My Friend’s Father Just Died


A friend’s father took his last breath about 20 minutes before I began writing this post.

She and I were high school classmates but I did not know her dad. I don’t think that matters when you’ve carried a friendship for nearly 40 years.

After seeing the news on Facebook, where she kept us all posted and we offered steady prayer, I sat down to type out a few thoughts. Then I called my own father.

My friend’s mom passed away a little more than a year ago and I shared my experience with losing your mother. Someday I expect she’ll share with me what it’s like to live on as a daughter without either parent.

My classmate wrote on Facebook that one thought that comforted her during her father’s final days was knowing her parents would be reunited. I’m betting that she’s clutching that thought like a warm blanket on a wintry day.

And then there’s new life

My nieces are each getting ready to have children. The youngest, who is having her first child, will deliver in less than a month. My older niece will have her second child about three weeks later.

I think they’re both terribly brave to bring little ones into this world of violence, race and religious wars and the deadly plague of addiction. The latter terrifies me; in fact, is one of the main reasons I am not a parent. But that’s another subject for another time.

In the natural course of things, all three children will one day endure the heartbreak of losing their mothers and fathers. Although all too often these days, the child dies first in a gut-wrenching reverse order.

I have another friend who’s college freshman granddaughter was found dead in her room on campus recently.

Unspeakable tragedy.

Have no regrets

Leave nothing undone. Don’t put off anything important. Say I love you often. Make phone calls even when you don’t want to. Follow your gut—if you think you ought to get in touch with somebody, you should.


Live now. Say and be and do the things that matter to you. Don’t spend one moment sweating the small stuff because you’re bigger than small stuff.

You matter. There is no one else—no one!-who can live your life as you can. Don’t let them.

Try lots of new things. Say yes to as many requests, ideas and offers that you can.

Don’t let other people get to you, especially strangers. Who the hell cares what other people think? It’s none of their business!

Have a go at living large today. Don’t hold back. This may be the only shot you’ve got, so make it good.

If you mess up, so what? The sun will still go down tonight. My friend Tess Marshall says, “Oh well. Who cares? Next?”

Be good to yourself as you’re being good to others. You are one of the others.

Always play your best hand even if you have to bluff every now and then.

When the time comes for you to draw your last breath, you’ll have two choirs of angels surrounding you, one here and one to carry you to whatever comes next.

Now THAT was a life well lived. Rest in peace, Rev. Huelse.

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  1. Karl Koch says:

    Beth, once again you have written down what I needed to hear or about what i was grappling with at the time. I received a call this AM from a distraught neighbor who’s wife died in her sleep last night. He had just found her and reached out…asking that we come over and help him. We spent the morning consoling, helping with details and questions related to the EMS and sheriff’s dept. etc. until family members got there and took over. My head has been full of the issues that you listed in your post. And my first decision was to hold my wife long and tight. Then I called my Mother. The day is young…

    • Beth says:

      My dear old friend, I am so very sorry for what you and Cheryl experienced in the morning hours today. As I’m sure you heard more than once, “thank God you were there.” We never really know when we’ll be called to be of service and I can’t think of anything more important than what you did today. It’s grueling and exhausting–I’ve experienced it a couple of times. It damn sure makes the pettiness of politics and the yammering self-righteousness all over social media slip away. Heaven may have received an angel from North Carolina this morning, but there a sure a couple still solidly there. Love to the both of them.

  2. Deb Grupe says:

    Thanks! Your classmate is my cousin, and Pastor Huelse lived the way you described. Always smiling, ready for adventure. He leaves behind five adult children who loved him, and love each other, unreservedly. He and his wife were always a welcoming shelter in any storm. Your classmate learned well from her father and mother, and indeed, both choirs–here and in the world beyond–are singing and are thankful for this man who loved big, laughed often, and served well for all of his years.

    • Beth says:

      Oh Deb, thank you for sharing a bit about the man behind the cloth, so to speak. I’m not at all surprised by the words you wrote; I sort of feel like I knew him a bit already, having watched Lois post so many good things on Facebook. I continue to feel deeply touched by your family’s loss. You won’t be far from my thoughts for many days to come. Blessings to you.

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