The wise will know

Jeff at Niagara Falls, a place he loved. May 2009

Jeff at Niagara Falls, a place he loved. May 2009

If we call for the proof and we question the answers
Only the doubt will grow
Are we blind to the truth or a sign to believe in?
Only the wise will know

And word by word they handed down the light that shines today
And those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray

Yes those who came at first to scoff, remained behind to pray

Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson

Jeff was the classic left-brain thinker, disciplined and methodical. He tended toward skepticism in most areas, from alternative medicine, to charismatic politicians, to the good intentions of people who often promised more than they delivered.

About his faith, though, he never wavered. He lived his last hours with the same stoic acceptance he demonstrated throughout our 38 years together, secure in his belief that death was a passage to another life and not merely the end of this one.

He had no profound parting words or emotional scenes during those last few days. He knew, as we did, that his life had spoken more eloquently and consistently than any words could express. His steadfast faith, hope and love are an enduring example, a light in our lives that will never be extinguished.

84 Comments

  1. A beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss. Blessings and peace to you, and for Jeff RIP.

    • Thank you Patricia! I appreciate your presence here.

  2. Love and prayers being sent your way. What a wonderful unique Christian man he is! So thankful God felt us worthy to cross paths with him. He will be remembered as you described here. Loved and admired!

    • Thank you Franny. Those years we all had together on the Central Coast were among our greatest blessings in this life. How lucky we ALL were to have each other, and such a beautiful world where our children could play! I want to tell you something extra-special. You no doubt recognize the trail in this photo, that ran behind our neighborhood at VAFB. When I came back into Jeff’s hospital room just before he died (while he was sleeping soundly, and the doctors had told us he would not ever awaken) I found that Drew had left a card in his room, with that same photo on the front of it. Inside he had simply written, “Daddy — I’ll meet you there. Love, Drew” I don’t think he would mind my telling you. That place and our years there, and our close friendship and fellowship together with each other, must be the closest thing to heaven we will experience in this life. And apparently some of our children remember it that way, too. Love to you and all the family!

      • We will always cherish our memories of Vandenberg. I always loved how Jeff talked to Ladd and Whitney. He made me (a nervous young mom) feel like my kids were great and that I was a good mom. I loved the way he found the best in everyone. I never spent time around Jeff that did not leave me feeling lifted up. Those days in Vandenberg were the best! I continue to pray for you, Matt, and Drew!

        • Your kids were great and still are! I will always be grateful to Ladd for being a good friend to Matt. Those years brought us all so many reasons to be happy and they are a gift that keeps on giving. Thanks for your prayers and your friendship – we love you!

  3. Jim Beavers

    Julia, I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I have asked God to give you comfort through this very difficult time.

    • Thank you, Jim. I am so grateful you have been with us here.

  4. Ron Wood

    Julia, so sorry for your loss. You were and still are much loved.

    • Thank you, Ron. We are so happy you are here with us.

  5. Cherie

    Julia, Jeff said so much through his being who he was than anyone I have ever known. I never met him in person, but felt like I knew him through the words and pictures on this blog. I used him as a measure for Ron and I to cope with our trials. I am keeping you and Matt always in my thoughts and prayers. I love you!

    • Thank you Cherie. Jeff was a man of few words, but he really cared about people and appreciated the friends I met through this blog. I love you too! Let’s continue to keep each other in prayer.

  6. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia.☕️ I have admired Jeff during these years of Defeat Despair that we have shared. You had mentioned long ago that Jeff was such a private person but in recent months I noticed that he was suggesting various subjects for you to use and topics of interest. I feel that his love and devotion to God, followed by his love and devotion to his family was his FUEL during these years of sickness. He definitely traveled by faith! 💛 My thoughts and prayers continue for you and the Denton family. Love, Sheila

    • Thank you Sheila. I didn’t realize, fully, just how long Jeff kept pushing himself on for our sake. You are exactly right, it was his fuel. He took care of us in so many ways, right up until the morning he went to the ER. The doctors took one look at the images of his lungs and feared the worst, but Jeff stayed amazingly strong right up until the last. No one I know has ever deserved eternal rest more. Thanks for being with us so steadfastly through these difficult but beautiful years. Sending you love and deep gratitude!

  7. Ann

    A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.

