Neno (Part 2)

Today is the one-month anniversary of my father-in-law joining Jesus in heaven.  The whole family has spent time reflecting on his life, what he meant to each one.  His memorial service was a beautiful tribute, with many sharing their favorite memories.  I did not speak that day, so I now want to take my turn to tell you what I will miss, what I loved, and what he meant to me.  Psalm 10:7  “We all have happy memories of good men gone to their reward.”

My earliest memory goes way back to when I was in grade school.  Bonnie, my mother-in-law, was my fifth grade Sunday school teacher.  She had several of us over for lunch after church.  At one point during the meal, “Mr. Margo” was teasing us, and pulled out a $100 bill from his wallet (for the life of me- I can’t remember why).  I had never seen one before, so I was completely impressed.  That makes my first memory of him one where I thought he was kind, funny and … rich!  Hah!

When I married Ed, he and his dad built house together.  His dad taught him how to always work hard.  In fact, I have never seen two people work as intensely or as fast.  For twenty years they labored together, with Eddie considering his dad his best friend.

My favorite part of their working relationship was the “family-insider-information” we were privy to.  Neno would often share with Ed all the latest happenings with the other seven brothers and sisters.  These updates would be followed by, “Don’t tell your mom I told you.”  Each night (and I literally mean “each”) as Eddie came through the door I would ask, “What did your dad say today?”  We had quite an effective information network established.

Neno called me “Margo.”  I loved that.  He always greeted me with a shy, sweet smile- offering to make me some coffee.  I felt like I was his favorite and that he loved my kids the best.  What a surprise to find out at his funeral that everyone in the family felt the same way.  Goes to show you how remarkable he was!

Eddie and I had the privilege of being in Hawaii with his mom and dad about a decade ago.  Ed’s mom really loved the snorkeling- spending hours in the ocean going out quite a distance.  Well… we were in a souvenir shop when we saw on a coffee mug that Bonnie’s name in Hawaiian was “Poni.”  Neno nicknamed her “Snorki-Poni” … which brought a contagious giggle to all of us over the next few years.

Eddie viewed his dad as the most discerning person he knew.  Pretty much every major decision we faced (okay… the minor ones too) Ed would discuss with his dad.  We admired his wisdom, relying on his counsel.  Recently, we have had some upsetting road issues on our property to deal with.  Both of us have missed having our favorite advisor around to offer encouragement.

Life does march on, but our hearts tend to want to stand still… remembering those who have left us.  I am very much comforted with the thought that Neno has found my mom in heaven- putting that incredible information network back in motion.  I smile, picturing him updating her with stories about my children she never got to meet.  Stories of Jessica’s strong convictions, Cory’s laid back personality and Olivia’s affectionate ways.  Perhaps he will tell her of my similar struggle with cancer, but how God chose to bring me victoriously through it.  I find myself being envious of the “no-more-sorrow, walking with Jesus” type of eternal life they are both enjoying.

As the old hymn enthusiastically declares:

“When we all get to heaven,

What a day of rejoicing that will be.

When we all see Jesus… (and Neno, and my mom, Devona, and… ______)

We’ll sing and shout the victory!!!

Neno (part 1)

Life has a way of shaking us to the core at times.  It is the unexpected, tragic events that can push us to the brink of wanting to question God, while at the same time cling to Him with everything in us.  The Margo family has just walked through this type of trial.

Late afternoon on March 1st, Eddie received one of those life-stopping phone calls.  The news was not good.  His dad was being airlifted to Stanford hospital to have emergency brain surgery.  I was at a retirement dinner for my dad, commemorating the longevity of his career.  At 84, he had finally decided to stop working full-time.  It was a very honoring event, with everyone speaking so highly of him.  In the midst of this atmosphere, Eddie called me to break the news about his dad.  What a rush of emotions as I tried to make it through the dinner… full of joy for my dad, while wondering if I would soon be mourning the loss of Ed’s dad.

The surgery revealed a blood clot, two inches in diameter on the front of my father-in-law’s brain.  The doctors successfully removed it, and the prognosis was expected to be good.  His speech would possibly be affected due to the location, and the rehabilitation a long one, but recovery was definitely anticipated.

We all breathed that initial sigh of relief.  In fact, by the next day, Ed’s dad was able to speak.  We cautiously celebrated this miracle.

Ed went up to see his father during the week as often as possible.  These visits would hold a variety of things; at times- clear recognition.  At other times- moaning and confusion.  One interaction held precious words of encouragement.  His dad was able to tell Ed how much he loved him, what a good son he had been, and what a great man he is.  He ended this moment of blessing by saying, “In the name of Jesus, amen.”  It meant the world to Eddie.

After a week, Neno (as many affectionately called Ed’s dad whose name is Anthony) was moved back to our local hospital.  This was amazing!  The plan for rehabilitation was being discussed.  He was going to make it.

I brought Cory and Olivia to the hospital two days later.  Neno fully recognized them, stating, “Somebody’s missing.”  He was right.  Jessica was not with us.  It all seemed so hopeful.  Later that same day, he was walking – doing very well.

Everything changed the next day.  He was unable to get up, with his right side appearing paralyzed.  He was disoriented, confused by his surroundings.  Another one of those devastating phone calls… Ed was on the ether end explaining the upsetting turn of events.  A new clot, bigger and located in a more treacherous spot had been found on the latest CT scan.

I hung up the phone, weeping.  This was so sad.  It’s that moment of realizing hope has just been instantly taken away.  Unless God miraculously chooses to intervene, this was it.  And, of course, there is the incredible, greater hope of eternity with Christ, but adjusting to the idea of life without Eddie’s dad seemed incomprehensible.

Ed, along with his mom and seven brothers and sisters, spent countless hours at their dad’s bedside.  One or more of them was always with him, even taking turns staying the night.  Neno was now in a coma-like state.  Ed would kiss on him, whispering words in his ears- promising to look after his mom.  Many tears were shed as we began to imagine life without the rock of the family.  He was only 73… too young to leave us.

Eight days after the second clot had been found, Neno passed away.  Eddie was there as his dad took his final breath.  As Neno began his dance of celebration in heaven, we struggled to find a new rhythm to carry on without him.

Philippians 3:20-21  “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

It is hard to describe how much he will be missed.

Neno and Olivia