Dad’s Service

In Loving Memory and Celebration
JOHN WILSON COWART
7/15/39 – 2/22/15

Dad

Memorial celebration
Sunday, 3/15/15 at 1pm – 4pm

The graveside service from 1-1:45pm will be at Hardage-Giddeon Town & Country Funeral Home
Riverside Memorial Park Cemetary
located at 7242 NORMANDY BLVD, JAX, FL 32205
PHONE : (904) 781-9262

Then from 2-4pm we request everyone proceed to Dad’s favorite – Maple Street Biscuit Company
located at 1171 Edgewood Ave. S., Jax, FL 32207 phone (904) 518-4907 where there will be a free catered luncheon. Additional covered dishes are welcome.

Please join us to remember and celebrate.
There will be a portion of the service, if you would like to say how you met or how you remember John Cowart. ANY story, memory, recollection about John, we are asking you email it to his blog so that we can use those memories to provide guest blogs, you
can be anonymous if you wish. The email is johnwcowart@gmail.com or comment at http://www.cowart.info/blog/

In lieu of flowers: John W. Cowart asked that donations be made in his name to
Trinity Lutheran Church Food Pantry
1415 Mcduff Ave S
Jacksonville, FL 32205
(904) 389-5341 TOM runs the program

or Riverside Presbytrian Church Meals on Wheels Program
849 Park St,
Jacksonville, FL 32204
(904) 388-8187

We look forward to seeing you there to share in the life and love of our father! If you need information or have questions, contact Jennifer at (904)655-0881.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Gone Home

Finally free! Our beloved Dad is home with Mom and Jesus.  We are grieving our loss but happy he is home free.  Please respect our time and allow us some space.  Thank you.

 

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• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Love, love, love

Hi all.  This is Eve, John’s middle daughter again.  Dad is truly in the home stretch to heading home.  He is settled and comfortable and surrounded by love.  It is spilling out of every room and every corner of his house here on earth.  It is sleeping in the other room taking a second getting ready to wake up to take the night shift.  It is sitting up in the living room on the couch and every chair filled talking and sharing stories.  It is in the bathroom grabbing the washcloth because Dad is feeling comfortable in his routine and his routine includes getting ready and clean for Mom to come home from work.  It is in the kitchen making milkshakes for Dad to enjoy a treat he’s loved.  It is in the driveway as cars come and go, one after the other, bringing friends who are like family and family who are friends too.

But it can’t compare to the love he is heading to.  That love fills the world.  It is unconditional and all consuming.  God is ready to welcome his child back into his loving arms.  We are getting ready to let him go but we will miss him and love him still.  We are ready to share who he is and who God is with those upcoming grandkids.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Create in me a clean heart or unicorn

You might have guessed from the title that Dad is having a guest poster today.  This is Eve, John’s middle daughter.  His journey home is coming to a close so I volunteered  to write up a post. The title is from Psalm 51 with a small edit : )

A couple of weeks ago, Dad and I were visiting and he asked me if there were any things from around the house that I would want.  He’d already been putting things in large paper bags to set aside for us but he asked for my input for my stuff.  Mom had had a small collection of unicorns.  Mom and Dad had given me a unicorn music box that once was Mom’s several years ago and I have always loved it and wanted to add to my collection. So when Dad asked, I knew immediately what my answers was to be.  The unicorns!  A while ago, I had given to Mom a pair of unicorns.   Dad had me take them down and take them home that night.

But after living in a smoke filled home for years, what had started as white unicorns were now brown.  I rinsed them off at first but that didn’t get rid of anything but the dust.  I could have given up on them but I treasured them and the idea of the pleasure they had given my parents for so many years.  So I pulled out the whitening toothpaste, my q-tips and rubbed the toothpaste into every nook and cranny.  I hoped it would work and with a lot of scrubbing, q-tips and one final rinse, they turned out like this:

What was stained was now as beautiful as when first given….rather like Dad or me or you.

