There are few moments in life that are of great importance and March 29, 2011 was one of them, for it marked the passing of life on this earth of my beloved dad. To so many, my dad, Bob Berry, was a real estate giant, the innovator behind Berry Realty Company, an entrepreneur, an investor, and a mighty man of integrity and honesty. Some have called him an “icon of our community.” But to his children, he was just “Daddy.” The man who could dance like Fred Astaire, whistle like Bing Crosby, laugh fully and love completely (especially his family). The man who made hard work look easy, even enjoyable. There was nothing he couldn’t do and do well. Stability was his grace of nature. He was happily married to the same woman, Honor Berry – the love of his life, a few months shy of 60 years, lived in the same house for nearly 56 years, managed and owned Berry Realty for some 42 years and now has gone home for the rest of eternity.
We find ourselves most grateful to the Lord, as His hand has been on every detail these past few weeks, no matter the size. For a man who hated the thought of hospitals, he had found a way to never enter one, as a patient at least, until he was 80 years of age! Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t in perfect health, just not hospitalized. He rarely complained about his health, perhaps for fear of the dreaded confrontation of being hospitalized. We won’t ever know for sure, but I do know that, as the bible says, “Perfect Love cast out fear,” and that is exactly what we witnessed in his final week this side of Heaven. No fear, but perfect love!
There are too many circumstances to list here, but many should not go untold. Unbeknownst to Ralph, the girls, and myself, not even a week ago, we were able to spend a special time at mom and dad’s house which ended by our circling around him, with hands upon his shoulders and back praying peace, love, and healing over him to The God of Peace. It was a time we will cherish forever. In every moment at Emory, we found comfort as a family in the respect, honor and care given to Dad by all associated with Emory Hospital. One anticipates brilliance from Emory, but the compassion and care were beyond comprehension. By God’s grace, He orchestrated the circumstances that provided for dad’s best friend to be at Emory in his last hours. Dick McGowan has been a friend of my dad’s since he was five years old, best-man at his wedding, and the man we called, when we were growing up, “Uncle Dick.” They had the pleasure of exchanging, in a few short sentences, the love that comes with decades of friendship. A true gift.
When I called my sister, Belinda from Scottsdale to let her know she might want to fly home, her response to me was, “I know I’ve already booked the flight, the Holy Spirit told me to go.” She was in the last seat on the plane. Despite the lines at the airport and the hold-up in security, she was able to pass it all, board the plane, take off and land on time, be retrieved by our brother, Rob (Dad’s namesake and all of his sister’s rock and supporter)and arrive at Emory in enough time to visit with dad while he was still talking and awake. My sister Tina and husband Glenn arrived from Florida early afternoon affording them some individual time with dad before others arrived. His last “pleasure” was chocolate fudge hand-made (and his forever favorite) by his amazing and loving sister, Pat Jones who was by his side every day to administer sisterly encouragement and love to her brother.
Before the final hour, Mom and all five of us children, along with three of the six grandchildren, were able to speak blessings of love over dad, laugh with him through our tears, and even sing over him. His passing was peaceful and precious. Our tears were joined by those of many staff and nurses from Emory. The family joined hands and praised our Heavenly Father for our earthly father. We were able to thank God for His goodness in all things. For we were given a glimpse into the personal details to the place-setting that Our Lord Himself prepares for each of us at the banquet table in Heaven.
We know that there was a party of celebration as dad joined his father, the founder of Berry Realty, his mother, in-laws and so many who have gone before him. We rejoice with dad for
God makes all things new! He will be dearly missed.
God saw you getting tired
A cure was not to be.
So He put His arms around you
And whispered, son “Come with me.”
With tearful eyes we watched you
And saw you fade away
Although we loved you dearly
We could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating
Your tender hands at rest.
God took you home to prove to us
He Only takes the Best!
Robert “Bob” Berry