I appreciate all of the comments on my blog “It is well with my soul.” Some have asked if there is a Part 2.
Part two of my story is just now beginning. I retired from teaching and moved from Texas to a new city where I enjoy the beautiful weather, the mountains and the sunsets. My father died a little over a month ago. I am so glad that I came to live near him and had around seven months to enjoy his company. During visits with him at my sister’s house, we had many conversations about our time in Brazil, where my family went to be missionaries.
I was seven years old when we boarded a ship and spent two weeks at sea, before docking in Rio de Janeiro, which would be my home for 11 years, until I returned to the U. S. to study at Baylor University. I loved growing up in Brazil and since I studied in Brazilian schools, I spoke mostly Portuguese and forgot a lot of English which made my first year at Baylor pretty difficult!
When I was teaching Portuguese at a University in Texas, my students would ask how I learned Portuguese. I would tell them the story of my first day in a Brazilian school when I didn’t understand a single word of the strange language everyone was speaking. The night before my first day of school, my mother put a uniform on my bed for me to wear the next day. I hardly slept wondering what it was going to be like – a new school in a new country!
The next morning after arriving, a woman walked with me down a long hall to my new classroom. At the front of the room stood a tall red-headed woman who was teaching the class. When I walked in, everything froze for a moment. Then she motioned me to a desk and every kid in the class was staring at me. I didn’t realize at the time that the reason they were all gawking so intently was because they had never seen anyone that was blonde and very white skinned. Also, I was extremely tall for my age.
(Photo of my birthday party when I turned eight years old.)
The teacher started yelling something in a language that I didn’t understand, but I realized that she was trying to get the attention of the students. Finally she got everyone to pay attention, except for the boy in front of me. The teacher grabbed a large wooden eraser and threw it at him, but it missed him and hit me on the forehead. I went home that day with a lump on my forehead and a lump in my throat.
From that day forward, a group of kids would follow me wherever I went, and they became my “groupies.” One day we were all headed home and one boy went running ahead of us calling to his mother saying “Mamãe, vem depressa pra ver a Branca de Neve!” Mom, com quickly to see Snow White!
These were the kinds of stories that our family told about our past in Brazil, as my 94 year old father was living his last days. He had been a pilot in World War II, prior to going to Brazil as a missionary. That had not been in his plans, but many of his friends did not survive the war, and Dad realized God had a plan for him.
It was amazing to see Dad, unafraid of dying, knowing that all was well with his soul. The moment of his death, on March 19, 2015 at 1:15 p.m., was beautiful. He was conscious and his eyes were looking up at something amazing. We were all around him and he simply closed his mouth then opened it, and we knew his soul had left.
I miss my father but know that he is not gone and that I will see him again. His soul has soured into the heavens where he is now with God. My soul is sad, but I have a trust in God that gives me the reassurance that we will meet again. Until then, I love you, Dad.
Dedicated to Gene H. Wise: August 26, 1920 – March 19, 2015.