From: William Gibbons Jr
Greetings to each of you,
With the advent of Facebook and its popularity, I have not endeavored to send a lot of family, or friend, information emails this past year. “Yes, I saw that on Facebook,” had become a much heard phrase, and although I am not personally on Facebook, it became comfortable for me to presume most other people were. At my aunt Ruth's funeral last week (Thursday, February 21st) in Flat Rock, I discovered there are indeed others in the family who are also not on Facebook. Some family members were unaware that uncle Tom had died in September 2015. So, I decided to do this email.
In preparation for consolidating our various lists (family
& friends, Christmas card, my atow/CBTC list, etc.) into a single email list
sometime in February, I reviewed my Outlook address book and have added some
of our relatives to this list. If you are receiving an email from me for the
first time, this is why. More explanation will come as I get closer to combining
Donna has a cousin who was born on the same day, and in the same hospital, as she was. Her cousin's mother died on January 22nd, so in addition to aunt Ruth's funeral week ago, we attended Cheryl Maier's funeral this past Wednesday (January 27th). Three funerals in the first month of a year is a unique start for 2016. I have not experienced it before in my life. I suppose at this age, I should get used to the likelihood that funerals will become more of the routine than the exception.
In my dad's family there are/were five brothers and sisters.
The picture below was taken at my grandmother Gibbons funeral of the five
of them. This is a scan of a 35mm print. My grandmother's funeral was June
18, 1989, long before I owned a digital camera. I shot one roll of film of
thirty-six negatives during the visitation. Four of the pictures were overexposed
and did not turn out. I have loaded the remaining thirty-two into Dropbox
on the Internet. I started the scanning process in 2014 for an email I sent
when aunt Betty died. I scanned 4 to 5 pictures at a time (the above picture
of the four deceased was one of those scans). Then I had to crop them
into individual images using one of my photo programs. I finally completed
the process late this afternoon (Thursday), two years later. Dropbox has a
free basic service. Toward the end of this email there will be a link to a
Dropbox folder where you can download the images in their larger scanned sizes
if you so desire.
(I have eliminated his address since my dad died later in the year on November 23, 2016)
I drove home from my aunt Ruth's funeral in the downriver Detroit area, but Donna drove on the way there. While she was driving, I had time to reflect and think about things. The next week, at Cheryl Maier’s funeral, several family members used the words “moved on” instead of died. I often use the word transitioned, which I like because it clearly indicates that death is not any sort of final ending. But on that drive, I was pondering how I do not think of Jerry, Betty, Tom, or Ruth, as being ‘gone.’ From an eternal perspective, death is no different than the fact we throw away our old clothes when we have worn them out from day to day use, a major change of jobs, moving to a new home, or the myriad of other changes which take place throughout our lives. Significant, yes, but not that exceptional when you consider all of the transitions we make even throughout (especially a long) life in this earth experience. For those of you whose lives engaged with each of them daily or regularly, there would certainly be a very large empty space where they were. But, for someone like me, who only occasionally crossed paths with Ruth, for instance, I do not experience her as being ‘gone.’ For me she is simply someplace else, no differently than if she were up north or still living in Trenton. I truly simply think of each of them as being someplace else. As I thought about that, I realized that in my belief system this was actually the truth. Each of them is simply someplace else. The difference, of course, is their someplace else now is not a place I can just drop in and visit.
I cannot say when it was that I crossed over to an eternal perspective, but it changes everything. I do not see myself approaching the end of life, but getting closer to a departure and continuance in a bigger life. Much like getting ready for an exceptionally long trip, regular daily activities are interspersed with things I would like to see completed before I leave. The tricky part, of course, is not knowing the exact departure date. But an eternal perspective puts a very different light on life.
There are two things I have come to believe very strongly after a lifetime of experiences and especially the past thirty-one years. The first is that there is definitely something greater and more powerful than us, natural laws, or chance, which created everything we deem real. I call that power God. I have come to believe that God, our Creator, is all about love. How that love plays out in practical applications is one of the big questions that constantly fuels new denominations and has created a multitude of differing doctrines and dogmas that can make your head spin when given full consideration. And, each denomination is convinced they are right. I do not know if I am right, but It does not make sense to me that a God who, in the person of Jesus, told us to forgive over, and over, and over again, would reject us because we did not get it right in this very short earthly life. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying Jesus does not matter. I still believe the most important choice you can make in this life is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, the One I deem to be the Christ (or ‘Anointed One’ as ‘Christ’ and ‘Messiah’ both translate). You just might need to ignore a whole bunch of denominational dogmas to get comfortable with such a choice. Still, I believe God's love is there waiting for each and every one of us to simply open our arms and accept it.
The very definition of the word eternal makes it a scientific fact. Something goes on forever, even if that something were nothing. The absurd proposition that we should exist at all, which is already a given, leads me to the second thing I believe strongly – that life continues on after what we call “death.” Hence, my use of the word transition. Three of the four Gospels in Scripture tell of the Pharisees and Sadducees trying to trick Jesus with their questions, one of which had him responding as follows . . .
. . . have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” — Matthew 22:31-32 (NIV)
. . . have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” — Mark 12:26-27 (NIV)
He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” — Luke 20:38 (NIV)
The above quotes are referencing the Old Testament encounter Moses had with God.
Then he said, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. — Exodus 3:6 (NIV)
We tend to see life in a very small framework. But we are
already a part of a bigger ongoing picture, whatever that picture might be.
‘Eternal life’ and ‘life’ are not two separate things. One rests within the
other. We are all someplace within the flow of life in God's love. Nothing
is lost. We will all ‘move on’ to a ‘next.’ I suspect we will all indeed be
crossing paths again as we continue the journey.
(Dropbox link was removed in 2021, as it had long since expired. However, the photos are still available in my inventory.)
I do not have everybody's email addresses, so please forward this email, or at least the Dropbox link, to the other members in your immediate family so it filters down to the younger generations, should they have any interest in them. I do not leave items permanently in Dropbox, but most of the folders remain for at least a month or so, usually until I have some other work which needs to be uploaded there. I would think it is better to receive two or three forwards of this email, than to not have known the pictures were available should someone have desired them.
The below poem was also part of my New Year's email to
the atow/CBTC mailing list. I am not sure why, but I decided to include
here as well, as a way of closing out this email. The poem also appears with
a number of others in my Poetry & Pictures book A Time To Mourn
on my website should you wish to avail yourself of, or share, that resource. Here
is a direct link:
My standard 'General Notes' followed my signature as with all my emails. They were eliminated here as outdated and for space considerations.