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January 30, 2023

One month ago today, my husband, Gary Kent Paben, the love of my life for over half a century went to be with the Lord. I was next to him, and I had just sung “Surely the Presence of the Lord Is In This Place,” one of his favorite songs.

I am grateful that Fr. Scott came to our home in Black Mountain to help me choose the scripture readings for his Celebration of Life to be held at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Winter Park, FL on January 12. Thankfully the service was available by livestream and many Trinity friends were able to be a part.

As the congregation exited the church and gathered at the Mary Martha Parlor, two trumpeters from Walt Disney World played The Trumpet Fanfare. It felt like the trumpets blared to accompany Gary to heaven.

Our family appreciates that on January 21 Fr. Dennis Fotinos officiated the the interment of Gary’s ashes at the farm of our son Zachary in Marion, NC. Our granddaughter, Snowlilly Grace Paben read from Romans 8:37-39, “I am persuaded that neither life nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Afterwards, we processed up the hill to a strand of pines and Tom Tracy sang “Day by Day.” Fr. Dennis consecrated the ground around the statue of Saint Francis of Assisi ending with the verse “O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Folks placed roses honoring Gary around St. Francis, and Fr. Dennis concluded with the prayer “O Lord, support us all the day long until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging and holy rest and peace at the last.”

Gary and I said that prayer together for forty years, and the prayer was answered. He found ‘peace at the last.’

Cheryl Paben


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