A truly good death.

1 Jan

On December 20th, my wife and I drove down to Marlborough, Mass so that my boy could go to the Children’s hospital and my father-in-law Richard Arthur Brown could spend Christmas with his youngest daughter and youngest granddaughters. Richard had been living with us since April of 2012. The entire time he was with us he was in good humor and was a truly loving parent and grandparent. He focussed on getting good with his past, defeating the demons of war he had with him since coming out of Vietnam without his left eye, part of his skull and lots of hard memories. He focussed on getting in touch with his spirituality and the ancestors that he believed were waiting for him, particularly the Black Foot grandmother that had raised him. On Christmas night we drove back down because Richard had gone into the hospital. He had told us that his grandmother had told him that he would be passing into the summerlands after the solstice, and he was right.

He got a chance to kiss his grandchildren good bye and tell them how much he loved them. He said that it was the best Christmas and the best day. He called me his son and I will never forget the bravery, grace and love with which Richard went on to his reward. He was surrounded by his daughters and granddaughters who held him as he passed and I can’t believe that an event can make you cry for both happiness and grief. I suppose that moment is what makes us most human, and I am thankful for that, too. In response to his passing I wrote him the following message. I didn’t get a chance to read all of it at the ceremony because it was cold and I wanted to give him the Viking death chant which he had asked for as a send off. I will however post it below. His ceremony was lovely with good supportive friends and family and he got to cross off everything that he had wanted. Well, happy times to you, Richard, enjoy your rest and I look forward to seeing you again.


As I told you on that last day together, and I tell all who will hear:

I am honored to share your bloodline. As you are now the ancestor of my children you are now the ancestor of me. So I ask for your favor, I give thanks and I tell of you my wonder.

I pray for you to watch over our children, give them aide in their darkest moments and share in the hilarity of the golden times. Know from afar or near how you are woven into their lives for all time. I pray for you to remember us when we take that step to sit under the tree with you.

Richard, I give thanks to you and for you. You have brought such color and kindness into our lives. You made reconciliation and healed old wounds. You made right what was wrong with patient and loving strength. I thank you for rising to bid me farewell in the morning and to welcome me with questions from my long day. I thank you for being an example for how you cherished each smile and each shared moment. I give thanks for how much you loved our children. As you struggled to breathe, and faced the greatest journey without fear, you took the time to tell us of what was waiting for all of us. You showed us how happy and grateful love could make us. I thank you for surviving all of the darkness of war and the wounds therein so that I could have the greatest love I could ever know and have the ten brightest stars of children to love. Thank you for sharing our lives this past year, we will never forget you.

Richard I am astonished by you. I am astonished that you kept your failing body working by sheer force of will till all was mended and all was right. I am astonished by your bravery, your grace and the sheer force of your love. I am astonished by your message of unity that we have always shared, and we will know again in the time hereafter. I am astonished by you, for truly your life, your transformation and your passing tells us one thing; that surely the world is good, that man is good, and that love is truly all we will ever need. We love you.


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