It Has Been a Year of Laughter and Sorrow

by Ruth Tervol

October 2013

Ruth and RichBecause You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice, My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:7-8

My husband, Richard Marcott Tervol, died one year ago on October 3, 2012.  This picture was taken of us at the Michigan State Fair in Detroit, Michigan in 1955. He was just home from serving his years in the Army during the Korean Conflict.

At times I still have difficulty seeing beyond the sorrow; it is the memories that comfort me today and shall continue to do so. As I walked through our kitchen today, my eyes were drawn to the plaque that hangs on the wall above the coffee pot.

It says,“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  (Joshua 24:15 NKIV)

Rich had designed every aspect of the kitchen, and then oversaw the remodeling. He was ruth's plaquealways eager to show anyone all the extras. Upon showing the kitchen to George, one of his friends named George told him that it needed one more thing. George said he would be back to Puyallup on Thursday and would drop it by.  Rich invited him to come for lunch on Thursday.  After lunch George presented Rich with this plaque. He had handmade it just for Rich, and Rich proudly hung it on the kitchen wall. Those special moments of the Godly man the Lord gave me to love for 58 years will forever reign in my heart.

I never contemplated being without Rich at my side. He taught me so many things during our years together. He taught me how to follow unconditionally the Lord’s precepts. He always told me that God designs transitions and provides the grace to embrace whatever follows as we moved from here to there and back.  This transition of going on without Rich is the hardest I have had to deal with.

We had discussed what our end of life desires were, but I never thought I would have to deal with them. There were times during the four weeks that Rich lay ill that I ran away from the truth of what was happening inside his body, and I did not want to know what would come next.  A certain amount of denial seemed to work for both of us.

During the last week of his life he said to me, “Baby, am I going to beat this thing that has a hold of me?”

My mother always told me to tell our loved ones not to worry even in the most difficult times. However, my answer to him was, “The doctors say ‘no’ but I believe in miracles, and God is with us!”

He closed his eyes and said, “Remember our promise to each other. I will always love you.”

A week later he told me good-by for the last time.

A certain amount of denial in this time of trial seemed to ease the way for both of us. I do believe that making plans while we were both healthy, and knowing each of us would carry out the desires of the other help to make this transition easier.  Rich faced this time with courage and left his family with a lesson in love and grace.

Having said all of that I still have a problem with the ‘special days’ holidays…anniversaries …birthday (the following happy picture shows us in Paris on our 50th wedding anniversary).

I always anticipated these events with such happiness. Now I continually fight back the Rich and Ruth in Paristears whenever I think about setting the table with one less place and knowing that no one wants to sit in the chair where Rich always sat.

So I turn to God. I will always need His help. If I was to depend only on my willpower, it would be putting on a brave front and I would never heal.  I am learning not to let the past affect the present. I ask God each day for His help, so the pain of my loss will not destroy the bright moments that come my way forming a new future.

If I take life one moment at a time, I can learn to rely on God’s promises.

“They shall bear fruit in old age: They shall be fresh and flourishing.”  Psalm 92:2 KJV

Corrie Ten Boom said, “The measure of a life is not its duration but its donation.”

Rich’s motto was, “To stay active, not complain, keep the faith, and we would always add value to our life.”

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  I Thessalonian 5:11 NIV

I am so grateful for the love that others have shown me, for their hugs, their smiles, their phone calls, and their encouragement.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”Psalm 30:5 NIV

In my time of grief I have learned that nothing can take the place of the Living Word of God.  When I asked God to embrace me with His love, He gave me this : “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the Whole earth.” Isaiah 54:5

When I needed strength: “The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet. And He will make me walk on high hills.” Habakkuk 3:19

When peace and care were needed: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

The assurance of answered prayer: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Rich and Ruth with RaineeThe Lord gave us fifty eight years together, with three children and 2 granddaughters. It has been a year, 365 days, since Rich went home to be with Jesus. Sometimes it feels like ten years and sometimes like last week. So much has happened around the world and in my community, and the changes in me are astonishing. I am getting used to my own company and have made the first steps into widowhood. I have accepted who I am now.

I will forever remember all the blessings God gave me through Rich.

  • His love for me and his telling me every day
  • His love of nature
  • The necessity of quite time
  • His grin and laugh
  • Vacations – camping, hiking, traveling                Rich and Ruth Hike
  • His wise leadership
  • His generosity
  • His wisdom
  • His courage to stand for truth
  • His sense of humor

As I look back over this year it is very evident that the Lord and His army of angels have been walking by my side. I am thankful for the years we had together. And have learned that death cannot rob me of the joy of my many memories. I praise God for those memories and pray God will keep them sharp.

I know I am getting better, even though I still cry at moments without cause, because I can now think of a job that needs my attention and get the job done. When I wake up at 3 A.M. as I often do, I can think of happy moments, trips we took, trails we hiked, marathons we ran, camping with family and friends, or a special dinner at a restaurant we liked.  I think of the many laughs we had together and feel a warm presence in my space.

Tervols Hiking

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