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Saying Goodbye to a Peale Family Friend

Honoring a Norman Vincent Peale family friend in his last days.

Saying goodbye to an old family friend.

He has been a constant in our family’s lives for more than 50 years. A constant source of goodness, friendship, care, partnership, reassurance and kindness. Linwood, the Norman Vincent Peale family’s treasured friend, who would be 80 years old in June, is in his final days. We and all those who know and adore (hard to do one without the other) Linwood would say that it is impossible to imagine our world without him in it. Yet we know that this will be the reality very, very soon.

I was so fortunate to be by Linwood’s bedside at his home on Saturday, along with my mother, one of my daughters and members of Linwood’s loving and embracing family. Linwood’s first cousin, who had lost his wife of 46 years a mere six weeks prior, offered a prayer. He expressed gratitude to God for Linwood’s life.

He spoke of Linwood being on loan to us from God and now that loan was coming to a close. He said for those of us remaining, our job is to carry on living by sharing God’s investment, that being Linwood and all that he has shared with us. This concept is a comforting one–knowing that Linwood will be cared for when he goes back to God–but also one that empowers us to continue to live out the lessons that Linwood has taught us all.

Read More: She Kept Her Mom’s Promise

Arriving home from that visit, I wrote the following to my siblings:

I am just back from a visit with Linwood and some members of his family. The atmosphere was calm, peaceful and joyful, just the way you would imagine it to be. Mom was there, too. Linwood is on his last lap of the great wide lawn known as his life. I was able to share your love and appreciation of him with him, emphasizing how lucky we three kids have always been for his constant, available, reliable, loving and accepting presence in our lives.

He taught us to show up, and do for others with a twinkle in the eye and a willingness to accept how things worked out. He put kindness at the forefront. 

About four years ago, Linwood and I were together, and I asked him how he felt about dying. He shared with me that he was not afraid of dying, that it is a part of life, God picks your time and that should be accepted and welcomed. 

How lucky we are for Linwood in our lives.

Perhaps when you are exposed to such goodness, kindness and steadfastness your whole life, that investment penetrates, giving you daily security, hope and faith. I can say with assurance, that Linwood, the treasured loan God shared with our world nearly 80 years ago, will continue to live on through so many of us who were blessed to call him a friend.

From Linwood’s perspective, anything was possible. He showed us this through his presence and actions many, many times over. When asked if he could help with something big (and seemingly impossible to the rest of us) or small, his usual response was, “Sure thing.”

As I try to imagine our lives without Linwood, showing up at all the right times with competence, assurance and kindness, I feel sad, of course, but when the time comes for God to call back His loan, it will be my great honor to live out the investment God has shared with us. That will be a sure thing.

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