Sin stains us.  It could be a thin layer of dust or smoke stains down to the core.  You might think that makes us unworthy or beyond saving.  Something for the trash heap.  But so loved and blessed are we that God gives us the incredible offer of salvation.  How can I be certain of God’s love?  Because of my Dad.  My Dad loved us so well and fully that it gives me a hint at how much our heavenly Father loves us and how he treasures us.  It is only through God’s amazing grace that we can be made clean.  Amazing is a great word for it and that possibility is a better gift than anything, even a pair of snow white unicorns.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Updates on a rainy day.

John is  happy and singing/humming as he drifts in and out of awareness. He is surrounded by his family and friends, comfortable in his recliner.

It’s amazing that even now, he is a witness to others. In the midst of a painful procedure this afternoon, he thanked the nurse for helping him. His social worker was touched by his holding his adult children in his lap to comfort them, even as he is confined to his recliner.

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. It probably won’t be too much longer until he joins his bride, Ginny, though I wouldn’t put it past him to surprise us and bless us here a little longer.

– Helen

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Two Stout Monks

Friday, February 13, 2015

Last night I read an e-mail from a former minister of Christ Church Jacksonville Anglican, the church I attend.

In November, 2013, the Rev Gary Blaylock accepted a call to become pastor of St. Francis Anglican Church in Fairhope, Alabama.

Over the last four days he has attended a spiritual retreat at Saint Joseph Abbey in Louisiana.

St Joe Abby
This monastery was founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks and serves as a seminary and a retreat facility for those seeking spiritual renewal.

Visitors are welcome…

However, Rev. Blaylock included this sign of instructions for visitors—it’s well worth clicking to enlarge and reading to the end:

Benedictine welcom

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Basket Case

Wednesday. February 11, 2015

Thank God I feel little pain so far; the most obvious symptom from my cancer is near overwhelming weakness.

Some days just making it from my recliner to the bathroom feels liked an Olympic challenge. So far I’ve managed to win the gold metal in that event. But it bothers me that someday I’ll not be able to make it.

flatYesterday I felt so weak that I could not stand for a shower and Jennifer, my eldest daughter, had to bathe me like a baby.

expectingAnother symptom demands that I drift in and out of sleep all the time with waking dreams that blend the dream world with reality. I’m having trouble distinguishing the two.

I’ll reach for a cup of coffee on the nightstand, a cup I’m sure I see there, but there is no coffee there.

But it seemed so real!

The other day—maybe it was yesterday—I was dozing off and on in my recliner lighting my pipe and casually praying for a friend when Jesus walked out of the kitchen to my left carrying a basket.

At first I thought it contained hot bread rolls because a white napkin enfolded the contents.

Jesus set the basket on the table and sat down beside me to chat.

I didn’t pay attention to what He was saying because, out of the corner of my eye I could see that napkin move a little bit. I asked Him if there were something alive in the basket.

The Lord folded back the napkin to reveal a beautiful white puppy with cold black eyes and nose. The puppy wiggled free of the napkin and basket to jump in my lap and lick my face.

The Lord Christ laughed at my delight, picked up His basket, and left me—my puppy snuggled in my arms.

I woke up with the pipe still smoldering in my hand so the waking dream must have only lasted seconds, but it sure made me happy.

The Prophet Joel speaks of a day in which young men and maidens shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams.

And the Bible is full of baskets—Baby Moses floating on the Nile, Paul being let down from the wall in a basket. 12 baskets of left-overs from feeding the 5,000…

So the imagery of my dream may not be too far fetched. This was no great theological revelation or beatific vision—it was just an old man’s dream.

olderAnd I have no problem about falling asleep while praying—you do not go to sleep in the presence of an enemy. You only drift off when you feel safe and comfortable with the trusted person you’re sleeping with.

So, while physically I feel as weak as a basket case, that’s ok. Jesus holds the basket.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Unexpected Requests

Monday, February 9, 2015

Yesterday, a 14-year-old boy who lives in a nearby town came by to visit me. He used to live in my neighborhood and his father drove him back to see me.

