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He is a Fong.  Our family has many special members both human and not-quite human.  One of them is Nemo. 

Nemo is a Lhasa Apso.  The Chinese called them Lion dogs because of their mane.  They are often portrayed in stone guarding the entrance to important places like palaces or homes of dignitaries. 

They are a determined breed.  Diminutive in size, they have a heart that will challenge a foe twice their size.  No, they are not vicious, just courageous.

Once the serenity of life has returned, they are quite docile.  Now, that they have driven off the threat to their family, they soak in the attention, petting and pampering.  They return the affection with deep sighs, comical play and unexplainable personality that beams from their Star Wars Ewok looks.

Their face will melt your heart.  Add antics and individuality to that already winning combination and you have a family member that is a favorite  of everyone.  You have to reach out and hug these guys.

Nemo is one of our family members.  He lives in Oregon with our daughter and son-in-law.  Over the years he has brought many laughable memories to our gatherings.

Now, after weeks of fighting cancer, he has lost the battle.  Yesterday, he was gently put to sleep to end the pain and suffering.  Each of us Fong’s wept at the loss of this special life that gave so much and took so little.   We will miss him.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Who can live with cheer no matter how tough the circumstances? Karen can.  Who can get you to smile and laugh when the grey clouds cover you days, weeks and even months? Karen can.  Who can lighten your load because she reaches out and helps you bear your burden? Karen can.

My years in Michigan are marked with wonderful intersections with some quality people.  Karen was one of those special people.  She wins hearts and lives with cheer.

Admittedly, Karen had an advantage before I met her.  Her husband Tom was a friend and colleague.  We had many moments of ministry, conversation and bizarre episodes of fun.

But, Tom is unique.  He sweeps into lives of people with gusto and energy.  His sharp mind and life energy are supernatural.

I mused, “What kind of woman would be the wife of someone so remarkable like Tom?”  They must be laughing all of the time.  Would they ache from smiling so often?

Yvonne and I drove to their home for a party.  We parked in the lot which was their front lawn along with all of the other cars that transported their invitees.  Their home had a glow about it.

We walked toward the house and Edison bounded out to greet us.  He is their monster dog.  Like Tom and Karen he had endless energy and was not shy in sharing it.

At the door Tom and Karen welcomed us.  Karen greeted us for the first time and we her.  “It is so nice to meet you for the first time, the wife of the famous Tom Gitter.”

“Famous?” Karen slipped in without missing a step, “I believe you mean INfamous.”

We burst out in laughter with unanimous agreement.  That was the beginning of our friendship.  We discovered that Tom was the more reserved of the two!

Karen welcomed us into her life with the kind of hospitality of Biblical proportions.  Her closeness spiritually to the Savior touched so many lives with her listening ear, wise advice and encouraging spirit.  So many trusted her with their trials and she kept confidences that would make a vaults of Fort Knox appear as plastic toys.

Now, after a rigorous bout with cancer, Karen has graduated into the presence of our Heavenly Father forever.  We will miss her.  Heaven must have needed a good addition of everlasting cheer.  She is there.  Heaven is glowing even brighter.

photo credit: google image

Yvonne sounded concerned.  She was talking to someone on her phone with a tone of somberness.  When she hung up, I waited for her to fill me in.

She had just finished talking with her sister.  “Remember my friend Arthur?” she asked knowing that this would be an introduction to sobering news. 
“Of course,” I replied expecting some news to follow. 
“My sister just told me that he is now with the Lord,” her words were filled with the all-too familiar tone of finality to them.
“Wow,” I expressed my dismay, “What happened?”
“He was fighting cancer and that caused his home-going.”

Silence followed.  We both knew that Arthur was our age.  Many common friends connected us with names faces from years gone by.

We scanned our calendars and made sure that we could make it to the funeral service.  It took a little effort to clear our date books but they were easily synchronized.  Both of us realized how closely this one and others have been increasing in number and getting closer together.

Our season of life is now firmly esconched in counting our own days on earth.  Youth blindly lives as if life will never end.  That is a privilege of youth.

With age, silver-streaked hair, physical aches and pains, a different kind of mirrored reflection our thoughts give more room for contemplating eternity.  What was always true and possible is now closer.  Good friends and family are now growing in numbers in heaven.

Often I left my mind drift and wonder what they are doing.  The reunion possibilities are increasing with each service we attend.  There will be a special time in heaven when familiar faces and loving souls will once again embrace, but this time it will be forever.

During his service I watched the power point presentation of his life.  There were images of past adventrues, family memories and favorite hobbies.  A warmth exuded from these personal portraits. 

The guests in the service were enjoying the stroll down memory lane.  Each could remember when they intersected with his life.  All wondered about their own eternity.

All of us well make the journey and cross over into eternity.  This life for each of us will come to a conclusion.  The face of Jesus will greet us.

Will He be your welcomed Savior to meet face to face?  He can be if He is not already.  Just put your faith in Him and heaven will be a most desirable destination.

photo credit: brucefong photography

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E. N. Hines Drive is well known in S. E. Michigan. It is a tranquil park-like winding road connecting Detroit, Livonia, Plymouth and Northville. The speed limit is low. No one who is in a hurry ever takes Hines Drive. But, those who have the time absorb the sounds of a babbling brook, take in the ease of paddling ducks, or marvel at the sight of trees donning their Autumn colors.

Saturday I loaded up my road bicycle on to my truck. My intent was to attempt my longest personal-best trip this year down quiet and picturesque Hines Drive. Hopefully, I had trained enough to surpass my previous distance ride in one hour’s time. Mentally prepared for a solitary ride through scenic Hines Drive, I was in for a surprise.

When I unloaded my bicycle, climbed aboard and pulled on to the road with pedals churning, I found myself surrounded by joggers, skaters and cyclists who sported a lot of pink. I must have fit right into this fund-raising crowd. It was the annual benefit for the fight against breast cancer.

People walked, others jogged, many journeyed with friends and chattered away. Serious cyclists passed me like I was standing still. Others pulled children in trailers, seniors flowed along at casual speeds. But, one passion linked these separate lives together.

Hundreds of pairs of eyes met mine. Many of us locked our gaze for a few seconds. Then, a smile was traded and a quick nod of the head. Few words were exchanged, but the message by survivors, fighters, and supporters alike was clear: be strong.

While loading my bike after my longest ride in my cycling career, my thoughts weren’t on this record setting ride. The color pink lingered long in my mind. Nameless faces bonded together for a common cause.

Lonely people felt connected. Hurting people were encouraged to be strong. Loads of money was raised. A lot of people got the picture of what we can do together when we share a common cause. Is your life linked to a cause? It doesn’t take much . . . just a look, a heart, a moment.

Eager for HIS Return!
Bruce Fong

 

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