I’ll Meet You In the Morning

A funeral or memorial service for a loved one is filled with many emotions and can be so hard but it is also so good.  It makes you pause and ponder life. You grieve the passing of life and mourn the deep sense of loss but it is also a time to reflect on the specialness of the person who has died.  I usually leave the service with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. Hope that believes God is who He says He is.  Hope in the reality of eternity in heaven for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.  Hope that my life here on earth has purpose and meaning.  And a profound realization of the impact my life has on my circle of friends.

Merlin and Gladys

Recently we laid to rest a dear saint, Gladys Harman.  If you ever met Merlin and Gladys, you loved them.  You loved them because they loved you. Let me tell you a little bit about these kind-hearted, gentle farmers.

Harman Family

(Merlin and Gladys with their offspring; three children (Keith, Cynthia & Susie, their spouses and grandchildren)

 

Their farm, aptly named Mountain Breeze, is nestled at the foot of Little North Mountain.

Mountain Breeze Farm

If you followed the winding, curving road from their farm for several miles along the foothills there is a little church called  Zion Hill. This is where I first met Merlin and Gladys when I was just a young tyke about 4 years old. Our families were friends and we worshipped together every Sunday. They loved the earth;  Merlin was a dairy farmer and Gladys had a huge garden and well-kept flower beds that completely surrounded the old farm house with a huge porch and the white fence surrounding the yard. She was a good cook and knew how to butcher and can vegetables and fruits. And Gladys could make awesome homemade doughnuts, Sunshine Chiffon cake and potato chips. Occasionally our family would join them in their old wash house in the back yard where we fried lard cans full of golden, crispy chips in a big cast iron pot.  She used lard which came from butchering hogs.

One of my favorite stories about Gladys (I was too young to remember it happening) was when their oldest son was a tiny baby.  One Sunday evening they put the baby to bed and went to church.  Once there, people started asking where the baby was. Gladys matter-of-factly stated that he was asleep at home in bed.  It was his bedtime so she just put him to bed. The reaction of people made her start to worry and by the time the service was over she was anxious to hurry home. Needless to say, she never did it again!

Sometime after Gene moved to Powhatan from Newport News, he started going to Harrisonburg on his weekends off. He knew John Carl and Jewel Shenk and started hanging out at their place.  John Carl was from Newport News (Gene’s home area) and Jewel was Merlin’s sister. They lived in the tenant house on Mountain Breeze Farm.  (John Carl and Jewel were actually responsible for getting Gene and I together).  Gene would usually spend time at the farm, hanging out with Merlin while he fed cows and milked.  They developed a long-lasting friendship and as time went on, Merlin and Gladys became his home away from home.

When Gene asked me for our first date he had a brand-new, sporty, 1970 Ford Torino car.  It was a dark emerald green with a hood scoop.  Merlin’s young son, Keith, was given the job of washing the car. Keith sprayed water into the hood scoop and the car refused to start. Gene ended up driving Merlin’s blue Buick sedan, arriving at my house an hour late!  Their son, Keith, became the name sake of our first son.

One time Merlin and Gladys came to see us and help make chips.  Merlin spied my cast iron bell that I wanted to put on my deck but I did not have the mounting hanger. He stirred around in Gene’s scrap metal pile and found a discarded pair of “hip hooks”. This is a contraption that you put over the hip bones of a cow that goes down and needs help getting up. You can fasten the front-end loader of the tractor to the hooks and lift the cow to her feet.  Merlin went into the shop and it wasn’t look until he emerged with a perfect bracket for my bell.

Snow-backyard-Feb2006

An now, 42 years later, we celebrate her life. We remember…. and in our grief we rejoice in her glorious homegoing.  I love one of the songs sung at her memorial service; “I’ll Meet You in the Morning”.  Oh the blessed hope of seeing our loved ones again.  But until then, she is enjoying true bliss in the presence of Jesus, whom she dearly loved.

“I’ll Meet You in the Morning”

I’ll meet you in the morning by the bright riverside
When all sorrow has drifted away
I’ll be standing at the portals when the gates open wide
At the close of life’s long dreary day.
I’ll meet you in the morning with a how do you do
And we’ll sit down by the river and with rapture old aquaintance renew
You’ll know me in the morning by the smile that I wear
When I meet you in the morning in the city that’s built four square.
I will meet you in the morning at the end of the way
On the streets of that city of gold
Where we all can be together and be happy always
While the years and the ages shall roll.
I’ll meet you in the morning with a how do you do
And we’ll sit down by the river and with rapture old aquaintance renew
You’ll know me in the morning by the smile that I wear
When I meet you in the morning in the city that’s built four square.

*****

Glady’s Doughnut recipe.

 

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1 Comment »

  1. Thanks Pat. This is really special!! Cynthia

    Like


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