This past weekend the children of Herb and Jeannette Armao gathered together. I say gather because we are not just 2 or 3, but 8. We missed our oldest brother who would have found cannolis somewhere in Omaha and made his ‘gravy’ for us all because that was the way he showed love.

We did what we do best, talked and ate.

We took stock of the years; we went down Memory Lane just a little.

Country summers, Bailing hay, the tomboy test

Our father’s garden, our mother’s cooking

Sniffing lilacs up someone’s nose in church, giggles in church, noogies in church

Singing in the car, in church, at home

We talked about our children. Our hopes, heartbreaks and prayers. Dave and I looked at each other with perfect understanding, having both lost a child. We cried together.

We whipped out our phones, showing pics and videos of our grandchildren, all beautiful and smart and delightful.

We shared life’s challenges and struggles but also God’s provision and goodness. And as we have been taught, we sang the doxology.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly host,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost

AAAAAMEN. When it came to the amen we didn’t want to stop, it sounded so good.

Herb and Jeannette Armao did not have much. But what mattered most they had in spades. Us. Our house, fittingly called Crestfallen Manor, was ramshackle and small. Eleven people fit in a 3 bedroom, one bathroom house.

I looked at my siblings this weekend and thought what an absolute success Mom and Dad were. If they could see us, Dad would be wiping a tear away, Mom would be breaking out in song and they both would be marveling at the amazing grace of God that has brought all their children back to Him.

Our parents died not seeing the fulfillment of their prayers.  God has brought us to this extraordinary place in life. We all love God. He is our joy, our hope, our comfort. He has given life meaning, to Him we cling.

I remember an old song, sung in our little country church.

Many years ago in days of childhood
I used to play till evening shadows come
Then winding down that old familiar pathway
I’d hear my mother call at set of sun.

Come home, come home it’s suppertime,

The shadows lengthen fast.
Come home, come home it’s suppertime
We’re going home at last.

In visions now I see her standing yonder

And her familiar voice I hear once more.

The banquet table’s ready up in heaven,

It’s suppertime upon that golden shore.

Come home, come home, it’s suppertime
The shadows lengthen fast.
Come home, come home, it’s supper time

We’re going home at last.

We’d hear that suppertime call from the Lane or the Flat or the Harp or the Haymow and we’d come home to sit around the table where we’d eat and talk and laugh. That was us again this weekend. I am overwhelmed by the love, respect and thanksgiving for and from my brothers and sisters.

To Herb and Jeannette Armao, a job truly well done, your children have come home.

To our faithful God, we humbly and joyfully give thanks.