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Evan Gillon Harris – My Dad

I’ve been wanting to write something here for all of you who have so kindly been praying for us over the last two weeks. It’s been a deeply emotional time, full of tears, beautiful family times, sadness and joy.

Last Friday Chris and Dave (Penny’s husband) and Josiah, Joseph and Zak (three of Dad’s grandchildren) worked together and made a beautiful coffin from macracarpa timber milled from our land. It was a very special time for them. I cried when I saw the coffin. It was so beautiful, and handcrafted with such love. Mum polished Dad’s medals and they were laid on the coffin along with the NZ flag.

On Sunday afternoon at 1.30pm we had a wonderful service at Crossroads Community Church to celebrate the life of my precious dad, Evan Gillon Harris. As people arrived for the funeral Penny and Grace played the violin and guitar – Dad would have loved it! All four of his children, two of his brothers, one of his son-in-laws and several of his grandchildren paid tribute to him. We would have loved to have opened the floor for others, but it would have been a very long service if we had done that. Kate and Ellie sang Dad’s favourite hymn Amazing Grace and then a soldier gave Dad a military farewell as the Last Post was played. It was very moving.

We had a private family burial the following day. I was so thrilled to see where Dad was to be buried. His grave is right by a beautiful glade of native trees and a magnificent stone wall in Maunu Cemetery. Dad made some lovely stone walls himself at their cottage in Kara Rd.

We had a precious time there of music and tears, and readings from the Bible which Dad had written in his diary that he would like at his funeral.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Even though we miss Dad so badly, we have such a deep hope and assurance that we will see him again. Praise God for the hope of the resurrection! We all helped fill the grave in, even the young ones. That was special. It’s been a wonderful thing seeing all Dad’s great-grandchildren running around. New life and death…they exist side by side. I love the photo of little Zelda running through the cemetery, so full of life!

We laid lilies on Dad’s grave – Mum carried lilies on their wedding day, seventy years ago. They remind me of the beautiful words of Jesus: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matt 6v28,29

Mum is doing amazingly well. She dictated the most beautiful words to Penny to be read out at the funeral, full of hope and the assurance that she will see Dad again. I’ll post a photo of them for you to read.

Of course she has her sad moments. How can you lose your constant companion and friend of 70 years, and the love of your life without them? Last night she had a time of grieving while I was with her, and right on cue, the hospital cat, Gimpy, came in and jumped on her lap. He sat there kneading his paws in her blanket and purring loud enough to drown out the other noises. A smile came to Mum’s face as she stroked him and felt his tummy rumbling with his contented purring. What a blessing! He sleeps each night on her bed and she loves it.

Thank you to all of you who have sent messages, letters and cards. We’ve felt so loved and supported through these long days. Do continue to pray for Mum. We are with her all afternoon and evening until she goes to bed, but we’re still not Dad. She’ll miss Dad’s daily visits, his cheery voice singing through 15 Redemption hymns with her each day. But she knows he is with the Lord and that she’ll see him again. Hallelujah!

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