Between the Ashes- A Poem For My Father

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My father died on Ash Wednesday (February 18, 2015).  I wrote this poem in his honor at the celebration of his life on February 28.  I have many memories of my father. But in the last days as he made his journey home, I have two new very cherished ones. First, as his faculties diminished and he could barely speak or respond, he remained crystal clear about 3 things: his name, his wife’s name and the Lord’s Prayer which he would spontaneously utter.

And secondly, on Ash Wednesday I was privileged- after having received my own ashes in the hospital chapel that late afternoon- to take the ashes from my forehead, and put on my mother’s who never left my father’s side, and my father’s as he took his last few breaths.  And I repeated the words, “Remember we are dust and to dust we must return.” Ashes to Ashes.

I feel he would have comforted me by saying that what really is important is what happens between the ashes.

Keith S. Panton 11/2/35-2/18/15)

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Between the Ashes

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16 responses »

  1. Hello Beth, Thanks for sharing. I was going to ask you for copy. Very touching poem and speech. I hope that one day I will be just a great writer and person as you are. Love you! Tish

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Dear Beth,

    Your moving thoughts helped heal my heart from having lost my mother, not quite a year ago.

    Michael…from LaGrange

    • Thank you Michael. I’m glad these words were healing for you. I am sorry for your loss and pray for you continued healing and joy.

  3. huummmm..solid was the man
    at home or Alcan
    He and Miss Babs what a pair
    strong love so dear
    mass tomlin he would say
    with that smile, like a full day’s pay
    what a man what a man
    oh whata Missa Panton
    What a calling you fa?
    We miss you sah

  4. Hi Beth…I’m so happy you posted this so quickly! Your words are beautiful and masterfully capture the essence of your father and what it felt like to be in his presence. Thank you for sharing and also, thank you for listening. Love and blessings!

    • Thanks Krystal, happy to share. And thank you for sharing also. I hope you know that your words and story matter. Love and blessings to you too, beautiful!

  5. Dear Dr. Beth-Sarah Wright, your words and actions for your dear dad on Ash Wednesday were as special as can be… to receive Ashes as you did at the hospital and then go and share them with your dad and mom…was mighty precious..the dearest thing i can imagine.
    Then your words about what he did and what we do “between the ashes”…made me smile and think of a dear friend who has not breathed our air since April; 2006; in fact her Birthday is (was) today. (that’s the way God works for me all the time.) Rhea had sent me an e-mail years before, about what we do “between the dash”- (in the cemetery, on a tombstone, we see the date of life and death and the dash in between.that was an eye-opener for me..how important it is to make a difference here on earth.) Yours, however, was holy.
    Your poem to your mom and dad is beautiful and brilliant.
    Thinking of you and keeping your family in my prayers.
    I know you miss your beloved dad.
    hugs..

    • Thank you so much Hebe for your kind words, prayers and thoughts. You are lovely! Blessings to you as you remember your dear friend, Rhea.

  6. I want to say how sorry I was to hear that Uncle Keith passed on Ash Wednesday. I know that from the words of your poem, you are not mourning, but reliving the man who was your and was
    highly respected and loved by many, and totally loved by his family. Please pass on to Babs my condolences and to the rest of the family.

    • Thanks Marjorie. You are correct, we are saddened yet rejoicing in the life and light and memories of my father. Thanks be to God! I will certainly pass on your condolences. Blessings!

  7. Winsome Harris on March 9, 2015 at 5:18 PM said

    I am very sorry for your lost Beth. I never had the pleasure of meeting you, but I am a old friend of your Dad and a cousin of your Mom. Thanks for the lovely Poem

    • Thank you Winsome. His going to his heavenly home is a loss for us all. Yet we can rejoice and be comforted by our memories of him. Love to you.

  8. Absolutely beautiful. “What really is important is what happens between the ashes.” will forever be etched into my spirit. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and sacred period.

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