Thomas Eugene Dewart, 77, of Albion, passed away on Monday, January 9, 2023, at his home with his girls around him. He was born in Fort Wayne on January 24, 1945, to the late Delmar E. and Louise (Todd) Dewart. He spent his formative years in Fort Wayne. Thomas served his country in the United States Marine Corps, the Army National Guard, and the Air Guard. Thomas was married to Katherine (Priest) Sheilds, on June 27, 1991. She preceded him in death on September 9, 2001. He worked as a correctional officer at Pendleton Correctional and Chain O’Lakes Correctional Facility for more than 30 years. Thomas was a member of the UAW, the American Legion, and the AFT Local 9212. In his free time, he enjoyed fishing, going out on the boat, playing horses and cards, watching westerns, and traveling to warmer climates. Memorials may be directed to the Churubusco American Legion Post #157 or Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. Sheets & Childs Funeral Home has been entrusted with these arrangements.
Along with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, this is the legacy my grandfather-in-law left. Grief has a way of hitting you at funny times. Last week seemed fine, normal even with everyone. The reality hadn’t set in yet. Sunday at the viewing was even enjoyable if you will. Monday at the funeral it began to set in. The pastor spoke and tears were held in. The last walk past the casket and tears flowed. My husband’s name tape setting on a backdrop of an OD green marine uniform that was a little too big for the frail small frame that was once a militarily strong, stubborn, man. My five-year-old son struggled with what was happening at the funeral. I don’t think he realized what was happening until the end. My husband was holding him up at the casket and my husband started crying. The first time I believe my son has ever witnessed him cry. And I think he finally realized what it all meant. My son held it in until we got out to the car and then he had the saddest face of all time and I asked what was wrong. He said I am just sad and then proceeded to cry. I of course cried right along with him and just hugged him and held him and told him it would be okay. That is all I could do at that moment. We went to the Cemetary and they had bagpipes and the 21-gun salute and the presenting of the flag, military honors is what they call it I guess. My son is doing his best to console my husband, wrapping his little arms so tightly around his neck with tears streaming down his face in the brisk cold. It was a memory I will never forget. I pray Grandpa Tom was looking down and watching how much he meant to many people he didn’t think he did.
It is supposed to be a celebration of life, yet the stark reality sets in, and all we are left with are memories that make us sad. The reality is we will never again go to his house or be yelled at while we painted his porch because we missed a spot, or ride on the golf cart to see the neighbor’s pet goat, Ulysses. I am grateful for the time we got together but it never seems enough. I pray I will see him again one day. Even with his sarcasm, irritability, and seemingly negative demeanor, he was a giant teddy bear. Like my husband, very few people thought Tom liked them because of how well he did hide emotions. I knew he had a special soft spot for my mother-in-law, husband, and my youngest son. At the funeral, he was compared to a cactus fruit, prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside. I never would have thought of this comparison but it made perfect sense.
This time was also used as a time of reflection. My daughter and I joked about what we would want to be buried in when our time comes. I said I would like to look nice for the viewing and then be buried in sweatpants and a t-shirt for all I care or as the good Lord made us, we can go out of this world as we came in. The stark reality is, our worldly bodies will not matter. She won’t care what I look like at the viewing or what I am buried in when that time comes. I know I didn’t care what my father was wearing or not wearing when he passed and was cremated. I know where my soul is going and I look forward to that day. I don’t know what Tom woke up to that late Monday night. I’d like to think he was reunited with his late wife and parents and was surrounded by family and friends ushering him into his eternal resting place praising God until the end of time. I’m not really sure the point of this posting other than I feel like I am allowing the grief to leave my body through these words. I’m not sure otherwise how to get the pain out other than to also pray and pray hard. This is how I remind myself to deal with it otherwise it gets tucked far away to be dealt with at another time. I did that with my father. It didn’t go well two years later. Grief has a funny way of also making you wonder about your own death. Who would carry my casket? What would I want to be dressed in? Should I preplan my own funeral so my children don’t have to worry about it? Will I see Jesus’ face? Will I see my loved ones again? Where do I want to be buried? Do I want to be cremated? So many questions that no one wants to think about or answer and in all honesty, most do not matter in the end.
This is my reminder. God will get us through. He reminds us in His word, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26. We can hold tight to the future, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4. And in the present, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:8
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