The Pearl Brewery in San Antonio opened in 1883. The Pearl Lantana opened in Austin in 2016. Separated by 133 years but connected. That connection will become clear as “From the Can Plant to the Pearl Lantana” unfolds. I write this post sitting by the pools at the Pearl Lantana, Katelyn and my new home in Austin. It has been over 18 months since my last blog post to theloveofmylife.us. On July 30, 2021, I wrote, “The Love of My Life | Your Heart Never Stops,” while in Gulf Shores, Alabama for our annual beach vacation with the Diercxsens clan. The beach at Ft. Morgan is sacred space as I have written over the years in my blog posts.
Little did I know at the time how much would change in the 18 months since I sat at my keyboard at Foam Coffee by Glow Yoga in Ft. Morgan. Just weeks before heading to the beach, our family was together in Charlottesville, Virginia. Taylor, and his now bride, Elizabeth, were going through Final Exercises for their undergraduate degrees from the University of Virginia. At the time, they were not yet engaged, but they were clearly in love. On a hot, sunny, Saturday in late May, we were on the lawn at the Academical Village. Celebrating. Bon Papa and Bonne Maman, the ever energetic parents of the love of my life, Maureen, and grandparents to Taylor, Kyla, and Katelyn willingly made the long trek to from “the lawn” to Scott Stadium in the heat to watch the graduation ceremony unfold. Days later, they were in Annapolis for their other grandson, Taylor’s cousin, Joshua’s induction into the Navy. More walking. More parties. Unflagging energy. Unflagging love.
However, at the beach, we could tell things were different. The “Mayor” of Ft. Morgan, Henry, was not under the tent. He was at the puzzle table. He rested inside Wind Song. His energy was well, flagging. Something was up. The full scope of what was up made itself known in the weeks and months to come. Prostate cancer. Days before Henry’s passing, Taylor was able to tell him of his intentions. To propose to Elizabeth. This was a secret Henry carried with him to heaven. Weeks later, after Taylor’s proposal, we came together as a family to celebrate the life of this incredible man. We celebrated in Callawassie. We shared three kisses, as Bon Papa always did. I was fine until the young priest at Henry’s church home told the story of visiting with Bon Papa prior to his passing. The young priest shared how Henry changed him. The young priest shared how Henry was so comfortable with his passing into heaven, because he would see his God and his Maureen there. I cried. Because, I know one day, I, too, will see my God and my Maureen there, too.
Heaven is where we will be in communion with God. And with each other. We will have the privilege of being in communion not because of what we do, but because of what He did. He loves us so much that He sent His son so we could indeed be with Him. For eternity. The power of heaven also changes our earthly relationships. We will all be brothers and sisters in Christ. On earth, Maureen was Henry’s daughter. Maureen was my bride. My “Eve.” In heaven, that all changes. And Henry’s faith made that real for this young priest. The day before we had celebrated another life. In Charlotte, North Carolina. My mom’s. She passed in January 2022. Henry had passed in December 2021. My mom’s passing was unexpected. The details aren’t as important as how it unfolded. We were driving to Montgomery, Alabama. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth. To celebrate Taylor’s impending proposal. On the same road, 1-10 West, that we always take to the beach to Ft. Morgan, Come Sail Away, by Styx, had just come on. A song that always reveals a “thin space” when it comes on. A song the kids and I have sung at other times on the way to Ft. Morgan. As it wound down, Taylor, who was not with us in the car, called. “Dad, Aunt Marcella is trying to reach you. Nan is in a coma.” An hour later, in a hotel in Baton Rouge, I was on the other end of a phone with my sister. As we took our mom of life support, the chaplain, a Seventh Day Adventist (my mom’s twin brother’s faith), we sang Amazing Grace, my mom’s favorite song. Her breaths started to separate. She passed into the same heaven as Maureen. As Bon Papa. And as her husband, Roy, my dad, who had passed 4 years earlier. Joining the firmament of heaven. Hours later, we celebrated the birth of a new love in Taylor’s proposal to Elizabeth. On July 16, we celebrated their marriage in a magnificent ceremony in Montgomery Alabama.
Needless to say, there has been a lot of change since my last post. As I wrote at the close of my last post, “And, as Buddha reminds us, the trouble is, we think we have time. The good news, though, is this. When you fall in love, time stops. And when it does, live into that precious, glorious moment. When two hearts beat as one. And, in the silence, love says more than words ever will.” 1883 and 2016 may be 133 years apart but in the course of just over 3 weeks this past December the glory of God showed itself in something as simple as a move. I wrote about our move from our home of over 20 years in “Thin Places and Silverlinings” in September 2020. As we prepare for Katelyn to head to college this fall, we knew that we wanted to downsize again, from a 3 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom one. To be honest, for all my writing about time, I’m not good with it sometimes. I procrastinate. In this case, the procrastination meant quickly finding a new home. After over 2 1/2 years at the Santal, I took a walk across Southwest Parkway to the Pearl Lantana. For those that have read my writing, you know that 10/21 is an important sequence of numbers for me. It is the day of Maureen’s passing on October 21, 2014. It is God’s way of showing me His presence. From an earthly perspective, my procrastination caused great stress, not just on me but my kids. However, apartment 1021 has become home. Katelyn and I are happy. It will soon be just me here but for now, it is ours. And we are happy.
So, after all of this, you might be asking what in the world does this have to do with a Can Plant? The Pearl Brewery? The Pearl Lantana? Well, this is another one of those “thin places” where God shows His hand. Not just in this situation but in everything. In the week prior to finding our new home, my car was broken into in the parking lot under the bridges by the Pearl Brewery. The same parking lot in which I had parked for years when we would go to Cured for dinner. A favorite place in San Antonio. A place made special by Chef Steve McHugh, a story I tell in many other blog posts (just search for Cured! You’ll find them.) On this night in early December, I was meeting the board and leadership team of the Side-Out Foundation for dinner. They had come into town for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Business had kept me from our meeting, but I rushed down from Austin to make dinner. The meeting itself was hosted in… yup, the Can Plant. Chef Steve keeps an office there. He had arranged for our Side-Out team to meet there. He had also arranged for dinner. At Cured. And last December, as I signed my lease at the Pearl Lantana, I come to discover that the property manager here had actually opened the Can Plant in San Antonio. It is all connected. Across time. Across space. If we trust Him, then He’ll take care of the rest of the details. No matter what the time.