While his dad worked on some outside chores, the young man stayed inside to talk with me about my health and the prospects of my death.

Although I don’t recall ever doing anything special with him, the boy apparently thinks the world of me.

He made three unexpected requests which surprised me.

He asked if I’d allow him to be present in the room when I die.

He asked that he be allowed to speak at my memorial service.

And he asked if I’d allow him to write a posting on my blog after I die. “I want it to be something inspirational to carry on your legacy,” he said.

He said he admired my confidence in the face of death and I assured him that my only confidence is in the goodness of the Lord Christ.

Since it’s customary for various people to speak at a memorial service, and since I’ve had guests post things on my blog now and then, I readily granted those requests.

As to being present in the room when I die, I’m not sure about that. First, I’ll check with his mom and dad to see it that would be ok with them.

Spiritually, I’m at peace with what is happening to me. But physically, let’s face it, things may get messy. I may go out kicking, cursing, and screaming with shit, piss, vomit, blood and gore.

That might be too intense for a 14-year-old.

But both spiritual things and physical things are reality in God’s world, I think my young friend is mature enough to handle both aspects.

There is nothing pretense in the death of a Christian. Christ is nothing if not real.

Anyhow, I’m touched and honored that the young man wants to do these things for me—his requests are just another evidence to me of God’s love.

Getting ready to die brings me one surprise after another.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Celia

Saturday, February 7, 2015

At this stage of my life I never again expected to sit holding a pretty girl snuggled on my lap. But thats’ what happened yesterday.

And as the young lady and I got acquainted, we discovered we have much in common.

For instance, I can’t drive anymore; neither can Celia. Her mother drove her to my house to meet me.

Then there’s the matter of hair. Mine is falling out, hers is just growing in.

Same with teeth. At the moment I have four more teeth than Celia has, but that’s soon to change.

She found my lack of teeth fascinating.

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I told her my age with that old couplet:

I’m as old as my nose
And my two big toes,
And a little bit older
than my teeth.

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We also have diapers in common. But as Celia grows out of her Pampers, I’m growing into my Depends.

Another thing Celia and I share in common is our closeness to Eternity.

The Bible speaks of aged men like me as being, Old and full of days, soon to be gathered to his fathers.

I like that term gathered, not lost to cancer and death but gathered into the loving arms of Christ.

While I’m headed to Eternity, Celia just qrrived frdom there seven months ago. Amd as the poet Wordsworth said:

Trailing clouds of Glory do we come
From God Who is our home.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy.

Biologicly, glory is not the only cloud we trail. As I cuddled Celia in my arms—as is common to old men and babies—one of us cut a loud fart.

So, I told her about the little skunk that went to church—He had to sit in his own pew.

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• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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My Binocular Trick

My Binocular Trick

As I review my life wondering how it will all turn out, I’ve revived my life-long binocular trick. As many friends visit me to encourage me about my dealing with cancer, they often compliment me on my contributions to their life.

I tend to blow them off.

I have a hard time accepting compliments, praise, or love. I’ve been trained to view such things with suspicion.

I’m wrong.

I’ve been writing off the good things of reality and substituting the drab world of my own distorted imagination.

I even do this with God. His word says “to an many as receive Him, He gave…” And here I am too proud to receive good even at God’s nail-pierced hands.

Here follows an old entry from my diary written on November 4, 2011; it comes from apge 365 of my book A Dirty Old Man Tells All:

My Binocular Trick

Years ago I mastered the binocular trick.

Now, I’ve got that sucker down to perfection.

It’s proved one of the most destructive, hurtful things in my life.

Ginny and I use binoculars practically every weekend as we watch birds in our backyard. We have this pair of binoculars some wildlife organization sent us because we’d made a donation to save birds, seals, whales—some varmint, I forget just what.

Our binoculars were designed to be a sleek, precision tool to enable us to watch wildlife close up. One problem: Ginny is left handed; I am right handed. So when she looks at a bird through the viewfinder, she sees it enlarged. But, naturally as she passes the binoculars to me, they end up in my hands reversed. I slap them to my eyes and that bird looks tiny and a mile away. By the time I get them turned around, the bird has flown. Stupid bird.