    • Thank you Ann. ❤

  8. Mourning with you today.

    • Thank you Barb. Thanks also for the beautiful card.

  9. MaryEllen Davis

    My very deepest sympathies and prayers for you, Julia.

    • Thank you Mary Ellen. We appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers — and we need them now more than ever.

  10. Julia you are in my heart and prayers.
    My condolences to you and your son’s, Matt and Drew.
    Take comfort in your precious g~sons… Jeff’s legacy will live on.
    💓

    • Thank you, Merry. Yes, the grandsons are a great consolation. They were there at the hospital with us for Jeff’s last conscious days, and even after he died, their presence was a tremendous solace. I can already see so much of Jeff in Grady, and I know it’s not my imagination; his parents see it too. Definitely some personality traits that must be genetic, right up to demanding a bedtime on schedule every night. 😀

  11. Janet Sawyer

    Blessings and hugs to you and yours.

    • Thank you Janet. Jeff and I always treasured our times with you and C. W.

  12. This was so beautiful, Julia. I’m so happy you both had such clear understanding that while there is pain in the physical separation, the spirit of those we love just resides elsewhere. They are accessible, just not touchable. Our hearts connect us. Jeff looks almost ethereal in that photo by the falls. You are such a talented writer.

    • Thanks for your kind words about my writing, Marlene. It is tremendously therapeutic for me to put things into words sometimes, so if it helps anyone else but me, that’s a bonus. I really do have the strong sense that Jeff isn’t “gone” except physically — which in itself is a huge grief, because his physical presence was always so important to us. But it has been a deep and sometimes unexpected comfort to feel as if he’s still here. I was afraid to walk into our bedroom at our York home for the first time, but the minute I walked through the door I felt so reassured that he was still there, even though he was not in front of my eyes. It was strange and wonderful. Giant ethereal hugs!

      • Just remember, I will never minimize the pain you feel. It is so real and so deep. It took me years to get relief from the pain of losing my mother as we were just beginning to be friends. No unfinished business, just seriously wanted more time with the new mother I had finally found. No one could understand why I missed her so much. It surprised me too. Now we talk more often than before. I wish I could say it as eloquently as you. Keep writing. You help us all. 🙂

        • Aw, thanks Marlene. I’ve said it many times, but it makes me feel so happy to think that anything I write might help someone else. Giant grateful hugs!

  13. Beautiful reflections! Great photo of Jeff. Thank you for this. This rings SO true, for a man devoting his life so completely to God, his family, and his country…”his life had spoken more eloquently and consistently than any words could express”. I love you, Julia.

    • Thank you, Kathy. I love you too. We WILL get around to that phone call, sooner or later! ❤

  14. Lydia

    Julia, Thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories of Jeff. Such a remarkable man! May the Lord continue giving you peace and comfort in the days ahead. Praying for you and Matt.

    • Thank you, Lydia. We really need and appreciate the prayers. Some days are harder than others, but grace abounds.

  15. A beautiful life that will live on in your heart forever, Julia. xo

    • Thank you, Alys. ❤

      • I wish I could reach across the miles and embrace you in a big hug.

        • Well, you just did! Virtually, anyway. And that counts. ❤

  16. Sheila

    Julia, when I say that I went to Piggly Wiggly today, do I get a little smile? When I tell you that I bought butter beans do you chuckle? When I say that the song that came on their intercom was “Walking On Sunshine” are you with me? That wasn’t coincidence! I’ve been happy ever since, sharing and thinking of you! 🌞

    • Sheila, when you say you went to Piggly Wiggly and got butter beans, I say “no wonder you were walking on sunshine!” Meet me on the Verandah with an extra-big mug of tea and maybe something freshly baked. Thinking of you with joy and gratitude!

  17. Carolyn

    Sending you all lots of love and hugs. I have sent you a message on FB. Let us know what is happening.

    • Thanks Carolyn, so sorry that I somehow didn’t have your name on all the emails I sent out. I’ve been dropping balls left and right lately, but hopefully will catch up in time. We love you!

  18. Amy

    This is a beautiful post about Jeff. His faith always amazed me. The first class I ever heard him teach was on the book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner. It was obvious to me that Jeff was very convicted in his faith and I pray that I have such a heart and a hope in heaven. I am sure that Jeff is looking down from heaven and I am trusting him to intervene on my behalf. You are right about the light he leaves in our hearts. What a blessing. Keeping you in my prayers. I love you very much.

