I recently was blessed to read a poem that my grandmother Pansy had written in memory of her son,and my uncle, Lee (Buddy) Cox. He died while serving his country in 1945. My grandmother passed away 15 years later, just months before I was born.
Her poem is entitled “Opening Memory’s Book.” It was first published by this paper soon after Lee was killed. It is my privilege to share it with you now.
“Today, son, I opened memory’s book,
And scanned each tear stained page anew,
I lived again those treasured years,
The years we had with you.”
“I hold you gently to my breast
As I did when first your life began,
My cup of joy, running o’er,
To hold my precious, tiny son.”
“I walk with you, your “toddler years”,
The years of one, two, three,
A kiss to soothe a tiny bumped-up nose,
Or “make well” a little banged-up knee.”
“Four, five, six - you’ve sturdier grown,
I wave you proudly off to school,
Your sandpile, building blocks, fairy-tale years have flown.
Now you must heed another’s rule.”
“Seven to twelve, oh fleeting years!
Each day crowded with such fun.
Ecstasies of boyhood, space would not allow me
To recount them, one by one.”
“But there were marbles, kites and ball,
Cowboy and Indian and tents in which to spend the night.
With any of the “gang,” or all,
And so morning broke — a pillow fight. “
“Teen age, a new threshold opens for you,
This span in life’s bridge, you build with caution and care.
This world is so different, vast and new
Opportunity, achievements, a future so promising awaits out there.”
“Eighteen - man’s estate! All plans aside
You answer your country’s call,
And march so bravely off to war,
Still our baby - just in stature grown tall.”
“Then your cherished letters come
In their almost childish sprawl,
Beginning with “Dear Folks”, and always ending
With “Be good, and God bless you all”.”
“Oh, son, if I could here close this book,
That marks one span in your life’s bridge, of man’s allotted three score years and ten,
And keep this material in your youth
Intact — until you return to your building again.”
“But God in His wisdom, deemed it not best.
Eyes, tear- dimmed, we face reality.
“We regret to inform you “ — No, Dear God!
And then our Gethsemane.”
“Oh, Builder, Supreme, though who dost build
Thy kingdom with infinite care,
We know thou must gather these precious treasures below
To use in thy building up there.”
“And so, darling son, down through the years
Until my life’s sun is set,
I’ll live anon these years with you
For a mother never forgets.”
This weekend we set aside time to honor and to mourn the many who have lost their lives while serving our country. Unofficially, the days also mark the beginning of summer and are widely celebrated as such.
It is a dichotomy worth pondering and one the poem so eloquently, yet subtly expresses.
This weekend is a time to remember and to reflect. But amidst the heartache, it can also be a time to rejoice. As the poem releases its sorrows, it also whispers its hope:
“He is not the God of the dead but of the living, because all are living to him.” Luke 20:38