You get the picture? Look through one end and things are magnified; look through the other end and things are smallified.

Yesterday, as I talked with Michael Swanhart, the counselor I’ve been seeing recently about writer’s block, our conversation touched on the binocular trick I use in my mental and spiritual life that causes me so much misery and frustration.

What I do is view my sins and faults and social blunders through one end of my brain’s binoculars so that I magnify anything bad. Bad stuff appears huge and right on top of me. Then, when I think of anything good in my life, I reverse my brain binoculars to smallify and discount the good. Good stuff appears tiny, insignificant, and far away.

For instance, when I think of my experiences as a Boy Scout, the first thing that pops into my mind is that time by the campfire I insulted my Scoutmaster. Never mind that for five years he was my best friend and role-model, the one moment that looms large in my mind is that insult.

On the other hand, once as a Scout, I won a trophy, a silver loving cup about 18-inches tall with scrolled handles and the Scout emblem engraved and the words, John Cowart, Most Outstanding Scout Of 1951. I felt so proud of winning that trophy.

My parents had not attended the awards ceremony. When I walked in the house they were drinking coffee at the kitchen table. I placed my silver (real silver back in those days) cup on the table, my mother gasped and accused me of stealing it.

She would not believe I’d won it till I showed her my name engraved on the surface.

That’s when I noticed my cup was empty.

Binocular vision. Ever since then, I view every award, every compliment, every good thing I’ve done as empty. Hollow. Of no account.

Thus my brain learned to belittle my accomplishments and to magnify my faults, flubs and sins.

Dr. David Burns, author of Feeling Good, a cognitive therapy handbook, speaks of this reverse vision saying, “A spectacular mental illusion is the persistent tendency of some depressed individuals to transform neutral or even positive experiences into negative ones… I call this reverse alchemy, you can turn golden joy into emotional lead… When someone praises you, you mentally disqualify their compliment “Oh, it was really nothing,” you say. If you constantly throw cold water on the good things that happen, no wonder life seems damp and chilly to you.

Disqualifying the positive is one of the most destructive forms of cognitive distortion… The price you pay for this tendency is intense misery and an inability to appreciate the good things that happen… It can also form the basis for some of the most extreme and intractable forms of depression.”.

Wow, does he have me pegged.

And to make matters worse, I’m a Christian.

That can falsely exacerbate the befuddled mindset of a Reverse Alchemist—Being predisposed to binocular vision, I grind my own lenses.

There is a religious tradition which appeals to my distorted view of the Lord God, of other people, and of myself. It glories in binocular trick. And plenty of Scripture backs this mindset up. “I am a worm and no man… In sin was I conceived… There is none that doeth good, no, not one”.

A bleak view through that magnifying end of my binoculars.

Then, looking through the other end, we see we are “Accepted in the Beloved… Now are we the children of God… We love Him because He first loved us… A peculiar people, a royal priesthood… I have called you friends… This day you shall be with me in Paradise”.

And I have this mental tendency to discount, to smallify, those Bible verses and make the Word Of God less than it really is.

The thing I’m trying to realize is that looking through either end of my mental binoculars never gives me a true picture; one end makes things look big, the other makes everything look small…. Neither view shows the real size or quality of what I am looking at. Viewing the world through the binocular trick always gives a distorted vision.

Jesus realistically put down hypocrites big time, “You brood of snakes! Who told you to flee the wrath to come?”

One the other hand, He handed out realistic compliments to many people. Meeting Nathaniel for the first time, Jesus praised him saying, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

And when He cured people, Jesus never said, “Behold, I zap you with my divine super-power”. No. He gave the afflicted person praise, credit even, saying, “Your faith has made you whole, Go and sin no more”.

Jesus is nothing if not a realist.

He sees the thoughts and intents of the heart.

He sees reality.

He sees clearly.

Yet, He never held a pair of binoculars in His life.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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