I was having a bit of writer’s block tonight, so rather than trying to force some new thoughts to come together, I thought I’d share a piece of family history.
“Poppa”, my great-grandfather Joseph McCombs, wrote a poem after his first wife died. A copy of the poem was made for my Aunt Jeanette, one of his daughters, and given to her as a gift. After her death, it was given to my Aunt Georgia who then passed it on to me.
A scan of the copy I have is below:
On the cardboard backing the parchment, the inscription reads “To Aunt Jeanette–Christmas, 1983”. James Ray Slaughter, who copied this poem was the son of Jessie Rae McCombs, Jeanette’s sister. My great-grandfather, Joseph Jeremiah McCombs, wrote this poem some time after the death of his first wife, Georgia Almeda Brazal (referred to as Meda in these lines). After Aunt Jeanette passed away, my Aunt Georgia (daughter of Mattie Beatrice, another sister) kept this poem. One day, when I was visiting her at her home in Lapeer, she passed it on to me.
–Lines by Joseph Jeremiah McCombs–
“Lines to My Wife”
Oh, Meda Dear; Thy Toil Is Done
Thy Work on Earth is O’er;
That Gentle Word, That Pleasant Smile
Will Greet Us Here No More.
I Gaze into That Marble Face,
In Life so Dear To Me;
Yet Dearer Still in Death Thou Art,
With All Thy Purity.
Of Soul, That Shines Upon Thy Face–
The Celestial Light of Heaven
The Smile Upon Thy Coral Lips–
Sweet Token of Thy Welcome.
Our Little Girls, Thy Tender Care
Will Forever Be Denied.
By Other Hands, Less Fond Than Thine,
Their Wants Must Be Supplied.
Our Pathway Here was Sometimes Rough–
Strewn With More Thorns Than Flowers,
But Thou Wert Ever By My Side
To Beguile My Lonely Hours.
But Now Thou’rt Gone To Thy Reward,
We’ll See Thee Here No More.
Those Loving Smiles And Tender Words,
We’ll Miss Foverevermore.
Forever, Did I Say? Well No,
When My Here is O’er,
That Beauteous Form Again I’ll Clasp,
Upon The Other Shore.
Together Then, We’ll Ever Roam
The Fields of Paradise,
Our Dear Ones All Be With Us There,
Oh Won’t That Be So Nice.
I Wonder if Thou Cans’t Look Down
From Portals in The Sky,
And See And Know Our Deeds And Thoughts
As Time Rolls Swiftly By.
I Only Hope Thou Cans’t, Dear Love
Look Down on All We Do,
Our Deeds Shall Thy Approval Meet,
Our Thoughts, of You of You.
J J McCombs
(Copied 1983 by his respectful & devoted grandson – James Ray Slaughter)
The first time I read it, I was struck by several things. I could see how very much Poppa had loved Meda. I could see that he was dealing with how he would be able to raise their girls. And, I could see his faith through these words, knowing that while they were parted in this life, they would meet again in Heaven.
The other thing that struck me was that the rhyming pattern and format was very familiar to me. I knew that many traits could be passed on through the generations, but I did not know poetry style was one of those traits.
Here is a poem I wrote almost twenty-six years ago. It is a summary of my faith, and it ties me to Poppa in a way I never imagined.
I often think of little lambs
So gentle, meek, and frail;
Their little voices – how they bleat!
Their coats so curled and pale.
Always bounding off somewhere
In search of pastures green;
Looking for something better
That ever remains unseen.
Then I think of one Little Lamb
So gentle, meek, and mild,
Who came into this world for us;
Our God’s most holy Child.
This holy, sacrificial Lamb,
His sinless life He gave;
For all of us–HIS little lambs–
He went into the grave.
Then rose again on Easter morn,
And reigns with God on high.
I gave my life to this holy Lamb;
His little lamb am I.
©Pamela J. Sabados 30 July 1986