    • Thank you Amy. I will always treasure Jeff asking me to leave Matt with you while I was at the hospital. He so appreciated your love and kindness for Matt — and of course for us too! You have been there for us so often, and words are truly inadequate to tell you how much that means.

  19. HarryS

    Ah – sweet sorrow 🙂

    Ah – sweet sorrow 🙂

    • Thank you, Harry. It’s taking awhile for the “sweet” part to make itself felt, but gradually I’m getting there. If not for the sweetness, there would be no real sorrow.

  20. Amen!
    Good morning, Julia!
    I’ve sometimes wondered if, when it’s my time, I’ll be excited to know that I’ll be with God soon, or if at the last moment my faith may waver and I might panic.
    But if I panic, I know I’ll call out to Jesus (as I’ve often done), and He’ll console me. He has never let me down.
    Love and prayers for you – you know that you are never alone, and I’m thankful that Jeff has passed on to you such a strong light!

    • Thank you, Susan. I think we all wonder about how we will feel at death (assuming we know it’s coming, which isn’t always granted to us). During all the years Daddy struggled with COPD, when he would panic at being unable to breathe, he said he always asked God for “the peace that passes understanding.” He told me it was the prayer that never failed him. Thanks for being here with us. It is a comfort to know we are not alone.

  21. Judy from Pennsylvania

    Julia, your words share your faith in God during this very difficult time of saying goodbye, good morning. The photo of Jeff is so handsome and so perfect for this post. God bless you and your family and may you feel His arms of love wrapped securely around you, carrying you through the days ahead. You are in my prayers.

    • Thank you, Judy. I am so grateful for your presence here.

  22. Hugs, Julia! My heart goes out to you…

    • Thank you, Bindu! It is always a joy to see your smiling face here in the comments section. I hope all is well with you — blessings to you in this new school year.

  23. MaryAnn

    Beautiful! Jeff is one of the “wise” who “handed down the light that shines today”.
    I love you!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. We love you too!

  24. Veronica Brown

    Dear Julia, I am so very sorry to read of Jeff’s passing. My heart & prayers go out to you and all your family. With love, Veronica Brown

    • Thank you, Veronica. We appreciate your prayers!

  25. Chris

    Love this and you. You continue in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Thank you, Chris. Please tell Uncle Johnny and Aunt Nell how much their letter meant to us. We love you. Hope you and Carlos can come back for another visit sometime. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.

  26. Connie Reed

    Julia, I was so saddened to have read about Jeff’s passing. I never knew Jeff, but what I have read from you, he was a great husband and father. And, above all, was a shining example of a christian man. Please take care and know that my prayers are with you and your family.

    • Thank you, Connie. I appreciate your prayers and warm wishes. My sister Carla is sitting here with me as I read this comment, and she said to tell you hello!

  27. Such a nice photo of your Jeff, thanks for sharing it here Julia. I hope you find comfort when you look at your photos. I don’t have many of my dad but when I really miss him badly, I have a favourite. One where dad is midway through a grin on our deck at the lake. It was his 60th Birthday and his brother and sister also came out. That made dad so happy. I remember the day clearly and I often hear dads voice when I think of that day. Sometimes photo’s make me sad and I guess that’s ok too. It’s just the love pouring out. xo thinking of you K

    • K, you’re right, the photos are happysad for me. Mostly happy, but I always feel that little stab to the heart when I see them, and really that probably will never completely vanish. I’m glad you have a photo of your Daddy to treasure. We are very lucky to have these shining stars in our universe! ❤ Thanks for being with us through all of this.

  28. HarryS

    5 G’s

    the Greatest Gift God Gives is God.

    • So true, Harry…and often, God shows up in the actions of kind and loving people!!

  29. Patricia Ollry

    Dear Julia, I am so sorry for you loss, and am praying for peace for you, your “boys,” and your extended family. I didn’t know your beloved Jeff, but I know he was a very lucky man to have you in his life. ❤ Trish

    • Thank you, Trish. I can say with 100% certainty that, even though you never met Jeff, I would never have met you except for his extraordinary gifts to me. I so appreciate your presence here!

