonymous said...

I pray that Truman will receive these words as well as the grace from the community the he called his home where he is now.

alan said...

I hadn't planned on crying this morning...your words always reach so deeply inside me!

He knows, my friend, he knows...

And another old sailor is very touched that you would go so far out of your way and care so much about another!

Thank you!


srp said...

I think one of the wonderful things about heaven is the ability to know the hearts of those we left behind. How awesome to know this, but without any of the regrets we have here on earth. Prayers to the family of your friend and to you for your loss.

Mellissa said...


I have the distinct feeling that this man knew so well your feelings for him.

You are so giving and so loving that it stretches out - not only to those in your community, but to us far across this nation.

Perhaps you will bring this card to Truman's gravesite when you pay your respects to him again...which I know you will.

Much love dear friend,


Pete Mitchell said...

I think Mellissa has the right idea. Leave the card at his gravesite when you visit. And your love and spirit reach even beyond the nation.

And don't judge yourself too harshly for your physical words being delivered too late. Alan is right. He knows.

And "gracefully slipped into his new life" is one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever come across. I will remember that always. Thank you.

It's been rough for you lately. Know that you're in our thoughts daily.


Networkchic said...

From where he's sitting, he doesn't need ears to listen...he feels everything. Great post.

Jacqueline said...

Bless you, Lori. Your kind and compassionate gestures will move others to embrace the mind, light and power of Christ!
Great post!