Is He There?

The question asked by the man on the phone late one evening caught me by surprise: “Is LeRoy there?” he asked. “What?” I responded. He must have thought I didn’t hear because he repeated his question more slowly and loudly: “Is…Le…Roy…there?”

My husband had passed away 5 years earlier and, except for the occasional junk mail addressed to him, the references had ceased.

After the caller explained that he wanted to buy a coon dog, I took a deep breath and told him that LeRoy had passed away. He quickly gave his condolences and hung up but his question stayed with me: “Is LeRoy there?”

Yes. Yes, he is. He is here. He is here in the mannerisms and quiet strength of his son. He is here in the hazel eyes of his oldest daughter. He is here in the smile of his younger daughter. He lives on in the giggles of grandchildren who were babies when he passed away and do not have a clear memory of him but who still beg again and again: “Tell me again how Papa LeRoy lifted me up in the air!” to “Papa LeRoy loved coon hunting, didn’t he? What was his dog’s name?” to “How come Papa had a mustache?”

He will live on because we choose to share memories of a man who was crazy mad in love with his children and grandchildren and his wife and who considered each day a gift and a blessing.

Is he here? Yes, yes he is…for years to come.

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