The Circle of Life

(Please excuse me in not posting these past months– I have started and picked up this post a dozen times and until today, have not been up to completing it.)

The last three months–March, April and May– have been a whirlwind of activity from leaving to be with my daughter and son-in-law to be at the delivery of my first grand baby to spending six weeks with them after the baby’s birth to working for several weeks in Louisiana to rushing back to Dallas to getting a same day passport for my grandson (not an easy task), so my daughter, grandson and I could fly out to be with my Father before he passed.

Waiting for take-off with my beautiful daughter and grandson.

Unfortunately, we were unable to make it back to Panama before my Fathers spirit departed his body, as he died the same night we flew out of Dallas.

The biggest heartbreak in it all was not having the opportunity to introduce my Father to his first great-grandson and namesake-Gabriel ‘Lee’.

My Father had told my Mother just a day or two before he died, how he wanted to hold and ‘kiss that baby’ and gave my Mother explicit instructions for his care and made sure she had everything readied for Gabriels visit.

We really tried to make it in time, Dad. I wanted you to be able to have Gabriel in your arms– if just once–for a moment, before you left us… I am sorry.

My Father– Lee Gilbertsons Funeral

I have placed these pictures here for all the family and friends back home, who I know would have been here with us, but could not because of the many miles between us at this time…

For me it was an unreal day–It felt like I was moving in slow motion.

I can remember the different sounds– the tropical birds singing happily from the safety of the dense green trees, the far off wailing through the breeze of a radio playing fiesta time music, the speaker giving the eulogy, muffled somewhere in the background–

I can remember the different sights–watching two dogs playing and running over a portion of the green grass not more than 50 ft from where I stood–healthy, happy and alive… And seeing the four freshly earth covered graves in line with my Fathers and wondering who they were and how their families and loved ones were coping and sending prayers to all of them…

I remember the different feelings–the warm embraces from all the Panamanian friends of my Fathers–as they came to me one by one, each whispering soft comforting words in my ear in their native tongue –not understanding the Spanish words with my head, but understanding every word with my heart. Each and everyone of my Fathers friends to me were the voice and embodiment of God on earth, giving us strength and solace and support on such a challenging day.

And most of all I remember the knowing this day would come, but praying it never would.

My Father– Lee, was buried in a small little graveyard in Chiriqui Province dedicated to the working common people, as we knew he would never want to be buried in the other cemetery in town used exclusively for the wealthy.

Our friend, Cove led the service in Spanish and then in English,  speaking a few words about Lee and his life and shared several  passages of inspirational Scripture with us.

Everyone was able to share a few words about how Lee touched their lives. My daughter shared with how much my Father, was more than a grandfather in her eyes, but like a Father in her life and how much that meant to her.

My Mother tossing a single red rose a top my Fathers simple pine casket before the burial.

 The Burial .

The men take turns shoveling dirt, showing respect and honor to Lee and his family.

Supporting each other.

 Roses laid on the grave– It is finished.

I just want to thank all of you dear ones, for your dear thoughts, prayers and support for the last year. It has meant so much to us.


P.S. And a deep heartfelt  thanks goes out to my parents friends, Cove and Bethany and family, who handled everything before and after my Father passed–They handled the multiple dealings with the health department, brought food, organized the neighbors, the funeral arrangements and much much more.

P.S.S. And a special note of thanks to my Aunt Karen, my Fathers sister, who lovingly put together an obituary  in the Seattle Times, to help bring closure to all the family and friends back home.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26