Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Duarte Stories: Full of Blessings

This Sunday as I was directing music for church I found myself overpowered by a certain verse and had to turn my face away for an instant as tears pricked at my eyes and my voice threated to shake.  It was the third verse of the hymn "Count Your Blessings." 

My grandfather, Manuel Isidro Lara Duarte, loved that verse of eternal hope for those poor as to things of this world.  He was an orphan in poverty stricken Turicachi, Mexico and from his earliest years he learned to work hard and do without luxury.  He is remembered for his hardworking nature, honesty, and resourceful attitude.  He provided as best he could for his wife and eight children, and left a legacy that can never die.  Near the end of his life, as he lay languishing in the slow agonizing death of pancreatic cancer, my mother sat by his side as he tried to speak.  He began talking weakly, trying to convey an idea to her.  He said "I am full..." My mother thought he meant he felt full of sickness and tumors.  He continued, "I am full of blessings."  The last time he saw his children together at his bedside he told them with his characteristic fearlessness, "I am not afraid of closing my eyes.  I am afraid of opening them (on Resurrection Day) and finding that one or two of my children didn't make it (to heaven)."  His last act as the exquisite patriarch he was, was to lead his children in singing the aforementioned hymn.  Though his body was failing his voice was strong in passionate leadership as he sang the following hymn in Spanish:

When you look at others with their lands and gold
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
Count your many blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done. 
Count your blessings, name them one by one. 
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.


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