  30. Hi Julia…your posts seldom come across my feed, but this morning this one did. I was saddened to learn of Jeff’s passing. Your tribute to him is beautiful. I’ve always admired your writing. I know Jeff fought a long hard battle. Though I grieve for you, I also rejoice with you in his homegoing. May God fill every crevice of your broken heart and manifest himself in ways you could never imagine. I pray your family is doing well. Especially, Matt. My deepest sympathy and prayers for your tomorrows. Love, Starr

    • Thank you, Starr. I feel honored that you like my writing! Matt is doing pretty well. Most days I think he’s doing better than I am, but of course, he puts on a brave face for me. I so appreciate your prayers and your being here! ❤

  31. Julia, you are loved dear friend. Take solace in knowing there are many of us whom although we have never met, love you, hope for you, send you prayers and healing hugs. xo We are here for you dear Julia. Lean on us when you need a friend xo

    • Thank you so much, M – you have been a wonderful encouragement to me. Your cards, prayers, warm thoughts and positive spirit have been blessing me for years now and I will always be grateful. ❤

      • I am ever grateful as well. Just know that you and your family are in my prayers. ♥

        • Thank you, M – the prayers are our lifeboat right now. ❤

          • I know…I’m sending! ♥♥♥

  32. ellisanderson

    Oh, Julia, the words you share as a tribute end up being such a gift to us all. Thank you for your powerful expressions of love down through the years…

    • Ellis, whatever I know about writing today– and certainly my deep love of it– took root long ago in your dorm room when you would so generously let me read your journals and I would be amazed at your creativity and talent. I still have the video I made of the songs you sang for Jeff and me when you came to see us a couple of years ago. I have enjoyed them many times since. WOW all the years just vanished and it was like we were back in that dorm and you were singing my blues away. I’ll close with a musical verse you may remember, one you sang to me many times during the mid-1970’s, and I have sung back to myself many times since:

      And I was wondering if you had been to the mountain
      To look at the valley below?
      Did you see all the roads tangled down in the valley?
      Did you know which way to go?
      Oh the mountain stream runs pure and clear
      And I wish to my soul I could always be here
      But there’s a reason for living way down in the valley
      That only the mountain knows

      Love you! ❤

  33. Julia, I am sorry I am just now finding out about Jeff! I am so sorry for your loss, and I know God is holding you up at this time. I have not been on WordPress in quite a while.

    • Hi Patsy, I totally understand about being absent from WordPress; I’ve not been on nearly as much as I would like in recent years, and hardly at all in recent months. I really want to catch up with everyone. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for your kind words and thoughts. We are surviving, one day at at time and with the help of many loving friends…

      • Good to hear from you, Julia. Hang in there, friend. 🙂

        • Thank you Patsy! I appreciate your presence here.

          • You’re welcome, although, lately I have been absent quite a bit. I was sick for a few weeks which is unusual for me, but got out of the swing of doing any art until a couple of days ago. Now I am working on something for a friend so it feels good to be doing something again. I know you are an encouragement to many, many people, Julia, so we all enjoy your presence here as well! 🙂 I hope your day is blessed.

            • I certainly understand that, as I’m in the midst of a very protracted absence from so many of my favorite blogs. It’s always nice to see people again, even if they can just pop in here and there. I appreciate you being here whenever you are, and I understand that being away is necessary for all of us at times. Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

  34. Julia, I just read the last three posts today. I’m sorry you have lost your Jeff, but it is radiantly clear that you both valued one another deeply and your faith. His passing sounds how it seems it perhaps should be, without regrets or added, difficult utterances… I’m glad for you that you have God as your eternal compassionate companion through these days, weeks, and months, a solace in the soreness of grief… Anyway, blessings, and peace.

    • Thank you Cynthia. As difficult as it all was, it was a profound consolation to see and feel Jeff’s rock-solid peace and acceptance. I do feel a sense of peace most of the time, even when I’m agitated at the huge gaps in our lives created by his passing. I so appreciate your presence here, and your words of comfort. ❤

      • I am so glad you do feel that serentiy despite the wound of loss. The taking away and the giving seem so often entertwined with love. And God’s Presence has clearly imbued you both and will do so eternally. Best regards.

        • Cynthia, thank you so much. Your words are, as always, appropriate and encouraging.

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