It’s been almost two weeks since July 23rd, the day my father, Fredrick Jefferson Bell, or Fred J. Bell as he was know most of his life, went to his eternal reward.
His going was very peaceful with two of his children, their spouses, and some friends chatting and laughing in his room as he lay resting, mostly sleeping, in no pain, nor taking any pain medication, when he took two deep breaths, the second being his last. His passing wasn’t expected, nor was it totally unexpected. He was weeks short of ninety-two years old. 🙂
He had lived a lot of life! His was too large a life and legacy to describe meaningfully in a service or speech. 🙂 But I wanted to try to say something honoring at his home going service, if the Lord would help me and give me strength? At the same time I was completely at peace, knowing I didn’t need to say anything. Dad’s life had already said what needed to be said. Those present at the funeral knew it too, and were glad just to meet, honor his life and memory, and worship the King, Who guarded and guided Dad seemingly his whole life long.
If you would like, you can read the eulogy I read in tribute to Dad here.
When you’re almost ninety-two, most all your friends have preceded you in death, and funerals are fairly small affairs. There was a full house at Dad’s celebration as people came from far and wide. And a celebration it was; of a life well-lived, of friendship, of family, of belonging, of honor, of worship, of love.
I told some brothers at an early prayer and Bible study this morning, that I’ve been completely at peace, and completely happy during the whole time, very much sure that Dad is with Jesus, our Blessed Hope. Yet there is a hollow void of sorts that has me quietly looking and listening for revelation or anything the Spirit might show me? It’s a deeply reflective
time when you’re grateful for any strength your father poured into you, yet your human side feels something is deeply altered to some degree you cannot comprehend, or even give much thought to… Thought and the mind cannot probe deeply enough into the mystery of life and who we are? But it’s felt, maybe for a season, maybe for a reason? The Lord is near. In fact I told my spiritual brothers this morning a Scripture verse was ringing in my ears, “Love is as strong as death.” In fact, I feel love may be stronger than death, because I fear death not at all for myself or my family, or my believing friends. But I’m grateful for love and feel the love of my father extending beyond death into eternity in ways I can sense but not begin to know. It makes me happy. 🙂
On behalf of the family, I want to thank everyone who came to honor Dad, and for every thought, card, and expression of love or sympathy. You have proved healing and beautifully honoring. On that note I want to thank the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Honor Guard, for their travel, sacrifice, and the very touching way they honored and paid tribute to one of their own, Dad who honorably served the citizens of Arkansas as one of them for forty years.
There were also National Park Service Rangers and other law enforcement officers there to honor Dad and provided an impressive motorcade one hour north where he was laid to rest. About fifteen miles before the cemetery, very heavy rain storms blanketed the area all the way there making driving and seeing the car in front of you very difficult. Once at the cemetery for a few short minutes, the rains parted for about ten minutes, while there was a reading of Scripture, and one of the grandsons played “Amazing Grace” on the violin. Dad was then honored by a twenty-one gun salute, flag ceremony, and the honor guard bugler playing taps. It was deeply touching and silently moving beyond words… Very, very honoring. “All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.”
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17)
“… For love is as strong as death, … “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it; ” (Song of Solomon 8:6–7)
(View the cemetery service by clicking here.)