December 6, 2020
By Janet Wade
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 NIV
My father loved words. He loved the sound of them, the history and evolution of them, the feeling of them, the power of them. R. Gene Puckett spent a lifetime devoted to words and the Word. A powerful preacher, prophetic writer, and committed teacher, Dad devoted almost 70 years in ministry molding words to create a lasting message.
But it was not just in his professional life that Dad understood the impact of words. He possessed a determination to mark the milestones of life with letters, cards, and notes. Of course, his family received these communications, but so did countless others. Dad never failed to express heartfelt sympathy and offer encouragement and support to those experiencing difficulty, loss and grief. He crafted sincere and joyful notes of congratulations for accomplishments and life’s celebrations. Gratitude and appreciation for gifts was always expressed in handwritten notes shortly after the gift was received. And there were always words of affirmation for courageous efforts and actions, especially to young people.
In June 2012, Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Always one to want the truth, Dad was told he had eleven to fourteen months to live. On May 12, 2013 R. Gene Puckett died, at home, as he had wished. It was a long, difficult, and often painful eleven months. But despite those things, there were moments of unbelievable grace. The words which Dad had so loving shared with so many for seven decades came flooding back in unimaginable numbers. At first, they came as a trickle as knowledge of Dad’s illness slowly filtered out. Then they gathered strength until almost a day did not go by without a note, card, or phone call. The words came from those Dad had pastored, taught, supported, married, baptized, visited, and cared for. They came from people of all ages, races, genders, and faith perspectives. They came from around the corner and across the country.
As God’s hands, the people whom Dad’s words had touched wrote and spoke their own words of comfort, appreciation, care, and gratitude. As a person who had devoted his life to words and the Word, Dad received an immeasurable and life affirming gift. A gift which would not have been possible but for the circumstances of his illness and the example he had set. Dad had devoted much time to finding and sharing just the right words with others. And he was given time at the end of his life which allowed the hands of God to send those words home.
The words of God from the hands of God. Thanks be to God.