The longer you are in this life, the more people you know who pass out of it. It is one of the hardest things about getting older.

He held my mother’s arm as she walked down the aisle on her wedding day. He held me twenty-eight years ago when I was baptised. Saturday, leaving a body that could no longer fight the cancer that consumed it, he let go.

You would have like him. He had a ’65 ford pickup, powder blue, the color of my junior prom dress. At my christening, he promised to be a guiding hand in my religious life, instead, he simply taught me how to live. He drank Stag beer, made homemade wine, and raised a garden that could feed an army. In flights of vanity, I imagine that I am a lot like him. Like he was.

I visited him several weeks ago, but I did not visit him in the hospital. I admit my weakness. I wanted to remember him in a certain way, and that was not in a hospital bed. I remember him sneaking me a sip of the latest vintage, digging turnips, and tinkering with engines. I remember him dancing, the only time I ever saw him dance, at his golden wedding anniversary with his bride of fifty years.

He was educated only up to eighth grade in school, but spent a lifetime learning. He could fix anything with a motor. That old pickup ran like a top. To think of anyone else driving it breaks my heart, but to think of it left rusting under a shed is even worse.

I wonder if you get to pick how you go to heaven? I’d expect him to travel in an old Ford pickup. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.