[This can be found in audio format on Spotify under Jim Holbeck]
Over the years I have often had sad thoughts on Remembrance Day as I thought about the very young men and women who went to war for Australia and for other nations and who never returned home. Such a tragic loss for so many families around the world. Oh, why don’t people seek peace rather than resort to the stupidity of war! No wonder Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Mat 5:9. I suppose that saying of Jesus has motivated me to attempt to be a peace-maker throughout my life.
Just 2 years ago today [11thNovember] it was an especially sad Remembrance Day for me because at 11am the Thanksgiving funeral service for my late wife Carole was about to begin at St Thomas Anglican church in Port Macquarie NSW. That was the exact time the nation stops to remember those brave men and women who served our nation during so many military conflicts.
The Rector had arranged for someone to take part at the beginning of the service who led us in prayer for those who had served in military service. My mind went to my father who at 19 years of age had sailed to England in 1916 to fight in the trenches of France and Belgium in World War 1. A fine man, humorous, hardworking and fair. I remembered thinking of Carole’s uncle who had travelled from India to also fight in that war in the British army. With just a few days to go before the war ended, he had been fatally shot by a sniper and never returned home to India. He was never to know that his much younger brother [and Carole’s father] would become a legend in field hockey history with 2 Olympic Gold medals and perhaps the best in his position ever. In front of me in the church was my nephew who had served 2 tours of military duty in the Australian Army as a medical doctor in Afghanistan and praise God, had survived those battles.
Then my mind returned in the thanksgiving service for my wife beloved Carole. She had passed away from a long bout with cancer just 11 days before. They had been very sad days missing her so much after 53 years of a wonderful fulfilling marriage for both of us. I realised as tributes were read to her which had come from all over the world, that she had been admired and loved by so many people. She in turn had poured out her love to a multitude of people in different situations. I had been the recipient of her very special love and I had begun to feel the emptiness of my life without her. She had been the most special person in my life for over 55 years and it was difficult to imagine living without her. However we had produced 3 wonderful children who had loved her so much and were there with me in the service.
The world changed on that Remembrance Day 2 years ago. Many people had been unable to get to the funeral service because the disastrous bush fires had cut off access to the town for people outside our area. When the fires ceased there had been a massive flood and it not long after that, that the Covid 19 virus arrived forcing people to isolate. We have been living in a different world since then with little access to friends and family. Now we are beginning to live with Covid 19 in the world but I think I will find it still hard to live without my beloved Carole as we get back to “normal.” But I do so with a tremendous sense of gratitude to God for having brought her all the way from her birthplace Kharagpur in India to meet and marry me in Australia, to enrich my life and the lives of so many people for so many years.
Memories are often wonderful and humbling as we remember the love and graciousness of our God in His blessings to us. I can identify with King David as he wrote in Psalm 143:5, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.” What wonderful memories so many of us have, as we reflect on the Lord’s loving kindness to us throughout our lives!
Blog No.391. Posted on Friday 12 November 2021.