A life lived well, a loss overcome, a love that remains

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Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone.

Video: Kirby's Augusta
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-- C.S. Lewis

Love endures. Love returns. Love is magic.

I know because of stories such as this.

First of all, let me tell you that my wife's Uncle Ernie died last week. A good man, who lived a long life and was no doubt playing golf in heaven moments after his last breath on earth.

He was almost 90 and had been hurting for some time with a variety of ailments that all seemed to get worse after he fell and broke his hip Christmas Day.

"I'm ready to go," he said from his holiday hospital bed, "but you all keep praying me back."

And they certainly did.

Over the past three months, the good Lord has probably heard thousands of times from Merle -- Ernie's wife of more than six decades, from his three daughters, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his church and an extended family that could and eventually did fill a church sanctuary at his funeral.

"We know you love him," they all would pray, "but we love him, too. Just let us keep him a little longer."

Oh, that we all could live a life like that, special to almost everyone we meet.

He died at home, going gently in his bed in the presence of his wife, daughters and his little dog Joy.

The arrangements had long been made, the family gathered, the funeral was large and joyous and his grandchildren offered flawless eulogies. There was the sadness every funeral has, but also the certainty that he was enjoying a glorious reward for a life well lived.

Now here is where the story gets interesting.

Years ago, Merle had given Ernie a monogrammed ring. It was a unique and beautiful bit of jewelry. Several months ago, Ernie lost the ring while out in the garden, no doubt fixing flowers for Merle.

They looked. They looked again. They rented a metal detector. But the ring remained missing. Merle bought a replacement, but she said it just didn't look as good as the first one.

The lost ring became a minor family fable, but few talked about it anymore, certainly not at the house where everyone returned after the funeral luncheon. The adults went inside to rest from the day's emotional toll, and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren went, as children do, outside to play.

That's what they were doing in the gardenia bed when one of them found a ring. The ring.

They couldn't wait to show their great-grandmother, who couldn't believe it.

Frankly no one could. But it's true.

She put it on her finger.

Later she told us, that night, her first night at home after burying her husband of 62 years, she would grasp the ring when she felt lonely.

There it was, the special gift bought by the wife, who gave it to her husband, who lost it tending flowers for her, only to have it found by their great-grandchildren so it could provide comfort on her darkest night.

Love endures. Love returns. Love is magic.

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trucksareforgirlz
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trucksareforgirlz 04/20/08 - 08:42 am
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What a wonderful read! My

What a wonderful read! My grandparents (both maternal and paternal) reached 60+ years of marriage. Through all the "ups and downs" in their lives, I, too, was blessed to see first hand how "love endures, love returns, and love is magic." Thank you for such a heart-warming story, Mr. Kirby! Your story brought back a flood of wonderful memories of my grandparents, long gone from this life, but not from my heart.

Seashells
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Seashells 04/20/08 - 03:42 pm
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I enjoyed this story very

I enjoyed this story very much. My parents were married 50 years. Three months later my father died of alzheimers. My mother kept him at home for almost 8 years caring for him everyday.
I cried when I read your story.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 04/20/08 - 05:27 pm
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This touched my heart. I

This touched my heart. I just came back from spending the day with my dad at his home, the first day he has been at home since January. There were weeks he did not open his eyes, even though he did sit up and eat, he was barely functioning. He went through a frightening bout with pneumonia, and he hasn't been himself since a reaction to a heart dye a few years ago, but I picked up a ping pong paddle today and we played ping pong! He was hitting volleys back to me, whereas earlier he could barely make it into the carseat or up the one step onto the porch. We find little joys every day. It is exhausting emotionally and physically for his main caregiver, my mom and each of us when we help them, but that's what love does. We find joy in the simplest things. That ring was meant to show up the way it did, and at the time it did. It helped bond that family's generations closer together. And so has this for my family.

Son of God
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Son of God 04/21/08 - 12:11 am
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May God continue to bless you

May God continue to bless you and your family. Your husband has done an excellent job while on this earth and you are a wonderful wife. may God send the husband of my life so that we can praise God together and give thanks in everything like you two did.What an awesome and hearttouching story.

toppergem
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toppergem 04/21/08 - 07:24 am
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A heartwarming story. It

A heartwarming story. It made me think of my father who died twelve years ago. His was a beautiful life that touched so many people also.

mnm
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mnm 04/21/08 - 08:51 am
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My parents were married 60

My parents were married 60 years before my mother passed 5 years ago. They had 6 kids, 1 who died in Vietnam. Their life was full of struggle but on their 50th anniversary, my dad bought her an anniversary ring (gorgeous). My mother adored it and wanted it on her finger into eternity. Well, my mom had eye surgery and my dad put that ring in his pocket and lost it. About four years later, after my mom had passed and my dad had moved in with me, my son borrowed my Dad's car and had a blowout and ended up straddling the ditch and thank God, kept control of the car. When he got home, he went to my Dad with something he found in the car, Mom's anniversary band. We had had this car professionally detailed several times and the ring was never spotted. My Dad told my 16 year old son that day that the ring showed his Grandma was in that car with him keeping him safe and wanted to let all of us know she still watches over us. Mom left me all her jewelry in her will (I'm the baby!) and I cherish this ring above all else, it was Mom saying she is still here!!!

condelieeza
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condelieeza 04/21/08 - 11:27 am
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mr bill is the best thing

mr bill is the best thing going for the augusta chronicle. that man deserves a raise. massa willie, cut the check !!

jnjones
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jnjones 04/25/08 - 07:37 pm
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Bill, It's Jared Jones, for

Bill,
It's Jared Jones, for those who read the comments, one of the many grandchildren of Ernest Groman aka - POP. I first would like to thank you for the sweet article that you wrote about Pop. My wife, Allyson, just received an email the other day regarding this article and shared it with me today. It's really neat that your article about Pop can touch so many lives, which I can tell by reading the comments from others. What a great man Pop was and he will be missed, but I know without a doubt, he's in a better place. A place that he so desired to be while in his last days here on earth. Thanks again for the article and putting a smile on my face as well as for the other family members that read it.

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