Give a Little Whistle

by Mary Johnson, Children's Ministry and Director All Thing Bright & Beautiful

April brings the sights and sounds and smells of spring into full existence. When there is that day in April that I notice the almost iridescent green buds on the trees I know spring is here. When the hyacinth that line the sidewalks emit the fragrance that is intoxicating - it's spring. And, when the cardinals sing their morning song, I sing back......just as my father did.

An incredibly vivid memory of my dad is his echoing the lively call from the cardinal in our yard. He was really good at it! The exchange would go on for quite some time - apparently neither one of God's creations willing to conclude the conversation. Perhaps the reason I am more sentimental about the whistling cardinal this year is because April 17 will mark the 100th birthday of my father. Hard to imagine him at such an age since he died so prematurely just weeks before his 64th birthday. It seems that there are so many celebrations of centennials these days. So why not my dad? When he died, I remember my sister Jeannie saying, "It's a good thing we don't get to choose when someone will die because we'd never let go." She's right. I'd always want one more Christmas, Easter, birthday celebration. One more show I was in that he was in the audience. And oh my goodness - if he could have met my two amazing daughters! Dad, aka "Papa," adored his grandchildren! It is just such a loss for me that he didn't get to celebrate my kids.

My father touched so many lives. Everyone loved Moe, as he was known. At his wake, the hundreds of people who lined up to pay their respects so often had a special memory of Dad: an act of kindness for which he would take no credit, a generous gesture to help someone in need, a great laugh that they shared with him. That was all very gratifying, but I wanted more. More years to make more memories. More hugs. More visits to see us in Chicago. And most especially - to know my girls.

But that wasn't the plan. So I have to turn to the hope that is Easter to ease the pain of his loss. The knowledge that with the resurrection comes the promise that we will see each other again. Not that we get to choose that time. Just having the promise is enough. In the meantime, I'll whistle to the cardinal every morning. And when I hear the reply, I'll give a little whistle in response and whisper "Love you Pops!"