Another Horizon

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When my sister, Gretchen, died in a fire, the family immediately gathered in Springfield, Missouri.  Since I had just received a new certification as a reverend, I was the designated moderator of the memorial.

The night before the service, my dad came into my hotel room and said, “Steph, there’s something I want you to read.  You know I don’t ask for much but I’m asking for this.”  He pulled out his wallet and thumbed through decades of precious little pieces of soiled papers, unfolding, reading and folding them back up.  I never saw him as an old man until that moment, slow and broken because his youngest went before him.  Finally, he came to THE one.  “They read this at my friend’s funeral, Steph, and I want you to read it tomorrow.  And don’t argue with me”  He handed me the faded limp text, I took it from him, squinted at the type, and unbeknownst to either of us, it was the same poem I had brought with me to read.

Once again, it’s time to read it, this time for my dad, Sol Urdang:

June 21,1923 – July 19, 2013

Poem. The Ship, by Charles Henry Brent
What is dying?

I am standing on the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her
until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle
with each other.
Then someone at my side says: ‘There! She’s gone.’
Gone where? Gone from my sight that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she
was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living
freight to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her;
and just at the moment when someone at my side says:
‘There! She’s gone,’
there are others watching her coming,
and voices ready to take up the glad shout
‘There she comes!’
And that is dying.

 

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May Dad’s journey be met with loving arms.

I’d like to think the woman in the red dress that Dad saw on his ceiling Thursday night was Gretchen, waiting for him, as he began to sail to the other side.

Dad& KU portrait 2011 copy

in red copy

21 thoughts on “Another Horizon

  1. Dear Stephanie, Your words in tribute to your loving father are beautiful. I would like to express my sincere condolences to and your family for the loss of your dear father. May you always be comforted by those who love you and in his loving memories. I feel I have gotten to know him a little though all you wonderful accounts of him. Love, Amy

  2. My heart is with you, Stephanie. That is the same poem we put in my mother’s memorial card. Maybe she also met him, eager to discuss our new friendship and compare notes on “the kids”…. What beautiful tributes you have made to him in your column….and shared with all of us. Thank you.
    Love and peace to all of you. Scottie

  3. STephanie. Your Dad died. My warmest most beautiful thoughts are with you and your family Stephanie. I know your relationship was a complicated one and I know you feel this loss. I feel so shocked for some reason. When you talked about him it seemed as if he was just going to go on and on for awhile. I guess when someone leaves it is always surprising somehow. Leaving this world is so very significant and it is so deeply sad to say that last goodbye. I love you Stephanie and you took wonderful care of your father . I know you knew this day would come and you wanted to love him and care for him as well as was possible and you did do that. Thinking about you , the poem, your sister and life. love Saundra

  4. Stephanie, my heart goes out to you on the loss of your dad. No matter how much you think you have prepared yourself you are not ready. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers in the coming days. I too would like to think the woman in the red dress was Gretchen, and the reunion on the other side joyous. Love to you, Melanie and Nathan. Dolores

  5. I am truly saddened to learn of you father’s passing, what with you’re comments and reference to “the Village” I felt as if I had spent time with him when I visited my mother. The special remarks from your sisters service were beautiful and just perfect. Be strong.

  6. Stephanie, I am so sad to hear of Sol’s passing. I loved the poem and I trust his leaving was peaceful. For the departed death solves it’s own problems and I truly believe that “greater is the day of death”. It’s we who are left that have to make sense of the loss and confusion but I know you’ll find peace in your memories of him.

  7. Stephanie
    This poem never fails to resonate the physically untouchable sadness of loss & the exquisite beauty of Life’s breath.
    Dear, my deepest heartfelt condolences to you & your family.
    I too have felt a certain getting to know your father for he has been close to your heart & mind in your sharing of his twilight days.
    I love and subscribe to the picture of your dear baby sister & your father meeting in the fold of the great transition. How lovely & beautiful & mysterious.
    my heart extends to yours as I leave Paris behind me today & venture into the land of Hollond.
    With Light With Love With Remembrance,
    Christi

  8. Steph, I am so sorry for your loss. I read this today remembering the horrible news of Gretchen’s death and hoping your Dad, Sol, went peacefully. Your blog brought the memory of my brother’s passing seeing a woman we all felt like was Allyson, his youngest who died several years before him, there to help him cross over. My thoughts are with you during this sad time.

  9. Stephanie, many loving thoughts are being sent to you during this sad time in your life. I feel as if I knew your father through your written word, and I enjoy being a part of your world as you share poignant memories of life, love, and now loss. Peace and love to you always! Cindy

  10. Stephanie,
    I was saddened to read of your father’s passing, saddened to that I never had a chance to meet him more than a very few times. He was a most interesting person, from the Edsels to the burial at sea. Nice poem. Softens the load and provides hope. Carry on. Ron

  11. Stephanie,and Family
    I knew your Dad and worked with him for over 40 years Sol and Henry Shared the Condo with our family and our daughters visited from the time they were toddlers to spending there high school graduation and Honeymoons at 407A a piece of heaven on earth the Urdangs are the most generous people you will ever meet Sol had a zest for life and over the years he shared a lot of his wisdom with me I was blessed to know him and the family I am a better person for knowing Sol When we moved into our new home he came over and gave it the Jewish blessing

    • Kim, That poem is somehow most comforting and the line you quote above is profound. Anyone who has experienced loss will so feel that in their soul.
      I had publishing trouble with that post, it split text and yet the draft looks perfect, I tried copying it onto a doc and it was perfect too, but when it went back into the wordpress template:split. I decided since dealing with tech issues is not interesting to me, and since I couldn’t fix it, that the split is a symbol that I am forced to live with right now. One of the many thems of
      grief.

  12. Hi Stephanie,

    Yes, I was referencing the C.H. Brent Poem. What I love about you and your blog is how you look at the people, places and things around you and see all of the symbolism
    and the inner-connectivity of it all. You are a special person because you see the essence of things and then have the ability to write the words that pull it all together.
    You have had an incredibly diverse life, involved in many things and now the benefits of those experiences are paying off big time.

    All the best to you!

    I tried to respond to your comment on the Center website but it came back as undeliverable

    sincerely,

    Mike

    • Thank you so much, Mike! There are benefits to being older, a galvanizing effect of experience and expression being one. And thank God they invented blogs so I have a place with readers for these creative musings, a reason to take even more photos, a fine format to apply my observations. I so appreciate my readers and their comments, and am touched by the fact that after all these years, the connection of our history comes full circle.

  13. I find it interesting your blog first thing I see this morning because Sol came to me in my dreams last night, We were at one of our laundry and textile meetings and I didn’t know anyone but him and everyone was around his table and he was telling stories and making jokes while networking. when I got closer he looked like he did in the late 80’s and 90’s and he looked at me like he always did and said ” how’s it going Bobby ” always called me Bobby. I miss him and all the great times we had.

    • Bob: I haven’t dreamt about him yet, am glad to hear he’s up to traveling through people’s sleep communication. I dreamt a lot about my mother when she passed, so hope that Dad shows up tonight. thanks so much for your comment.

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